craft beer

Christmas Cookie & Beer Pairing

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(Note: This is a modified version of a piece I wrote for the Stormcloud Brewing Co. mug club members.)

We all know that Santa prefers beer instead of milk with his cookies, so this month’s post is all about beer…and cookies!

Award-winning chef and Culinary Institute of America graduate Adam Dulye and Certified Cicerone® and Beer Judge Julia Herz explain, “A pairing is a match between beverage and food, with the goal of having the individual parts interact in a synergistic way to create an enhanced and elevated experience. Simply stated, craft beer and food can transform each other” (Dulye and Herz, 50). To transform your traditional holiday desserts, I’ve utilized a few of my favorite beer educators and did some field research of my own to compile a list of holiday cookies that pair well with our Stormcloud beer.

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Rainmaker Ale & Snowball Cookies (also know as Russian Tea Cake, not to be confused with Pfeffernüsse, which have a very different flavor.)

As our flagship beer and GABF bronze medal-winning brew, I knew I had to find a cookie that accentuated all of its best qualities. This cookie works so well because the dusting of the powdered sugar draws out the dark fruit flavors from our house yeast as well as some subtle caramel notes from the malt. In turn, the beer really helps to bring out the nuttiness of the Snowball Cookies. Looking for a Snowball Cookie recipe? Check out this link.

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228 Tripel & Apricot Thumbprint Cookies

Our abbey-style Tripel is extremely versatile in food pairings, with its complex flavor and wide range of delicious yeast-driven aromas. I love the Apricot Thumbprint Cookies paired with 228 because the dryness of the beer cuts through the sweetness of the apricot jam, providing a pleasant balance. Additionally, the cookie adds backbone to the base malt flavor of the brew, giving it a playful enhancement. Want to make your own Apricot Thumbprint Cookies? Click here for a recipe!

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Whiled Away® IPA & Orange Gingerbread Cookies

This was one of my most surprising findings. I was a little skeptical of this pairing at first, but after seeing it come up time after time in my research, I knew I had to try it. The hop flavor works really well to cut through the ginger spice, which in turn mellows out the bitterness. Then, the orange zest of the cookie enhances the bright citrus hop presence in Whiled Away, creating a perfect marriage of flavors. I have to say, this was my favorite beer and cookie pairing! Try it out for yourself, using this recipe.

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31 Planes IIPA (Plane 16) & Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

You can’t go wrong with the classic cut out holiday cookie, especially topped with a smooth, rich buttercream frosting. The dryness of our IIPA combined with the bitterness from the hops helps to balance out the sugary sweetness of the cookie. In finding this balance, the beer expands the cookie’s flavor range, allowing the palate to identify and enjoy the subtleties of the cookie (such as vanilla and butter notes) instead of just being overpowered by sugar. If you’re hoping to make a batch of these holiday staples, this recipe may be just what you need.

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Rowed Hard Stout & Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

Stouts go well with just about every dessert imaginable, but combining our Oatmeal Stout with a peanut butter and chocolate cookie takes it to the next level. The chocolate of the cookie brings out an even balance of sweet and cacao elements from the malt, while the creamy mouthfeel of the beer sweeps the peanut butter across the palate in a most alluring way. This beer plays well with both milk and dark chocolate, so don’t be afraid to experiment a bit – this recipe is a good starting point.
Interested in doing some beer and cookie pairing of your own? 

A common way to pair food and beer is looking at the following three interactions — compliment (flavors that match each other); contrast (flavors that intensify or suppress each other); and cut (flavors that cleanse the palate). The Brewers Association Beer & Food Course book also explains that you should, “Expand your tasting notes to include places, memories, and sensations” (Dulye and Herz, 50). For more information on food and beer pairings, check out this awesome resource from the Brewers Association.

I’d be interested in hearing what beers you pair with your favorite cookies, so please feel free to share. Grab a crowler or growler to go and start baking!


References

Bender, Jonathan. Cookies & Beer. Andrew McMeel
Publishing, 2015.

Dulye, Adam, and Julia Herz. “Beer & Food Course.”
         CraftBeer.com, Brewers Association, Mar. 2017.

Mosher, Randy. “American Craft Beer and Food: Perfect
Companions.” Brewers Association, 2009, p. 7.

Murphy, Nikelle. “7 Delicious Beer and Cookie Pairings
You Have to Try.” The Cheat Sheet, 12 Feb. 2017,
http://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/7-delicious-beer-and-cookie-
pairings-you-have-to-try.html/.

Rhodes, Jesse. “Beer for Dessert.” Smithsonian, 29 June 2011,
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/beer-for-dessert-
24136392/.

Richards, Bryan M. “How to Pair Beer with Desserts That Aren’t
Chocolate.” CraftBeer.com, edited by Jess Baker, Brewers
Association, 9 Feb. 2018.

Specketer, Jenn. “Craft Beer and Christmas Candy Pairing.” Bites,
Barrels and Brews
, 14 Dec. 2015, http://www.bitesbarrelsandbrews.
com/2015/12/14/craft-beer-and-christmas-candy-pairing/.

Stanz, Carissa. “This Holiday, Skip the Milk and Pair Your Favorite
Christmas Cookie with Beer.” Wide Open Eats, edited by Sarah
Ramsey and Lyndsay Burginger, 12 Dec. 2017, http://www.wideopen
eats.com/this-holiday-skip-the-milk-and-pair-your-favorite-
christmas-cookie-with-beer/.

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Beer Review: AleSmith X

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X – an Extra Pale Ale
brewed by AleSmith Brewing Company in Sand Diego, CA

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X is an Extra Pale Ale that is brewed year-round by AleSmith Brewing Company. The beer is light and drinkable, but I was let down by the flavor. As a big fan of other AleSmith brews, this one disappointed me.

Immediately upon opening, this beer was a gusher. I was surprised by this as it was not bottle conditioned, but I know hydrophobin (a protein created by a fungus that infects malt during the brewing process) could be a culprit.¹ After it stopped gushing, the beer poured a deep gold with a brilliant white head that dissipated quickly. The immediate aroma I noticed was citrus, lemon with some hints of perfumey pear. The scent also had delicate undertones of sweet biscuity malt. The taste of this beer is what really disappointed me – it reminded me of old hops. Pine and citrus were definitely present, but there was a stale off-flavor. Unfortunately this bottle did not have a freshness date on it, so I have no way of telling just how old it was. This beer had a sweet aftertaste, almost medicinal – the lingering flavor was essentially a honey lemon cough drop. 

AleSmith X clocks in at 5.2% ABV and 24 IBU. Based on my experience I would not recommend this beer, but as I said earlier it had no date on the bottle so it might be better when fresher.

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¹Hippeli, Susanne, and Erich F. Elstner. “Minireview: Hydrophobins, ns-LTPs and Beer
Gushing.” Zeitschrift für Naturforschung, edited by Walter De Gruyter, 2 Aug. 2001,
www.znaturforsch.com/ac/v57c/s57c0001.pdf.


Have you had this beer? What was your take on it? 

EXCITING NEWS!

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Today I am launching an online shop to sell a few stickers I’ve designed. Visit the shop here! I’m starting very small, but hope to be adding more stickers soon. If you have a chance, check them out. I would also love feedback on what future designs you’d like to see. Cheers!

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Beer Review: Divine Sauvage

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Divine Sauvage – a Belgian Tripel aged in Red Wine Barrels
brewed by Green Flash Brewing Co. in San Diego, CA

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Divine Sauvage is a Belgian-Style Tripel Ale aged in red wine barrels – 36 different barrels to be exact. This blend was brewed in 2015 & 2016 with Syrian Golding and Czech Saaz hops and fermented with Monastery and Brett yeast. After being aged in vintage French Oak red wine barrels for up to 30 months, it was bottled in March and resulted in this brilliant piece of artistry.

Divine Sauvage poured a highly carbonated, deep golden color. Topped off with an eggshell-colored head reminiscent of lemon meringue, this beer had brilliant head retention. I was initially taken aback by the lack of bold aroma, but there were certainly subtle wafts of tannin, oak, and sour apricot. As the beer warmed up, there were also distinct Brett notes apparent in the nose. Upon first sip, I was impressed with the tart, balanced mid-palate flavor – clean funk that gave way to a lingering, soft lemongrass finish. The tart flavor reminded me of the loquat fruit: similar to apricot with floral overtones, presenting as tart due to not quite reaching its ripened prime. The joy of sipping this beer evoked nostalgic memories of sticky juice running down my hands and chin as a child after biting into the season’s first apricot at a roadside farm stand. Divine Sauvage clocks in at 9.7% ABV and 24 IBU. If you have an opportunity to imbibe this tasty beer, I highly recommend that you DO!

Cellar 3 is home to Green Flash’s barrel program, self described as “where craft evolves into artistry.” For more information on Cellar 3 and Green Flash, I highly recommend checking out this video:

 

Beer Review: Green Zebra

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Green Zebra– A Gose Style Ale brewed with Watermelon and Sea Salt
brewed by Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, MI

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I was super excited this made it to Indiana! Having lived in Grand Rapids for eight years, I definitely consider it my second hometown. Founders Brewing Co. has brewed a beer every year to benefit ArtPrize, and Green Zebra is this year’s brew! What is ArtPrize, you ask? It is an open, independently organized international art competition and festival held annually in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flood the streets every fall to experience this special event. More than five hundred thousand dollars in prizes are awarded each year, which include a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts. Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate. For more information about ArtPrize, please visit their website.

Green Zebra is a gose style ale brewed with watermelon and sea salt. It has been quite a while since I have had a gose that I truly enjoyed. I have described the recent goses I have imbibed as “drinkable” at best. Watch out world – here, to revive the true potential of the gose is Founders’ Green Zebra! For those of you unfamiliar with the gose style, here is BeerAdvocate’s description:

“An old German beer style from Leipzig, Gose is an unfiltered wheat beer made with 50-60% malted wheat, which creates a cloudy yellow color and provides a refreshing crispness and twang. A Gose will have a low hop bitterness and a complementary dryness and spice from the use of ground coriander seeds and a sharpness from the addition of salt. Like Berliner Weisse beers, a Gose will sometimes be laced with various flavored and colored syrups. This is to balance out the addition of lactic acid that is added to the boil.”

Green Zebra poured with dancing carbonation and topped off with a dollop of bright white head. It was the color of a wheat field on a summer day, and was effervescent with an ever-so-subtle haze. The initial wafts of aroma were tangy and almost sour, which soon gave way to a powerful smell of watermelon with an underlying hint of brine. The overwhelming scent was very reminiscent of watermelon flavored salt water taffy. As predicted, the carbonation of Green Zebra electrified and fizzled across the tongue, highlighting the tangy bite of flavor across the full palate. At first sip, I was greeted with a very sweet, candy-like watermelon flavor at the front of the palate, along with the light, soft, creamy mouthfeel. While the watermelon candy taste remained throughout, it got bumped to the background by a funky, sour taste – like a tart green apple. The tang was accentuated by sprinkles of saltiness throughout, and was capped off by the lingering salty aftertaste. Though the various flavor contributions to this beer sound like an odd combination, it truly finds a harmonious balance. Green Zebra clocks in at 4.6% ABV and 10 IBU. I highly recommend you get your hands on it, before this zebra goes extinct!


References:

“Gose.” BeerAdvocate, 21 January 2012, https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/style/16/.

Beer Review: Shploing!! Mango S’mores

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Shploing!! Mango S’mores – an India Pale Ale
brewed and canned for Omnipollo by Dorchester Brewing Co. in Boston, MA

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Saw this at my local bottle shop, and was immediately intrigued. An IPA brewed with marshmallows? I couldn’t imagine it, so I knew I had to try it. Besides, the can design is awesome!

Shploing!! Mango S’mores is an IPA brewed with marshmallows, graham crackers, salt and lactose sugar with mangos and vanilla added. I love IPAs and I love s’mores, but I really couldn’t imagine the two meeting. It poured from the can a hazy, straw color with about a finger of off-white head. The head dissipated really quickly. The aroma was exactly what I was hoping for: strong mango scent, with a distinct vanilla marshmallow smell cutting through. The taste was prominently tropical fruit and citrusy hops. I picked up on an incredibly subtle vanilla aftertaste. The malt flavor definitely took the back seat to the hops, though I could see it being described as graham crackery (I suspect this to have a lot more to do with the actual malts used than the fact that it was brewed with graham crackers, but who knows?) There was a bit of sediment at the bottom, but not invasive or so much that bothered me. I’ll be honest, I expected a lot more marshmallow flavor than there was from this beer; but I was also worried it would be too sweet for my liking which it was not. I had fun trying this, and there were some subtle unique flavors, but overall I would categorize this as a basic, but solid, India Pale Ale. I highly recommend it for the bitter hopheads, but suggest you stay away if you’re only in it for the marshmallow. Shploing!! Mango S’mores IPA clocks in at 7% ABV.

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Have you tried Shploing!! Mango S’mores? What was your opinion of it? What is the most unique combination of flavors you’ve had in a beer? I’d love to hear from you, please feel free to comment below!

Beer Review: Femme Fatale Brett

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Femme Fatale Brett – an India Pale Ale
produced and bottled for Evil Twin Brewing by Westbrook Brewing Co. in Mt. Pleasant, SC
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As a beer lover with a film degree and a passion for film noir, I couldn’t pass up a beer called Femme Fatale, especially if it comes from Evil Twin.

Femme Fatale Brett is an IPA fermented with brettanomyces and hopped with Galaxy, Citra, Summit, and Cascade hops. It poured a hazy, bright, glowing orange and had a huge, frothy head with incredible retention. The aroma was of fermented fruit, notes of lemon, and sweet banana esters. The initial flavor was strong citrus and apricot, while a consistent sweet yeast undertone ran across the full palate. Mid palate was tangy, with a distinct brett taste dancing across the tongue, and a subtle biscuity hint reminiscent of sea salt. The lingering aftertaste was both sweet and funky. Despite the large head initially, the mouthfeel lacked carbonation and was thin and flatter than expected. If you are into brettanomyces and citrusy belgian ales, I highly recommend you face the funk and taste this incredibly drinkable beer. Femme Fatal Brett clocks in at 6% ABV.

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Have you had Femme Fatale Brett? What did you think of it? Is there a beer you would like to see me review? Let me know!