Happy New Year. Yes, I know it’s been a while since I have written. I’ve had a lot of stuff going on and haven’t been feeling inspired to write about beer. Sigh. But, now I feel that I have something cool and fun to write about.
A friend of mine bought me a book for Christmas. The book is “Together At Last, Cookies & Beer, Bake – Pair – Enjoy” by Jonathan Bender. I have to admit that I was extremely skeptical about the concept. I’m sure that everyone has had that experience where you are eating something that doesn’t quite go with the beer that you’re drinking, and it produces the worst taste in your mouth and sometimes makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It’s an experience that I hate.
Well, I made the decision to give Beer and Cookies a try. After reading through the introduction of the book, there were quite a few things that made sense. And, after thinking about prior eating experiences a couple of things started to resonate. It occurred to me that taking a sip of a beer attenuates your taste buds and that certain flavors are emphasized because of the beer. This will become a little more apparent in the following paragraphs.
I made the first cookie recipe in the book, the Man Bar. I’ve done quite a bit of baking over the years, especially cookies, and I have never really done a savory cookie. The Man Bar is a simple bar cookie with chopped bacon and kettle chips in it. There is a little bit of Stout Beer in the mix as well. The cookie by itself was good but somewhat unremarkable. However, when it’s paired with the right beer, it transformed into something quite different.
The Man Bar is meant to be paired with Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout. The book described the cookie as enhancing the roasty and chocolate of the Oatmeal Stout. Unfortunately, the Tap Room didn’t have Samuel Smith’s, so I substituted a draft Founders Breakfast Stout. What I found was that a sip of beer followed by a small bite of cookie resulted in the flavor of the cookie being transformed. The beer actually brought out the saltiness of the bacon and kettle chips. Surprisingly, the cookie was better with the beer, than without.
One of the regulars to our Thursday Nights tried the cookies with a Highland Oatmeal Porter. Interestingly, he experienced something similar to mine. The beer caused his taste buds to emphasize the saltiness over the sweetness. We were both rather surprised by this experience.
Out of curiosity, we decided to see how the cookies paired with another beer. The next beer was a Duck Rabbit Milk Stout. This milk stout is not one of my favorite stouts, but it was good enough for this experiment. What’s interesting is the flavor of the cookie was very different from when it was eaten with the Oatmeal Beers. We both agreed that this particular pairing resulted in the sweetness of the cookie being emphasized and the saltiness being downplayed. Don’t get me wrong, the cookie was still excellent, but it was transformed to be a different experience.
To Summarize, the Man Bar paired well with Oatmeal Stout, Oatmeal Porter, and Milk Stout. The flavors varied greatly between the Oatmeal Beers and the Milk Stout. The Oatmeal Beers brought out the Savory, where as the Milk Stout emphasized the Sweet, which was interesting. Everyone at the table thought that the cookies were greatly enhanced by the dark beers. Give this a thumbs up.
Next week, we decided to try the Pecan Sandies. The Sandies have toasted pecans and bacon, which are expected to interact with a porter, emphasizing the saltiness of the bacon and the nuttiness of the pecans. The beer recommended for these cookies is Founder’s Porter. We’ll see if we can land a good porter for the next pairing.