A couple weeks ago I received one of the latest creative collections from Frederick Maryland’s Flying Dog Brewery: The Holiday Collection.
Since I’m on the brewery’s media mailing list, I often get a bottle of a new beer every now and again, and when it makes sense, I bake with and write about them. But this package was surprising and different from many of the others. Within, there were 4 bottles of beer and a box of Otterbein cookies. The press release explained:
Introducing The Holiday Collection: 4 Otterbein’s cookie-inspired craft beers in a brand new variety 12-pack.
A Baltimore mainstay since 1881, the Otterbein’s cookie recipes have been passed down among 5 generations. Pairing tradition with innovation, the beers were inspired by and meant to pair with these iconic cookies.
Opening the box was a bit like Christmas morning. I unwrapped each carefully packed beer, reading the amusing label copy (Flying Dog never fails to make their beers fun), and within a bakery box were multiple bags of crispy cookies.
I sat down and sampled each beer, along with the cookie designated for each, and here are my thoughts:
Imperial Hefeweizen, inspired by and paired with Otterbein’s Sugar Cookies
This beer was my favorite out of the 4. It hit all the right hefe notes, with a little more spicy punch and an amazing aroma. And the sugar cookie did not disappoint. All of Otterbein’s cookies are extremely thin, but they don’t lack in flavor. This particular sugar cookie had a great crunch, was buttery, and had some toasty notes. Out of the 4, I feel like this was the best beer and cookie pairing.
Roasted Peanut Brown Ale, inspired by and paired with Otterbein’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
According to my press sheet, the particular yeast strain used in this beer gives it some roasty peanut notes, which I thought was rather clever. At first, I didn’t pick up the peanut flavor, but it sort of “bloomed” on my tongue (just a little homebrewer speak there). Sadly, the flavor began to dissipate as I continued sipping the beer and I was left with just a nice brown ale. The chocolate chip cookie was also crispy, but there was something off about the chocolate. I think it was milk chocolate, which I’m not a fan of, especially in cookies.
Oatmeal Raisin Stout, inspired by and paired with Otterbein’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
For an oatmeal stout, this beer was a bit thin and seemed more like a porter. I unfortunately didn’t pick up any raisin in the beer, and I think an imperial-style would have been better for this particular flavor profile. As for the cookie, they were wonderfully spiced and crispy and quite the delight to nibble.
Oak-Aged Hazelnut Scotch Ale, inspired by and paired with Otterbein’s Ginger Cookies
This beer is another one that uses specific ingredients to get a unique flavor: in this case, the malts provide the hazelnut character. But I couldn’t pick up any hazelnut. For an oak aged beer, this also was a bit volatile when first poured (all I could taste was the barrel), but after letting it sit a few minutes, it settled and was pleasantly nutty (just not hazelnutty). The ginger cookie delivered on the ginger and had that wonderful Otterbein crunch, but the pairing fell flat for me. I think a molasses-based cookie would have worked better.
Though not every beer and cookie pairing worked for me, I enjoyed seeing Flying Dog flex their creative muscle and have fun. They’re the kind of brewery I’m always excited to see more from, and as a baker, I really like the fact that they fostered such a great relationship with a well-loved Maryland bakery.
Disclosure: I received the beers and cookies from Flying Dog brewery to sample, however my opinions are my own.