2016-12-01 / Features

Merry Pairings

As the weather turns colder, warm up with local seasonal brews and cookie combos that bring out the flavors of the most wonderful time of the year.
Maggie Anderson | photos by Matt Fern

Milk and cookies are a classic, for sure. But this winter, we wanted to give holiday cookies the grown-up treatment with beer pairings from local breweries. There’s something about toasted malts and baked goods that just works. Plus, winter beers often play with spice and fruit, making them prime pastry partners. Read on to ease into the season with festive flavors galore.

♦ Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice ♦

Robin Hood Brewing Co.  |  Sticky Bun Brown Ale
For that “dessert-in-a-glass” flavor, look no further than Robin Hood’s Sticky Bun Brown Ale, which has all the notes of the delectable treat to drive home that just-out-of-the-oven taste. “I tried to use as many ingredients as possible that you would find in the namesake confection — raisins, brown sugar, toasted pecans, cinnamon,” says brewer Chris Schell. The latter is why we paired it with the classic snickerdoodle.

Depending on how much vacation time you have, this might be a perfect way to start a day of browsing Netflix for feel-good holiday movies from your childhood. At around 5 percent ABV, this beer isn’t as strong as many typical winter seasonals, which just means you can have more of them. Look for this beer in both Home D locations in early December.

½ c. butter, softened
½ c. granulated sugar
1⁄3 c. brown sugar
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla
1½  c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cream of tartar

Cream butter and sugars, then add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Combine dry ingredients and mix well with wet ingredients. Let dough rest at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Preheat oven to 300°F. Roll 2 Tbsp. of dough into a ball and then into a mixture of 2 Tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon to coat. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes.

Holly Jolly Beermas

Otto’s Pub & Brewery  |  Jolly Roger Imperial Stout
For something really warm and wonderful, reach for Otto’s Jolly Roger Imperial Stout, a chocolatey and roasty beer best served at a warmer temp. Available at the brewery and in bottles, brewer Charlie Schnable says the beer pairs well with “anything chocolate or coffee,” which is why we chose both. Not a cookie kind of person? “It also goes great with ice cream,” he says.

If you can manage not to drink it all, this beer is a good one for aging — stash some away in the basement and bring it up for a very merry December 2017.

Chococoffee Cookies
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chips
½ c. unsalted butter
1½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
½ c. cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2⁄3 c. granulated sugar
½ c. dark brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp. instant coffee powder
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Melt half of the chocolate with the butter. While cooling, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Beat eggs, sugars, coffee powder and vanilla in another bowl; then add melted chocolate and butter mixture. Add flour mixture and remaining chocolate; mix until just incorporated. Using a scoop or spoon, drop walnut-sized balls of batter onto parchment-lined sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes.

A Prince is Born

Elk Creek Café + Aleworks  |  Prince’s Porter
Once a special treat only available at certain events at the brewpub in Millheim, the barrel-aged Prince’s Porter can be the star of any show this season with the first bottling of this limited availability beer. The Prince’s Porter, explains brewer Tim Yarrington, is simply the already-delicious Poe Paddy Porter aged for at least six months in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. “The beer mellows and softens over time, and the barrel can contribute a spectrum of flavors, especially oak, vanilla and dried fruit,” he says.
In order to not overpower the complexity of the beer, pair it with simple butter cookies — with or without icing — to really enjoy the richness of flavors. The vanilla in both the beer and cookies will match up, allowing you to taste the subtleties of the dark and delicious brew. The 22-ounce bottles — only 1,200 of them — are set for an early winter release, so watch for updates to snag these royal suds.

Butter Cookies
1 c. butter, softened
½ c. sugar
1 egg
3 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder

Mix butter, sugar and egg thoroughly. Stir in vanilla. Sift flour and baking powder; stir into wet ingredients. Chill dough, then roll to 1⁄8-inch thickness and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Bake at 400°F for 5-7 minutes. Frost with royal icing or a simple mix of powdered sugar and water.

The Naughty List

Happy Valley Brewing Company  |  Sain’t Misbehavin’
For the third year, Happy Valley Brewing Company brewer Josh Davies is making his Sain’t Misbehavin’, but it’s also the third variation of the winter warmer. “I do something different each year,” he says. “This year Sain’t Misbehavin’ is going to be kind of a take on a ginger beer — an imperial cherry ginger beer with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans.”

Davies recommends pairing the beer with cookies that have deeper flavors than simply white sugar, like the brown sugar and oats in an oatmeal raisin. “The richness and the breadiness from the oatmeal will help the beer,” he says, and the pairing will certainly help anyone, naughty or nice, get into the spirit of the season.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
½ c. unsalted butter, softened
2⁄3 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¾ c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. table salt
1½  c. rolled oats
¾ c. raisins

Cream the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Then stir in the oats and raisins. Bake on parchment paper-lined baking sheets in a 350°F oven for 10-12 minutes. For a thicker cookie, chill the dough before baking.

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