Just like Montell Jordan, this is how we do it – a step-by-step guide on putting together cookies and beer, because the right beer and the right cookie make each other sing.
I know this subject well. In fact, it's the topic of my recent book, Cookies & Beer. I can attest to the fact that the combination makes grown folks smile like children. It’s joy by the glass and the plate. And it's something you should have done a long time ago.
Here's how to make it happen.
Step One: Take Inventory
It’s important to know what you have in the house. Whether you’ll be baking or just opening bags, you’ve got to assess potential partners. If you’ve got Oreos or Thin Mints, they go with Imperial Stout. If you’ve got chocolate chip cookies, look for a milk stout or something with the words “barrel-aged” on the label. Barrel-aged brews often have vanilla and caramel notes meant for chocolate. This is also the first of many excuses to buy more cookies and beer.
Step Two: Buy More Beer
Typically, the mix-pack is where seasonals and pumpkin mistakes go to die. But in this case, it might just be your best friend. It’s a chance for you to put together a lineup of singles or doubles for when you’re experimenting with new pairings. If you’re in a beer bar or at a liquor store with an extensive craft brew selection, chat up the beer guy/gal. They’ll at least know what to do with chocolate and their answers may set you off on a really interesting path. While you’re mulling things over – grab a Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter and eat it with leftover Halloween Twix (or a caramel chocolate cookie) – the inky brew is caramel’s soulmate.
Step Three: Buy Cookies from a Bakery or Pastry Chef
We all have all graham crackers in our house (they go well with a vanilla porter, by the way), but you can do better. Visit a bakery. Befriend a pastry chef. Snickerdoodles are magic with Hefeweizen, and a proper ginger snap – one that has lovely chew rather than a brittle bite – can be best friends with a hoppy wheat. If you catch a baker or chef with a free moment, tell them what you’re going to do with the cookies, watch their eyes light up and then take copious notes as they share their own ideas.
If calling an Uber feels like too much effort, take advantage of the fact that you live in a civilized world and have warm cookies brought to your front door. Dough to Door, Insomnia Cookies and Hot Box Cookies understand your plight. Food Pedaler will even bring desserts from Pastaria, where Anne Croy (a contributor to Cookies & Beer) spins sweet and savory into Instagram-ready magic.
Step Four: Be a Human Guinea Pig
You’re going to have to kiss some hops along the way to meeting your forever loves. Dixie cups, the kind you once used after brushing your teeth as a kid, are your friend in this instance.
Give yourself a short pour of beer and take a bite of cookie. Or try it the other way around. Either way, sample both individually, before you taste them together, so you have a way to compare what happens when you combine the two. Pro tip: You know a pairing is right when the background spice or flavor notes on a beer label get supercharged by the cookie.
Step Five: Make a Night of It
You’re now ready to unveil your handiwork to friends and family. The average human can tackle three beer and cookie pairings in a night. (Even Brian Sutter would cry ‘Uncle’ on the fourth.)
Pick two solid pairings and add a third wild card with a few potential brew partners. Present them in order of strength, keeping in mind both the alcohol by volume and style of brew (sour beers, for instance, are best reserved for the final pairing). Don’t overthink it. Just pop some bottles. And, yes, dunk as often as you like.
Jonathan Bender is the author of Cookies & Beer, a new cookbook that pairs 40 cookie recipes from breweries, bakeries and pastry chefs with craft beer.
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