Editor’s note: This timely piece is cross-posted from our on-premise sister publication, Cheers.
As some consumers eagerly await their deliveries of Girl Scout cookie orders, several locations of The Brass Tap restaurant chain are gearing up to offer craft beer pairings with said cookies.
It’s not a system-wide or mandatory offer, says Matthew Stock, The Brass Tap’s beer specialist. But in the past two or three years, a number of the Tampa, FL-based chain’s nearly 50 bars in 22 states have done beer pairings with certain Girl Scout cookies.
Many participating Brass Tap locations will offer craft beer flights of four 5-oz. pours paired with four cookies. The flight is priced at $10, the cookies are complimentary. The promotions might be held on a specific night, or for a week or so during cookie season.
The promotion is a good way for Brass Tap to showcase local beer, which is the chain’s cornerstone: Each store has 60 draft lines, about half of which pour beer from local breweries.
And since the Girl Scout cookie season runs roughly from January through April, the beer pairings also provide a reason to get guests to come in during what can be a slow time of year. There’s often a lull “after football season ends and before the spring seasonal beers come out,” he notes.
How they the approach the specific beer/cookie combinations? Stock says that while beer pairings follow the basic principals of wine pairings, matching beer with food is more inventive because there are so many more ingredients and flavors with brews. You can pair like flavors or go for contrasts.
Take the venerable Thin Mint Girl Scout cookie. Chocolate flavors come up in a lot of styles of craft beer, Stock says, such as porter. So a brew with rich malt notes and roasty characteristics, such as Ballast Point’s Victory At Sea Imperial Porter, would pair well with the Thin Mints.
To contrast, Stock says, bring in beers with flavors that the cookie doesn’t have. The dark, tart cherry and reduced balsamic quality of Monk’s Café’s Flemish Sour Ale pairs well with the Thin Mint’s sweetness.
Samoa cookies, with chocolate, caramel and coconut flavors, pair well with beers that aren’t sweet, such as a hefeweizen. The rich, chocolate/peanut-butter patty Tagalongs are also a good match with hefeweizen.
Here are a few of Stock’s other suggested pairings:
Do-si-dos peanut-butter sandwich cookies with oatmeal stout. This type of beer is brewed with oats, which gives the beer a velvety texture.
Lemonades with Berliner Weisse. The nice tart and dry sour beer style that goes well with the lemon flavor in the shortbread cookies.
S’mores, the more recent addition to the Girl Scout cookie lineup, with smoked beers. Stock says that beers with smoked malts, such as Alaskan Brewing Co.’s smoked porter, add the campfire element to the cookie based on the graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow treat.
In general, when pairing with dessert items, you don’t want to overdo it with sweetness, Stock notes. “I would steer clear of beers with a lot of residual sugar, like sweet stouts or beers with added chocolate or caramel flavors.”
But it also comes down to personal taste, Stock adds. “If you enjoy the pairing, that’s what matters.”
Melissa Dowling is editor of Cheers magazine.