For many of us, milk and cookies was our first food pairing experience. The cookies, whether homemade chocolate chip or store-bought Oreos, made that relatively benign glass of milk taste way better.
We probably didn’t sit around and remark about how that burnt chocolate note of the Oreo teased out these nuanced grassy lactose flavor notes from your chilled beverage. And we didn’t put it on Instagram. But we dunked and nibbled and gulped our way into a heightened awareness, simple as it may have been.
At 6 p.m. on Jan. 21, you can delve into the grown-up version, featuring a top-notch California craft brewery and one of Sacramento’s leading craft beer bars. Dubbed “Milk & Cookies Night,” this casual tasting event at Pangaea Bier Cafe, (2743 Franklin Blvd., Sacramento) pairs a pint of Nitro Merlin Milk Stout from Firestone Walker of Paso Robles with two brown butter and sea salt cookies by Brown Butter Cookie Co. (with shops in Paso Robles and Cayucos). Reservations are not required. The event is first come, first served.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a cookies and beer pairing at New Glory Craft Brewery. It was a fun and enlightening experience, even if they had nearly run out of cookies by the time I got there. As I write this, I have a book on my desk called “Cookies & Beer: Bake, Pair, Enjoy,” by Jonathan Bender. I’ll be baking several of the recipes and following the recommended beer pairings for an upcoming “Beer Run.”
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Clearly, there’s something about cookies and craft beer that is resonating these days.
“I think more and more people are getting into beer pairings in general,” said Anders Kindall, Pangaea’s beer buyer. “Stouts and sweeter beers are a perfect compliment to desserts, and cookies are usually easy to make. This is the first time I’ve paired cookies with beer, so it’s going to be exciting for me.”
What can you expect at an event like this or if you try cookies and beer pairings at home? Watch for how the cookie, once it coats your palate, highlights primary flavor notes of the beer or brings secondary flavors to the forefront. The idea is to use the cookie to enhance the beer-drinking experience. Whether you’re new to craft beer or a seasoned aficionado, these kinds of tastings are a great way to educate your palate.
“This is an easy entry for people to get into pairings. Look for contrasting or complementary flavors with the cookie and the beer,” Kindall said. “The ... Merlin has a very subtle bitterness on its own. With the sweetness of the cookie, you may be able to notice some dark chocolate notes that you otherwise might not be able to taste.”
The price for the beer and cookies has not be finalized, but it will not be cost prohibitive – probably around $10 or slightly higher.