Girls Scouts have been selling cookies to fund troop activities for more than a century now. (This year alone, more than 1 million girls will sell about 200 million boxes.) The concept of pairing those cookies with craft beers is much newer and less ubiquitous, but it has been steadily gaining in popularity. Final Gravity in Roseville held a Girl Scout Cookie and beer pairing event March 3, but they paired the sweet treats with beers from four different breweries.
Elk Grove-based Flatland Brewing, never one to shy away from a novelty, took it a step further March 25 and paired four types of Girl Scout cookies with four of its own beers, two that were brewed especially for this event. Ten dollars bought a bag of four individual cookies and a four-pour flight of mostly high-alcohol brews, along with a glossy pairing guide that included tasting notes.
It only took Flatland about seven hours to sell out of their cookie-and-beer flights, so here is a bite-by-sip account of the experience for everyone who missed out.
PAIRING 1: Lemonades cookies with Cashmere Ousside (5.5 percent ABV)
A solid and safe but somewhat inauspicious beginning to the flight, as “savory slices” of lemony shortbread get paired with a crisp, citrusy saison. Cashmere Ousside was made with the relatively new Cashmere hop, a blend between Cascade and Northern Brewer hops that gives the beer a tropical and floral flavor profile that slightly clashed with the shortbread.
PAIRING 2: Caramel deLites paired with Maple Bar (12 percent ABV)
Now we’re cooking; arguably the best Girl Scout cookie paired with one of Flatland’s best beers of 2018. Brewed with Track 7 to celebrate Flatland’s second anniversary in February, Maple Bar is a nutty barleywine that uncannily mimics the flavors of a real maple bar. This iced tea-colored beer is remarkable in its restrained sweetness, and in its ability to mask a sky-high alcohol content. Adding the coconut and chocolate flavors of the Caramel deLite cookie provides an extra shot of sweetness that only enhances the existing flavors, like a variant beer.
PAIRING 3: S’Mores paired with Bean Simmons (13 percent ABV)
Maple Bar and Cashmere Ousside have been on the board for at least the last couple of months, but the Bean Simmons Imperial Coffee Vanilla Stout was put on tap the same day as the event. It was so new that we got to try samples both before and after an extra dose of coffee was added. The beer is jet black with aromas of coffee, vanilla and pudding plus flavors that mix bitter chocolate with bitter espresso. All of that naturally pairs well with a crème-covered graham cookie coated in chocolate.
PAIRING 4: Thin Mints paired with After 9 (9.3 percent ABV)
This Imperial Mint Chocolate Stout was supposed to bat third in the order, but we swapped it into the cleanup position due to our distrust of minty beers. Beers with mint always remind us of toothpaste, and dark beers with mint remind us of chocolate toothpaste. Pairing a dark, minty beer with the iconic dark, minty cookie only felt like doubling down on a bad bet. As it turned out, this was our favorite pairing of the day, a melding of flavors so perfect that it was hard to tell where the cookie stopped and the beer began. The well-balanced After 9 is piano key black with a nose of fresh mint, root beer and chocolate, and while the mint is ever-present on the palate, it never overwhelms the other flavors.
Flatland Brewing Company: 9183 Survey Road, Ste. 104, Elk Grove; flatlandbrewingco.com
Beer of the Week
Claimstake Brewing celebrated its second anniversary last weekend, releasing a quartet of collaboration beer cans at their Rancho Cordova tasting room to celebrate the milestone. To no one’s surprise, most of the beers offered a take on the ubiquitous hazy IPA, and while all were good, the all-star of the four-pack was Da East Side Punch, a fruit punch-like kettle sour made with Inu Island Ales of Hawaii.
However, the best beer that Claimstake released last weekend was a solo effort in a bottle: Brother Chad (10 percent ABV), a Belgian Tripel made with Pilsner malt, biscuit malt, blueberries and candi sugar that was aged for a year in zinfandel wine barrels. We are as averse to blueberries in beer as we are to mint, but Brother Chad turned us into believers, beautifully blending berries, flaky pie crust and wine tannin flavors.
Daniel Barnes is a freelance writer, film critic, beer enthusiast and one half of the blog “His & Her Beer Notes.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.