‘Tis the season for sweets and imbibing!
With the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, everybody is preparing their best dishes and desserts to share with friends and loved ones. I, for one, enjoy a good saison-style beer with any of the savory holiday goodies. But what about desserts? Shall ye stop imbibing when consuming a diabetic dessert? Nay, ye shant! There are so many possibilities with the abundance of flavors from both dessert and beer options. Here’s a list of nine desserts you can pair with your local Bay Area beers:
Ginger Bread + Anchor Brewing’s 2015 Christmas Ale
The moist, fluffy texture accompanied by the subtly sweet ginger, cinnamon spice flavors of a gingerbread surely would need an equally flavorful beer to follow it. Anchor’s Christmas Ale is the perfect match. It has a subtly sweet, medium-light body lying at 5.5 percent alcohol, yet full spiced flavors that fill the mouth. Every year Anchor Brewing Company releases their Christmas seasonal with a different recipe, one of the few American breweries to release a Christmas seasonal beer. This year, it is less piney, with more graham cracker and spice characters.
I like thumbprint cookies, especially with a Hershey’s Kiss chocolate in the middle. Even better, if it’s made with rich, creamy peanut butter (*squeaaaal*). We don’t have a peanut butter beer from the Bay Area to match with it. Besides, I think it will be overkill. Instead, why don’t we add more sweets to fill our arteries with? High Water Brewing’s Campfire Stout uses graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows to make their famous s’mores beer. As crazy sweet as that may sound, I wasn’t being facetious. Campfire Stout is only 6.5 percent alcohol and has a pleasantly dry finish. It’s perfect with a sugary chocolate and (hopefully) peanut buttery cookie!
This one may be strange to pair a beer with, because, honestly, why would you pair a beer with some soupy fruit sauce? I have a question for you: Why are we all here reading up on dessert/beer pairings? Yes, because we are geeks; beer geeks. And it’s fun!
Fruits, especially tangy fruits, are a challenge to pair with anything unless it’s with cake or bread. Like liquid bread (hey, that’s the title of this website!). And what’s more bread-y than a Belgian-inspired ale? This quadruple ale lying at 9.5 percent alcohol is surprisingly light yet is complex enough to cushion that tangy cranberry sauce. Paris Of The West is brewed with flame raisins, candi sugar, orange peels, and then fermented with french yeast.
Dried fruit cake + Russian River Brewing’s Supplication
Some people enjoy a good ol’ hearty dried fruit cake. Some people can’t stand them, especially when it’s only 20 percent cake like in the picture. Well, what if you were to pair it with Russian River Brewing’s Supplication brewed with sour cherries? This excellent beer is bold and sour enough to match up to this wall of fruit cake. The wine barrel character in the beer pairs nicely with the dried fruit perfume, while the sourness cuts through its thick flavor of the dried fruits. Sadly, nowadays you pretty much have to go up to the brewery to get this beer since they’ve cut down considerably in their distribution. If you don’t have access to this beer, try it with the Paris Of The West from above!
You would think a thick chocolate cake like the yule log will be best with a chocolaty stout. You can do that, too, but I recommend trying it with Almanac’s Dogpatch Sour. It may be strange at first, but the sour cherry flavors of the beer matches nicely with this chocolate goodness. The key aspect is the yule log’s center. The cream in the middle acts asa mediator between the two contrasting flavors. Give it a try!
Apple Pie + Brouwerij West’s Tripel
Apple pie is my go-to pie. You can have many variations on it and even if it’s a less than mediocre one, it still tastes good! Depending on how thick and sweet the apple pie is, the San Jose-brewed Brouwerij West’s Tripel could be the right beer to wash it down with. The tripel style’s flavor is usually characterized by its bread-y, apple, light fruit flavors with caramel candi sugar sweetness. Brouwerij West’s Tripel is actually on the lighter crisp side, so although similar flavors, it compliments the apple pie.
Pumpkin Pie + Heretic Brewing’s Chocolate Hazelnut Porter
Pumpkin pie. ‘Nuff said. It’s the pie that never gets old from October to the end of December. For this pairing, I did not play matchmaker. I played around with the juggling of flavors between the creamy, pumpkin nutmeg spice, with the chocolate and hazelnut in Heretic’s beer. The beer on its own is really tasty, so be sure to make or buy a solid pumpkin pie for this contrast pairing.
Pecan Pie + Speakeasy Ales & Lagers’ Bourbon Barrel-Aged Scarface Imperial Stout
Imagine sweet, brown sugar, toffee, caramel flavors on a crust that’s lavishly soaked with a big, black and bold vanilla bourbon bomb of a stout caressing this pie in your mouth. Am I the only one that needs a cold shower? If not, you may go for a second round. The idea for this pairing came from a dinner party my friends and I organized. One of them brought a pecan pie that he made using Goose Island’s Bourbon Country Stout. To my recollection, an accurate response we all had was “palategasm” It was decadent as hell, and we liked it! The 9.5 percent alcohol Barrel-Aged Scarface and the regular Scarface is out in stores now.
P.S. Try it with Three Twins Madagascar Vanilla ice cream or Polly Ann’s Coconut Ice Cream (this coconut ice cream rocks!)
Cypress Grove’s Truffle Tremor + Drake’s Brewing’s Jolly Rodger 2015
Our last dessert pairing is not as common, but in some circles, people end a meal by having cheese. Our local cheese monger, MissCheeseMonger, has said typically goat, soft ripened, washed rind, or blue cheese is the way to go. I have chosen one of Cypress Grove Chevre’s popular goat cheese: their Truffle Tremor. Believe it or not, a bite of this truffle-heavy cheese paired with a sip of this sweet but earthy coffee stout may change your life.
Everybody’s palate is different, as are our taste and preference, so we experience things differently. But I recommend you give all these pairings a try and tell us which one worked for you!