Brooklyn Brewery Winter Ale and a Gingerbread Man

Posted on 11.25.07 7:13PM under Pairing, Winter Warmer

Gingerbread AlienI’ve made a real point this season to get my hands on as many winter seasonal beers as I can. It’s been really fun trying all the different ones, to see each brewer’s individual take on what it means to be a holiday or winter beer. Some have been similar to each other, and some have been unique to themselves, but none have dissapointed. As I taste each one, I imagine a food that would go great with each beer. A lot of times it comes up with the old standards: barbecue, or stew, or mexican, or whatever old normal thing you’d think of with a beer. Tonight I found myself somewhat inspired.

Yesterday, my niece was here, and we had a nice kid event with her and my two little ones making gingerbread cookies. This was a mix from a box, but we had to add a few things. Namely, the molasses had me thinking of brewing and beer the whole time. I could only think of George Washington’s porter. I think I was really thinking of a combination of the famous recipe for small beer, plus a few issues ago BYO was giving porter recipes, and I know they would use molasses as fermentables in colonial times, since barley was scarce.

Last night, I didn’t really do a tasting, because my brother in law was over, and I normally keep it pretty casual when visitors are here. Besides, my homebrew IPA was ready, so I had that first, and was then not really in perfect condition for tasting, as my palette had been assaulted by Cascade hops and as we all know, judgement naturally goes down in proportion to the amount of beer consumed.

After my own IPA last night, I popped the first of my latest six pack: Brooklyn Brewery’s Winter Ale. It was dark and nothing really crazy. I’ll just say I was not impressed. Then tonight I did the official tasting on it (which I will post on BeerAdvocate later). I appreciate its subtle characteristics a lot more tonight. As I was tasting it, I got to the part where I think of “what would I eat with this?” And I thought “gingerbread man!” The gentle toffee and caramel notes in the beer and mild but balanced hoppiness would match perfectly with a sweet but slightly burnt and bitter gingerbread man with raisins and homemade frosting covering it.

Man was I right. First of all, raisins just go perfectly with gingerbread. A la carte, I prefer a chocolate chip to a raisin any day, but on a gingerbread man, you can’t beat a raisin. The homemade frosting (which is basically just sugar) adds sweetness to the mix. This all danced gracefully with the Brooklyn beer. Taking a sip of the Winter Ale while just finishing chewing the gingerbread man was divine. The maltiness in the beer swept in to soften the trailing edge of the gingerbread man and his sweet white coat. The raisin stuck around just long enough to work with the plum-like flavors in the beer. And the hops in the beer cleaned everything off my mouth just in time, leaving me wanting for more of both cookie and beer. In a way, I almost felt like Garrett Oliver had designed this beer just for such a food pairing (even though the bottle says some nonsense about pairing with “stews, roasts, and holiday dishes.”)

So if you have a chance, make some gingerbread men, make some plain frosting, and put some frosting and raisins on the gingerbread men (or I suppose you could make gingerbread trees or santas or snowmen or just blobs (or even just buy some gingerbread of some sort)). Then get a six pack, or even a single bottle of the Brooklyn Brewery Winter Ale. Then enjoy them together. You will not be disappointed.

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  1. Posted by Brainard Brewing » Blog Archive » Flavors of Alcohol on 11.28.07 6:22 PM

    […] the mild. Brooklyn Brewery Winter Ale. I blogged about it earlier. Goes great with a gingerbread man. This beer is so subtle and balanced. It is easy to miss it, and […]