04 December 2016
We’ve been actively following the Flying Dog Holiday Collection since 2014, and I’ll admit it was really cool to have brewmaster Matt Brophy walk us through the first release. We followed along with the 2015 release, and for the last few months we’ve been bringing you a peek at the 2016 beers…so naturally we were excited to get to sample them this weekend.
If you’re unfamiliar with the collection, each year Flying Dog and the famous Otterbein’s Cookies (a Baltimore institution since 1881) team up to bring us a unique collection of beers and matching cookies for our sampling pleasure. The beers are always unique and the cookies are always delicious, so off we go.
We started the fun with Flying Dog Horchata Lager. This beer uses Perle hops, vanilla beans and cinnamon and while it has some standard lager flavors, the Mexican Horchata flavors, the spicy cinnamon and the sweet vanilla flavors really take control. This is a nice beer and when you pair it up with the Otterbein’s sugar cookie, the sum of the parts really adds up to more than the individual beer or cookie. The simple sugar cookie compliments the beer, while staying out of the way to let the Horchata flavors really shine. This beer hits 6.8%-AbV and 23 IBU.
Up next we decided to hit the Flying Dog Raspberry Leaf Ale and I was really pleased to smell and taste the bright and prominent tart raspberries really taking center stage. The Perle hops in this beer were more prominent than I expected, but the vegetal raspberry leaves and tart raspberry fruit, still took top billing. We paired this beer with the Otterbein’s lemon sugar cookies and once again it worked really well. The lemony and citrusy cookie had just enough flavor to cut through the raspberry flavors of the beer, with a strong sugar cookie background to balance it all out very well. I expect this will be my favorite combination but stay tuned. This beer hits 6.5%-AbV and 20 IBU.
Next we wandered into the Christmas IPA next and found it to be sticky and resinous (this is a good thing). This beer uses Columbus hops so the piney and spruce-y flavors lead the way. Of course the addition of spruce and tangerine serves to amp up the spruce flavors and clean it all up with some citrus bite. The perfect compliment for this beer is the Otterbein’s orange white chocolate chip cookies. Let me first pause to say that this is a really unique and tasty cookie, and it was easily the one cookie our tasters fought over the most. The orange flavors of the cookie highlighted the tangerine in the beer, and once again the sweet white chocolate balanced it all out and wrapped it all up into a tidy and tasty package. Maybe I spoke too soon on declaring my favorite combination above. This beer hits 7.6%-AbV and a hoppy 60 IBU.
Finally we decided to sample the Flying Dog Baltic Porter. This big boy has loads of chocolate malt flavors with some really pleasant dark raisin flavors...and of course you can’t miss the “Baltic” portion of the beer in the big boozy finish. We paired this beer with the Otterbein’s Chocolate Chip cookie and of course this one really works. The chocolate chips compliment the chocolate malts and the sweetness of the cookie really plays nicely with the warm flavors and sweet, but balanced, finish. This beer hits 8.4%-AbV and 25 IBU.
After three years of sampling the Flying Dog Holiday Collection and their corresponding cookies, I really think the 2016 combinations are my favorites. The cookies really seem to compliment the beers, even more than I remember in previous years and the beers (and cookies) still stand on their own.
Be sure to get out there and pick up the Flying Dog Holiday Collection 2016 and Otterbein’s cookies and try them for yourself. The combinations and the individual beers and cookies will really take your taste buds for a pleasant holiday ride. In the end I actually liked a beer and cookie that were not the standard pairing so be sure to sample them all…and when you do, be sure to let us know what YOU think.