It’s Girl Scout cookie season, which means you’ve most likely already been targeted by adorably enthusiastic brown- and green-clad Brownies and Juniors holding brightly decorated signs outside grocery stores. Or maybe you’ve been hit up by your coworkers via email or group text to help their daughters reach their sales targets. If the boxes are piling up in your pantry, why not indulge a little differently this year? Red’s Table in Reston, Virginia, has a robust local beer program complete with 14 rotating regional offerings on draft, as well as bottled and canned options from DC, Maryland and Virginia breweries. Co-owner Ryan Tracy recently walked us through pairing options for the eight cookie varieties available in the D.C. area, so crack open those boxes--and those growlers, bottles or cans--and pour over these cookie and beer pairings.
S’Mores with 3 Stars Brewing Co. Above the Clouds Farmhouse Pale Ale
The funky, fruity notes of a Farmhouse Pale Ale from D.C. are just the thing to temper the super-sweet cookie version of the classic campfire sticky treat (a new offering from Little Brownie Bakers, the company behind Girl Scout cookies.) The beer--think of it as a Saison / IPA hybrid--touts citrus notes and mild citrus flavor that cut into the richness of the graham cracker, chocolate and marshmallow.
Do-si-dos with Mustang Sally Amber Lager
Tracy keeps the focus on the creamy peanut butter filling sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies with this Vienna-style amber lager from the Chantilly producer. Lager is one of those crowd-pleasing beers that’s toasty, malty, not-too-sweet and incredibly easy-to-drink, he says, and this version is also a great way to win over the Bud Light crowd with a more artisanal option.
Savannah Smiles with Port City Optimal Wit Belgian Witbier
One local beer is just made to pair with the zingy, tangy lemon-flavored cookies dusted with powdered sugar. The immensely popular Belgian-inspired Port City Optimal Wit from Alexandria is bursting with light-body and thirst-quenching zesty citrus flavor that’s every bit the match for the refreshing cookie, which replaces the wedge of lemon that many guests ask the beer to be garnished with.
Trefoils with Black Ox Rye Porter
These shortbread cookies are like a blank canvas, Tracy points out, so you really could go in any direction when it comes to partnering them with a beer. Here, rye adds robust dark chocolate and coffee flavors to the Porter from Ashburn, and its slight spice and enticing maltiness lend a little something something to the slightly salty, slightly sweet crumbly cookies. (In case you’re wondering, the word “trefoil” refers to the three overlapping rings in the Girl Scouts logo.)
Toffee-tastics with Bold Rock IPA (India Pressed Apple) Cider
This gluten-free buttery cookie is studded with bits of sweet and crunchy toffee; it’s matched with a gluten-free liquid option so the the intolerant can also partake in a brew and baked goods pairing. The dry-hopped cider from Nellysford, Virginia is made with India pressed apples, leading to a crisp and clean beverage that keeps the cookie front and center.
Tagalongs with Port City Monumental East Coast IPA
Made in an East Coast style (which translates to a more subtle hoppiness than those made on the West Coast), this crisp and smooth IPA from the Alexandria brewery still has the moxie to cut through the rich peanut butter of the chocolate-coated crispy cookies, yet it doesn’t leave you with any off-putting lingering bitterness.
Samoas with Caboose Boxcar Brown Ale
Crisp cookies coated in caramel, sprinkled with toasted coconut and drizzled with dark chocolate--yup, Samoas (called Caramel deLites in some markets) are one of the most popular flavors around the country. A chocolate-ly, caramel-y brown ale from the Vienna brewery located on the W&OD trail coaxes out even more of the same flavors from the rich and chewy cookies.
Thin Mints with O’Reilly’s Stout
Whether you like to eat the wafers straight out of the box or straight out of the freezer, this creamy, smooth stout from Pennsylvania won’t downplay the bracingly refreshing mint and chocolate flavors that everyone loves. And lest you think that this style of beer is too heavy and rich, Irish stouts are actually somewhat light in body, with a low ABV that will easily make you want to go back for another pint.