Grilled cheese and tomato soup, peanut butter and jelly, graham crackers and milk — some flavors just go together. I had my doubts, though, when I heard about this weekend’s launch of “cookie beers” from the team at Woods Beer. Riding on the coattails of seasonal Samoas and tasty Tagalongs seemed like a bit of a cheap shot at selling more suds.
“That sounds … terrible,” my partner said when I mentioned the idea a few evenings prior. Not wanting to drink alone, I tried to make a case for the dessert-like beers, but I was more skeptical than excited about a Chocolate Peppermint Porter or a Coconut Caramel Dubbel. Still, as a girl who grew up eating chili with cinnamon rolls and who still makes a meal out of carrots with peanut butter, I felt obligated to give them a try.
We met up at Woods Beer and Brewery on the corner of 17th Street and Telegraph Avenue in Uptown Oakland and set to work on a flight of five cookie-themed beers, starting with the Shortbread Golden Ale.
“Wow,” my partner said after the first sip. “I wasn’t actually expecting it to taste like a beer.”
I, on the other hand, wasn’t expecting it to taste like a cookie. Oddly, it did both.
We moved on to a sweet but balanced Coconut Caramel Dubbel, followed by a super smooth Peanut Butter Cream Ale, a heady nitro Choco Peanut Butter Stout — the most popular of the five — and a roasty Chocolate Peppermint Porter.
While you may be able to polish off a sleeve of Thin Mints in a single sitting, these beers are a bit decadent for that caliber of consumption. Though not overly saccharine, they’re quite a bit sweeter than your typical ale.
“They were designed for a 10-ounce pour,” says Jim Woods, founder of Woods Beer. “They won’t pass any six-pack test.”
Personally, I doubt I could make it through more than two. But in addition to giving you the whole array of flavors, the $22 flight of five-ounce pours comes with a plate of paired cookies and a merit badge once you’ve finished. The side-by-side cookie-and-beer comparison is fun, if a bit gimmicky. My best cookie imposter award went to the Coconut Caramel Dubbel, although I found the Peanut Butter Cream Ale to be more drinkable. The flavors of the Shortbread Golden Ale were difficult to discern by the end of the flight, but the Choco Peanut Butter Stout (which comes in at 8 percent ABV) became better with time. Most disappointing was the Chocolate Peppermint Porter, which was light on chocolate notes and minty to the point of tasting outright medicinal.
This is Woods’ fourth year of cranking out cookie beers. While the formulas come out just a bit differently each time, the recipe is fairly set. Three barrels (93 gallons) of each variety are divided among the five Woods locations and were tapped last Friday. Pre-ordered crowler packs are being capped off at Woods Cervercería and are offered at multiple locations, though 32 ounces is a lot of sweet sipping.
Much like their boxed inspirations, the buzzword beers will be available for a limited time, and since they don’t do so well chilling out in the back of a freezer — where my Thin Mints stay for at least a week — you’ll want to drop by sooner than later if you’re keen to give them a try.
Woods Bar and Brewery, 1701 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, woodsbeer.com
Woods Cervercería, 3801 18th St., San Francisco
Woods Polk Station, 2255 Polk St., San Francisco
Woods Outbound, 4045 Judah St., San Francisco
Woods Island Club, 422 Clipper Cove Way, Treasure Island