Deck the Halls With Hops and Barley
A Review of Oatmeal Raisin Stout by Flying Dog Brewing Co.
Posted on 11/24/2014 by Chops
                   
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Many craft beer fans eagerly anticipate the winter months because they bring us delightful treats like big bold stouts and winter warmers. It's also common to pair strong dark ales with sweet desserts and roaring fireplaces. They warm the belly and offer a much needed reprieve from holiday stress.

This is why I have to hand it to the Flying Dog Brewing Company and their new line of holiday brews. Their conceptually brilliant formula states the following: great beer + great cookies = total awesomeness. Flying Dog crafts great beer, so they had that covered. On the flip side, their Baltimore-based neighbor, Otterbein's Bakery, makes great cookies. So naturally, they decided to team up and bring holiday cheer to all beer fans.

And there it was: holiday brews paired with artisan cookies. Even the bottles denote which cookies to pair with. I could not help but grin and nod in approval when I discovered these delightful brews. There are four beers in the series and I have sampled three as of this review. I now complete the experience with Flying Dog's Oatmeal Raisin Stout, to be paired with, you guessed it, Otterbein's oatmeal raisin cookies.

In the glass, this beer had a deep dark brown coloration that was near black. It came with a creamy tan head that had really nice retention. On the nose, I was greeted by a savory aroma of dark fruits (namely raisins), sweet Belgian bread, warming spices, and a light coffee roast. This was a very enticing introduction that got the full attention of my salivary glands. I wasted no time diving in for that first sip.

The flavor mirrored the aroma quite well. The only notable addition was that of a light chocolate note. All of the primary notes were easily identifiable: dark fruits, Belgian bread, spices, and coffee roast. The savory raisins and sweet bread characters ended up being primary focuses due to the utilization of whole raisins and B Belgian yeast in the brewing process. The hops profile was muted and seldom seen, but necessarily so considering the style focus. The beer had a light-to-medium body, started off smooth on the palate, then gained a roasted grittiness in the middle ground. The finish was a tad dry and exited with a light chocolaty aftertaste.

As far as the pairing went, oatmeal raisin cookies did not offer much insight into an oatmeal raisin stout. Not exactly a surprising revelation, but it was a delightful pairing nonetheless. Primary flavors got a bit amplified and the addition of cookie sweetness definitely pushed the beer into dessert territory. After all, roast and sweetness often go hand and hand in the craft beer world.

Overall, Flying Dog's Oatmeal Raisin Stout was a delightful stand alone brew with lots of great character. To be perfectly honest, the beer didn't even need a cookie pairing. However, the pairing did accentuate its best qualities. This is a beer (and pairing) that I can easily recommend to any and all beer fans. Stout lovers will adore the unique interpretation and complimentary flavors, while novices can enjoy an easily accessible beer version of an oatmeal raisin cookie.

Now that I have sampled my way through Flying Dog and Otterbein's holiday beer-cookie pairings, I must tip my drinking hat to both companies for a beautiful concept. I sincerely hope that this becomes a holiday tradition because these beers and cookies were endlessly enjoyable. As an added bonus, they're the perfect treats to share with family and friends. They may even be the perfect stress diffusers for the holiday season.

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Oatmeal Raisin Stout by Flying Dog Brewing Co.
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