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On tap Wednesday: Christmas cookies and beer

River Rat Brewery’s Mike Tourville likes a dessert pairing with the My Morning Stout ale. For the upcoming holiday event, he plans a mint bark.
River Rat Brewery’s Mike Tourville likes a dessert pairing with the My Morning Stout ale. For the upcoming holiday event, he plans a mint bark. File photo/The State

Mike Tourville, owner and brewer at Columbia’s River Rat Brewery, likes to get creative with his brews. And we’re talking about more than a few interesting herbs or a hint of citrus.

Last year, he used Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal to add sweet spice to one of his brews. At Christmas, he’s been known make minty beer – using candy canes.

“We literally will throw candy canes into a vat of light beer,” he said. “It’s really, really good.”

On Wednesday, Dec. 21, he’ll take that creativity one step further with a special holiday Christmas Cookie and Beer Pairing event.

It’s not as odd as it might seem. Brewers have been pairing craft beer and dark chocolate for years; and fruity hard ciders have been known to stand in for sparkling wine at dessert time.

Tourville said the cookie idea came to him as he was sipping a Winter Warmer Ale, a rich brew known for its notes of ginger, cinnamon and orange zest.

“I thought it would be great with a gingersnap or a gingerbread man, something not too sweet, but with a little spice,” he said. “It just went from there.”

Soon, he was on to what might work with the decadent My Morning Stout, a caffeinated ale smooth with vanilla, cocoa and a healthy dose of Jittery Joes coffee.

“I came up with mint bark,” he said. “We make it with saltines, toffee, mint and chocolate. All those flavors will be amazing together.”

Traditional sugar cookies are also on the menu. Tourville said they’ll be served with a special spiced beer that might – or might not – be candy cane.

Tourville even found a use for Christmas fruitcake: it will accompany River Rat’s 803 IPA.

“The dried fruit and walnuts will be great with the bitter flavor of the IPA,” he said. “It’s actually really good fruitcake, too. It’s my mom’s recipe.”

In addition to the beer and homemade cookie pairing, the event will include an Ugly Christmas Sweater contest and a Dog Christmas Costume contest. There will be family-friendly Christmas movies and a free cookie or two (with milk) for the kids.

If you go

River Rat Brewery's Christmas Cookie And Beer Pairing

WHEN: 6:30-9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21

WHERE: River Rat Brewery, 1231 Shop Road

COST: $12, includes four 8-ounce pours and four accompanying cookies

INFO: www.riverratbrewery.com

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