The Great American Beer Festival becomes the center of the beer universe in early October, when thousands of beer enthusiasts make their migratory trek to Denver, Colorado. Within the hallowed walls of the Colorado Convention Center, the Beer and Food Pavilion serves as a source of culinary education for hundreds of people each year. Here, they learn the rules of gustatory harmony, the differences between beer styles, and how flavor is perceived on their own palates.
At the 2013 festival, Beer Fox Carolyn Smagalski shared the stage with two prominent brewers from Free Will Brewing Company in Perkasie, PA: Brewmaster John Stemler and Brewer David Wood. The presentation, “Beer and Spice and Chocolate’s so Nice,” showcased the luscious flavors of Free Will’s craft beer with silky-smooth chocolates from See’s Candies of Denver, LA and the San Francisco Bay. As a bonus, those watching the show were treated to homemade Orange Oatmeal Wit-Cranberry Cookies, paired with Free Will Destiny’s Wit.
Those familiar with Philadelphia may catch the humor in this recipe title. The Free Will Brewery is regionally located in beautiful Bucks County, just outside of “the city” itself. Anyone familiar with Philly Cheese Steaks knows you can order one “wit” or “wit-out” [Cheese Whiz, that is]; but Philly’s “wit” has nothing to do with beer.
When the famed Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson wrote the Great Beers of Belgium, he included witbier in the early pages of his book, including the contribution made by Pierre Celis in saving the style from extinction. “A midsummer heat - haze in the glass. A style of brew that is quenching, cooling … but not bland,” he wrote. “Citrussy and refreshing … spicy, dry, and appetising. It looks like a pastis or Pernod, but a good example tastes as bright as a gin-and-tonic.”
Michael Jackson’s description of witbier aligns perfectly with the flavors awaiting discovery in Free Will Destiny’s Wit. Served with Orange Oatmeal Wit-Cranberry Cookies, the delicate flavors of the witbier awaken each flavor in the cookie. The fruity orange rind comes alive, while a sprinkling of cranberry tartness emerges. Effervescent bubbles scrub the tongue, washing the bumpy texture of steel-cut oats off the palate.
Orange Oatmeal Wit-Cranberry Cookies – The Recipe
1 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown Sugar
½ cup white sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon Free Will Destiny’s Wit (or substitute your own available Witbier)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Sift together dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
Cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time until fully blended. Add vanilla, orange zest, and Free Will Destiny’s Witbier (or substitute). Blend in thoroughly.
Alternately add dry ingredients and rolled oats to butter mixture, a little at a time, until fully blended. Fold in dried cranberries.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Then remove to wire rack.
Hint: For chunkier cookies, used colder butter. Flatter cookies, use room temperature butter that has softened.
Tip: 1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds can be added for extra crunch; or, sprinkle sliced almonds on the top, just before baking.
* Health Benefit: Rich in protein, calcium, vitamin B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper
A great little bottle opener for your witbier:
Hoegaarden Stainless Steel Hexagon Bottle Opener
Oops! Need cookie sheets?
Airbake Ultra by T-fal 08620PA T492AWA2 2-Piece Insulated Large Cookie Sheet Dishwasher Safe Bakeware Set with Recipe Booklet, Silver