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Thin Mints and beer?

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A Daisy Troop with Shelby County connections has expanded its cookie market into the realm of craft beer.

By Todd Martin

How would you like to have a classic tart German Gose, a thick, rich Imperial Stout or even a fruity Lambic with your Girl Scouts cookies?

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Some may be surprised that anyone would want a beer with their Samoas or Thin Mints, but the idea has been spreading during the past couple of years, with pairings being offered in restaurants and bars from Pennsylvania and California.

After learning about the idea, one Daisy Troop (kindergarteners and first-graders) with members from Shelby County decided not to end its efforts with door-to-door sales and a booth outside a grocery or convenience store, Instead Troop 198 decided to test out the more culinary adventurous.

“A friend of mine sent me a link to an article about pairing Girl Scouts cookies with beer, and I read that,” said Ashley Perkins, one of the troop’s leaders. “I thought, what a neat and creative idea, so I started to Google it and saw that it was being done other places. So why not here?”

Perkins sent E-mails to several outlets to shop the idea, and the owners of Louisville Beer Store – a beer store and tasting room dedicated solely to craft beer from all over the world – jumped at the opportunity.

“We thought it was a really great idea,” co-owner Lori Beck said. “We ran it by our staff, and some of our regulars and everybody was really excited.”

The two worked out a time and delivery for a few dozen boxes, and Beck said the started to advertise the idea at the store and on the Facebook page.

“And then a few days later they wanted more, and a few days later they emailed again and wanted even more,” Perkins said. “We ended up making three deliveries of about one hundred and fifty boxes.”

Beck said the idea took off with their patrons.

“It was a smashing success,” she said. “We had more than two hundred people over the course of the week. We had never considered doing it ourselves, if Ashley hadn’t called, I don’t think it’s something we would have done.”

Store manager Ricky Brown, who was on hand for most of the tastings, said he’d never seen a tasting go over so well.

“It was crazy,” he said. “Usually we’ll advertise certain hours for tastings, but we don’t really stick to those. If you’re a little early or late, it’s fine, whatever. But on the first day, last Sunday, at 2 p.m. [the advertised time], we just had a wave of people.”

Brown said he thought the Girl Scouts cookies maybe made it more open for new people to try.

“I think there’s a whole intro to beer with Girl Scouts cookies,” he said. “I think it was a gateway for people to come in and try something. I work a lot of the tastings and know a lot of our regulars, and we had more than two hundred people come for Girl Scouts cookie tastings and there were a lot of new faces in there.”

 

Matching cookies with beer

A quick Internet search of Girl Scouts cookies and beer will bring up dozens of stories and pairings, but Beck said they use two rules when working on pairings.

“When we go about pairings, what’s successful for us is contrasting and complimentary flavors,” she said. “For instance, we paired the Rodenbach Grand Cru with Tagalongs [a chocolate covered cookie with peanut butter]. Those flavors really work well together, a lot like peanut butter and jelly.”

The Rodenbach Grand Cru is a Flemish Red Ale with flavors of dark fruits and slightly sour finish.

For complimentary flavors, she noted the store paired the lemon-flavored Savannah Smiles with Ritterguts Gose, which has an acidic lemon flavor, as well. It’s also fairly tart.

The other pairings were Founders Backwoods Bastard with Samoas, La Trappe Dubbel and Dulce de Leche and Flat 12 Lactomatic Milk Stout and Thin Mints.

“We had a really diverse styling, nothing too light,” Brown added. “Our client base really knows beer, so we wanted to keep it interesting for them.”

Beck said the beers ranged from Germany to Indianapolis to Belgium and the Netherlands.

“And we tried to choose cookies that would allow us to work with as many different flavor profiles as possible,” she said.

 

Lessons for the troop

Perkins said the sale of an additional 150 boxes of cookies was a big boost for her troop, which has set short- and long-term goals for its fundraising, such as trips to St. Louis and New York City and adding more boxes to their Operation Christmas Child project.

As far as answering questions the girls have about selling to the Louisville Beer Store, Perkins said it fits in with the troops goals.

“We talked to them about promoting small business and thinking ‘outside the cookie box,’” she said. “The partner ship is an illustration of entrepreneurship that serves as a lucrative model for the Daisies and the store. The relationship really was beneficial to all vested in the outcome. Partnership with the Louisville Beer Store was a catalyst by which we, as a troop, could have an effect on every Daisy in Troop 198. The cookies bought by the store were equally distributed across all six Daisies and fairly affected every girl, and they have been our number one buyer.”

She also noted that troop members had a conversation about why customers had to be 21 to enter the store and worked that into building awareness about identifying customers.

“Similarly, when we set up a booth outside a grocery store before one of the many wintery storms, we built awareness that our customers might be consumers purchasing groceries in preparation for the storm. As a troop, we value discussion and inquiry based thinking that leads us to the why, what, when, where, why, and how of our actions.”

And both sides are excited to expand the idea next year.

“We’re definitely going to do this again,” Brown said. “The novelty of only being able to do it at this time of the year, and with the success we had this year, we can market it better.”

And Perkins said her troop is already looking at ways to expand the idea of Girl Scout cookies and pairing with other foods and drinks.

“I think we’ll be more intentional with it next year, and we’ll have a better understanding of how to market [the idea] after this experience,” she said. “With a full year to work with the girls and think up new ideas, I think we’ll really be able to expand it next year.”