What could be better than chocolate paired with…beer? Unbeknownst to many, beer pairs beautifully with a number of different foods (not just pizza and wings), including chocolate.
Ahh chocolate…good chocolate is like heaven. Its voluptuously smooth texture melts in your mouth and goes straight to your brain, increasing endorphin and serotonin levels, giving you an overwhelming sense of well-being. The Aztecs believed it to be an aphrodisiac and there must be something to that because today chocolate is exchanged by lovers wishing to express their passion. Some even say that chocolate can be a substitute for sex – although I love chocolate, I wouldn’t go that far.
Yes, chocolate certainly gets lots of attention, and sommeliers and wine aficionados are forever trying to find a wine that will marry harmoniously with it. Port has been tried with it, as has Banyuls, Icewine, and Sauternes. Sometimes the match can be a beautiful thing, but care must be taken. A lot of the time something is missing. It doesn’t have that spark, that magic that makes it the perfect pairing we’re all craving.
This is where beer comes in. Beer? Yes, beer. Beer, typically dark beer, has a much higher success rate with chocolate. The reason for this is that while wine can only match the sweetness of chocolate, beer can also match the flavours. Beer is made with malted barley that has been roasted in a kiln. The roast can be a very light toasting or it can be roasted to a deep black colour. Not only does the roasting contribute to the beer’s colour, it also imparts certain aromas and flavours. It’s very similar to the way different roasts of coffee beans create different styles in your coffee cup. One of the darker roasts of malt used in beer making is even known as”chocolate malt” , as it is roasted to the point where it actually smells and tastes like chocolate, caramel and coffee. Darker coloured beer, such as porters and stouts, take on these caramelized flavours, making them excellent partners to chocolate.
Chocolate and beer are similar in that they balance sweetness and bitterness. In chocolate, the sweetnes comes from sugar while the bitterness comes from the cocoa beans. In beer, the sweetness comes from the malt and the bitterness from the hops. Unlike wine, it is not necessary that the beer be as sweet or sweeter than the dessert. Beer has bitterness which allows it to cut through sugar in a way similar to that of a sip of dark roasted coffee.
Have fun and experiment with chocolate and beer. If you find a particularly good match then share it with someone special and they’ll be very impressed with your genius. Not only did you give them that forever romantic treat, chocolate, you also enhanced the whole experience by marrying it with a delicious beverage that flows so easily down the back of the throat. He or she will be so grateful for that moment of gustatory enlightenment that who knows where it could lead…
Here are some beer and chocolate pairings to get you started:
Thomas Hardy’s Ale: This aromatic beer has a deep amber colour with aromas of caramel, butterscotch, apricot and a hint of orange, with a fresh baked bread character. It has a very full-body and a sweetness that is cut by the bitterness which helps prevent it from being cloying. It’s a very flavourful and fruity beer with a lot going on. But, be careful with this one as it has 11.7% alcohol. It’s best to share a bottle.
Pair with: Chocolate mousse with vanilla creme brulee. The caramel flavours of the beer match with both the chocolate and the creme brulee. It also has the body to stand up to the sweetness of the dessert. The extra fruit the beer contributes just adds another dimension to this already delicious dessert.
Young’s Luxury Double Chocolate Stout: This beer is a very dark brown colour with a nice foamy head which is just brimming with chocolate aromas. It’s almost like a big cup of liquid chocolate. It’s quite bitter in the mouth with slight coffee ground flavours on the finish.
Pair with: chocolate fudge brownie: The chocolate flavours in the beer match with the brownie and the bitterness in the beer enables it to cut through the very thick brownie texture making it seem somewhat lighter and refreshing on the palate.
Mort Subite Framboise Lambic Beer: This is a raspberry-flavoured beer made in Belgium using wild yeasts. It is ruby-coloured and has a pronounced aroma of raspberries. It is sweet on the palate with an almost Kool-Aid crystal raspberry flavour and a tart acidity which refreshes the palate. It’s also a nice beer to drink on its own on a patio on a hot summer day.
Pair with: Molten chocolate cake: Chocolate and fruit have always been great partners and this is no exception with the beer contributing raspberry flavours to the very chocolate dessert. You can serve this beer in Champagne flutes if you really want to impress your guests.
Leave me a comment and let me know if you have had an incredible beer and chocolate experience.