Beer and chocolate pairings? You may have heard about pairing red wine and chocolate. It can be a very nice combination if you can find the right red wine. But what about pairing chocolate with beer? It can be a gastronomic delight!
Pairing with beer instead of wine
There are so many variations of a varietal wine such as Cabernet, that it can be difficult to match just the right one with your favorite desert, chocolate. In the winemaking world, vintners make very different wines from the same grape variety. One will make it dry, another will make it sweeter. One will use American oak, another will use French. The resulting wines have very different characters. Sometimes, only a true oenophile can determine that they are in fact all of the same varietal. This is not true with beer.
Historically, beers brewed in a region had the same flavor profile since they were made using the same malts and water. These beers were brewed for hundreds of years and are now identifiable as a distinct style of beer. The word “style” as we use it today is simply a way for us to communicate the characteristics of those beers that developed in a region and which all shared a common flavor profile. Brewers today that want to brew a stout will use the ingredients and processes that will produce a beer that is very similar to the stouts originally brewed in Ireland. So a stout brewed in Oregon will taste very similar to a stout brewed in Dublin.
This makes it easy to pick any beer in a particular style and pair it with food. The pairing will exhibit similarities no matter which beer you choose. Thus we come to beer and chocolate. There are certain styles which, by virtue of their flavor characteristics such as bready, toasty, caramel, toffee, roasty, chocolaty, coffee and fruity notes, just seem to go well with chocolate.
Beer and Chocolate-2 Types of Beer
Two categories of beer that pair well with chocolate are:
- Dark beers such as Porters and Stouts. These are made with highly kilned roasted malts and caramelized barley . The combination yields a beer with complex roasty and big caramel and toffee or coffee flavors. Pair these beers with chocolate truffles with caramel fillings and/or nuts, or even a milk chocolate bar with caramel. Any high quality chocolate works well with Porters and Stouts. Experiment and have fun.
- Belgian Ales will often exhibit soft caramel sweetness and spicy phenolics from the special yeast they use. These beers go very well with fruit infused chocolates, such as a chocolate covered strawberry, or raspberry truffle. Belgian Dubbels and Tripels are especially nice with chocolate. Both have residual sweetness and lots of fruity esters which pair well with your favorite chcoclate desert. Who knows more about beer and about chocolate than the Belgians?
These are just a couple of possible pairings. Any darker beer, even an amber ale, will pair nicely with chocolate. You can also look for wheat beers or light fruity beers and match with chocolate and fruit combos.
Which beers don’t pair well with chocolate?
Generally, beers that can’t stand up to chocolate’s rich fatty oils are difficult to pair. These would include session beers (ie. low alcohol beers that are meant to be consumed in quantity), light lagers, some lawnmower beers, etc. You may find exceptions, probably with lighter ales with some fruity ester notes, and these pairings may even be good. But the really great pairings come from the maltier beers with higher alcohol that can cut through the fatty cocoa butter in chocolate.
Very bitter beers are also difficult to pair with chocolate. Chocolate flavors are broken down into 7 categories: Spicy, Floral, Earthy, Fruity, Vegetative, Caramel and Nutty. For more information on these Chocolate Flavor Profiles, Click Here. To me, there seems to be a conflict between the bitterness of an IPA, and the Spicy and Floral notes in chocolate. Perhaps you may have a favorite IPA with a lot of malty sweetness that may pair favorably with some chocolates, but for most, it’s a tough sell.
Beer and Chocolate Gifts
These gifts will be ideal for that craft beer and sweets aficionado in your life. I searched around and found a few very unique beer and chocolate gift ideas. Here are the links to a few:
- Beer Lover’s Box – 16pc Box
- let’s get creative with beer & chocolate!
- Craft eer, SBnacks & Chocolate Basket
- Dallmann’s Fine Chocolates: Chocolate and Beer
- Oregon Craft Brewers Truffle Collection
- Chocolate Bars and Beer (UK)
- 10 Piece Guinness Beer Truffles
These are just a few gifts I found. Use your imagination and create your own gift pairing.
For the ultimate beer and chocolate gift, how about a Beer and Chocolate Tour of Brussels, Belgium. Click here to book a beer and chocolate tour of a lifetime.
Note: I don’t get any commissions from these links, I just found them and thought it might save you some time and effort.