Beer and Chocolate: An Adventure in Taste

3 tasting glasses with bits of chocolate bars

Beer and chocolate pairing? Blech! When I first introduced the idea of this adventure in taste to Mark, the owner of a local tavern, and his wife, that was their initial reaction. However, one of their favorite customers spoke up longingly about a memory of having a sour dough chocolate cake with beer. With this encouragement, Mark sat down with us and helped decide which beers to pair with the chocolates I brought along. Does Mark end up enjoying this adventure? Read on and find out!

But I don’t drink beer

As you may or may not know, I am not supposed to drink beer (too much gluten). How then could I truly share an adventure in a beer pairing? This is why I went to the experts! Any adventure involving food & beverages, always remember this “Your palate is your palate.” What tastes good to experts may not always taste good to you. These experts I went to enjoy their beers, and I enjoy my chocolates.

selection of craft chocolate laid out on a floor
For tastings, I often pick craft brands that are available in most supermarkets. Stay away from the mass brands, as they often have very little cacao and too much processed sugars.

Beer and Chocolate Pairing Tips

When I first started looking into chocolate pairings, I came across a man in the suburbs of New York City who started a second career conducting beer pairings. Something he said has stuck with me, throughout all the chocolate pairings:

Mouthgasm! You want that moment in your mouth where 1 + 1 = 3. Where two flavors combine in such a surprising way, your tastebuds burst with pleasure!

Be open to the fact that beer and chocolate can create some amazing and unexpected combinations. One thing beer can do that wine, tequila, or coffee can’t do, is mostly clear/cleanse your palate with carbonation.

  • With a flight of beers, start with the lightest flavor and move to the darker flavors.
  • Serve the beer and chocolate closer to room temperature to experience fuller depths of flavor.
  • Adventure by tasting the beer first, then tasting the chocolate. Next switch it up by doing the reverse. Due to the cleansing process of most beers you may be delightfully surprised at the flavor difference just by alternating the tasting order.
  • As a guideline – keep sweet with sweet and tart with tart and try to keep the beer sweeter or tarter than the paired chocolate.
  • Another guideline is to skip that and contrast sweet and tart to discover if they are complementary

Flavor Pairing Suggestions

rows of plastic cups filled with beers and bits of chocolate next to them

STYLE OF CRAFT BEER/CHARACTERISTIC FLAVOR

TYPE OF CHOCOLATE RECOMMENDED

IPA with crisp hoppy bitterness
Pilsner
Brown Ale
Oatmeal Stout
Peach Lambic
Belgian Strong Ale
Belgian Triple
Dark with spice/salt
Medium body dark chocolate
Almonds + dark chocolate
Milk chocolate with coffee
Spice + Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate
Citrus + Dark chocolate

A Beer and Chocolate Pairing mat

Print out your own beer & chocolate tasting mat! BEER & CHOCOLATE PAIRING ADVENTURE

The Beer and Chocolate Tasting Adventure

Since the owner of the Tap House knows his beer, we let him choose which samples will be going with the chocolates I brought along.

Based on the chart above, I selected Lindt’s Intense Orange (citrus + dark chocolate), Taza Organic Mexican Dark Guajillo Chile (dark + spice), Tcho toffee + sea salt (dark + salt) and Theo’s 70% dark ginger (dark + spice). I do wish I had a bar with almonds or a bar that was just chocolate – something to remember when you go chocolate bar shopping. Another note, I try to suggest bars that can be bought at the local stores (I’ve included my Amazon affiliate links for your online shopping pleasure…and I *may* get compensation)

Menu of beers at Vintwood Tap House
The menu of beers from the Tap House. Mark selected four for he and our friend to try.

Mark, the owner, suggested six different beers to sample. He serves mostly craft beers, so most of these are local to the Pacific North West. I’ll link to their sites, so you could compare to your local breweries if needed. 1) The Irish Horse Irish Death Dark Ale 2) Block 15 Gloria! unfiltered pilsner with crisp hoppiness 3) Pelican Dark Hearted Blonde (usually made in large batches, not by the bottle) chosen instead of the oatmeal stout. This beer has coffee and stout flavors, but in a light color. 4) Oakshire Hazy IPA 5) Oakshire Amber Ale 6) Oregon Trail Wit (with flavors of orange peel & coriander).

Traditionally in beer tastings, one goes from light to dark. We had started with four in no particular order. However, as it’s a friendly place, the waitresses and bartenders started offering ideas, and we ended up with six samples. Each beer was tested with each chocolate, and I wrote down the subjective results.

4 beer tasting glasses on tray, behind chocolate map for pairing notes

Our results

Tcho’s Sea Salt Toffee was liked with every beer. Theo’s Ginger was an ugh, until the last two when they were surprised by how well the flavors complemented each other. Similarly, the spicy chili chocolate was a “no” until it wasn’t! The citrus bar (orange) was a yes for all, except a big no for the pilsner. Here are the combo’s that all agreed were their favorites:

Irish Horse Dark Ale

Lindt’s Intense Orange

Block 15 Gloria Pilsner

Taza’s Mexican Chili

Pelican Dark Hearted Blonde Ale

Tcho Sea Salt Toffee

Oakshire Hazy IPA

Lindt’s Intense Orange

Oakshire Amber Ale

Theo’s 70% dark ginger

Oregon Trail Wit

Theo’s 70% dark ginger

The Unexpected Outcome

The best part of this Beer and Chocolate Pairing adventure, for me, was seeing the shift in attitude! Going from the thought of “blech, why would I want to combine beer and candy” to “okay, I’ll take a little taste” to “these flavors are great together!” is what being open and trying things differently is all about!

Are you going to try this now? (Tell me your thoughts and/or results in the comments below!)

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2 Comments

  1. Lisa

    I needed an invite to this!! Lol

    Reply

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