Valentine's Day is right around the corner and if you or your significant other prefer beer over wine - a great gift is to plan a tasty, sexy and fun beer pairing with chocolate.
In the past, wine and food pairing has had a lot of coverage, but as new microbreweries are popping up all over the world and introducing us to a wider variety of tasting experiences, people are turning to the beer for pairings. And, Charles "Smitty" Golczynski, the executive chef at The Catering Co. in Martha's Vineyard said "It's actually easier to pair beer with chocolate than wine. Sometimes the intensity of chocolate takes over wine and the acidity in wine, doesn't balance right."
Before selecting chocolate and a beer to pair it with - it is important to remember the three Cs of beer pairing - compare, contrast and cleanse.
Compage: If you want your chocolate and beer to have similar flavors,.
Contrast: Want want flavors that are different, but complement each other nicely.
Cleanse: Lastly, if you're eating a greasy or fatty food like sausage (doesn't apply to this situation since we're talking about chocolate pairins), an ideal beer would be a pilsner as it works to cleanse the palate.
If you're interested in pairing chocolate with beer - you need to first determine the type of chocolate you'll be tasting which then you can find some tasty beers to enhance the flavors involved.
1. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is the easiest type of chocolate to pair and it goes well with almost any beer. Dark chocolate can be anywhere from 60-80% cocoa and tends to be more bitter than other chocolates. Try pairing it with a stout, a lambic, a fresh pilsner or a barley wine.
We suggest pairing it with a sweet or fruity beer helping to contrast the bitter with sweet orfruit-like. The sweet flavors help to tame the acidic and bite of the beer. Consider trying Seadog's Bluberry or Raspberry Wheat Ale.
We also recommend pairing dark chocolate with a stout beer. Try an oatmeal or even a chocolate stout like Young's Double Chocolate Stoute. Just be sure to avoid bitter stouts like Guiness Extra Stout, and also avoid cream stouts because they are usually extremely sweet - which is just too extreme of a contrast.
2. Milk chocolate
The most popular type of chocolate, milk chocolate, is a little more difficult to pair. However, if done correctly the chocolate can really highlight or even work to contrast the flavors in the beer. The best beers to match with milk chocolate are IPAs or pale ales.
Mirella from Beerology (found on choco-locate.com) recommends pairing milk chocolate with The Maple Porter from Nickel Brook. She says this beer is infused with pure, dark maple syrup and has a smooth creamy finish and when paired with chocolate - the chocolate works to bring out the citrus flavor in the beer.
Other IPAs to consider would be DogFish Head's 90 minute IPA or Southern Tier's 2X IPA.
And finally, remember that everyone's palate is different. Focus on what your intention is with the beer and chocolate pairings whether it is to compare, contrast or cleanse. And of course, take a moment to note on the flavors, aroma and the mouthfeel of the beer.
These are just some of the most common and recommended pairings. Have you tried a chocolate and beer pairing worth noting? Paste it in the comment section below!