If chocolate, vanilla, toffee and dried fruit are flavors and aromas that are commonly associated with beers. Why then are we so hesitant to pair beers with chocolates and cordials? The rich chocolate flavors of a porter or stout are only more pronounced with the proper chocolate.
When drinking a beer with nutty esters the addition of almonds or caramel only makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
Recently Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar in New York City paired Budweiser American Ale with crunchy almond tea truffles. This is a great match seeing Budweiser American Ale is brewed with caramel malted barley. The caramel malted barley not only gives the beer a great deep rich color but also adds great caramel\toffee aromas.
The beer and chocolates complement each other in a symbiotic way. The chocolate amplifying the flavors in the malt. The beer cleansing the palate for the next wave of caramel and chocolate.
When pairing beers and chocolate we can accent complementing or contrasting flavors. Maybe a sweeter milk chocolate would match up a bit nicer with an baltic porter or imperial stout. You could pair a bitter dark chocolate with a nice dry stout or porter. But don’t think the beer has to be dark to match up with a chocolate.
A classic Belgian lager like Stella Artois will have enough bitterness to stand up to a nice bitter Belgium chocolate. It could also be a great contrasting companion for a fruit filled cordial.
That is the great thing about pairing beers and foods; you get to experiment with so many wonderful combinations. So next time you are at the checkout counter with a sick pack of a malty beer like Michelob Amber Bock pick up a Snickers bar.
Yes, I said a Snickers. Most package stores have a candy rack. The chocolate and caramel flavors in the candy bar play of the complimenting flavors in the Amber Bock perfectly. I guarantee within a week you will be at your local chocolatier with a list of beers you are looking to pair up with chocolates.
Photo by Kelly Shimoda. (Click for larger image)