Beer AND chocolate? Yes! In fact, beer and chocolate can create some amazing and unexpected combinations. Unlike wine, the carbonation in beer can cleanse and awaken the palate, preparing your tastebuds for a delicious combination. Also, beer and chocolate have a lot in common. They’re both fermented foods that undergo a lot of flavor development from the process of fermentation and share a delicate balance of bitter and sweet flavors. The most successful pairings will happen when the beer balances and showcases the flavors in the chocolate.
One of the most important things to remember when pairing beer and chocolate is that while sweet tends to go with sweet and bitter with bitter, your beer should always be somewhat less bitter than your chocolate. For example, stouts are generally easier to pair with semisweet and dark chocolates, whereas a beer that has tart or citrus notes, such as Belgian witbier, will pair better with darker chocolate instead of sweet, milk chocolate.
Don’t be scared to experiment. If you stick with the basic sweet-with-sweet and bitter-with-bitter rule, you’ll avoid much of the risk of a “bad” pairing.
Here are a couple tips for creating a successful chocolate/beer pairing:
- When serving multiple beers start with the lightest flavor and move to the darker flavors.
- Do not serve the chocolate or beer fresh from the fridge; let them come closer to room temperature to experience the full depth of flavor.
- Experiment with tasting the beer first then tasting the chocolate, then do the reverse. Due to the cleansing process of most beers you may be delightfully surprised at the flavor difference just by alternating the order in which you taste them.
Below are some typical pairings that are guaranteed to help get you started:
Oatmeal Stout and Milk Chocolate
Oatmeal Stouts are typically very dark in color with a roasted malt character. It’s smooth, not bitter, and absolutely delectable with finely crafted milk chocolate, which is perfect for dessert!
IPA and Dark Chocolate with Spice or Salt
Although there are quite a few styles, the earthy and hoppy flavors of many IPAs pair best with a darker chocolate that’s been spiced or salted to provide more depth on the tongue.
Pilsner and Semisweet Chocolate
Pilsners are easy to drink with a slightly sweet, malty and earthy character that complements semisweet chocolate that isn’t too dark.
Brown Ale and Dark Chocolate Covered Nuts
Not very hoppy in flavor, but with medium to high hop bitterness, brown ales typically feature roasted malt, caramel and chocolate-like notes, which are delicious with darker chocolates that include nuts, most notably almonds.
A final note…it can be fun to experiment with contrasting flavors that can be complimentary, too. But keep in mind, any pairing is subjective. So, if it tastes good to you, then enjoy!