Some food and drink marriages are innate to us; as the song goes sometimes you just can’t have one without the other. Think cheese and wine, bacon and eggs, and jelly and ice cream. Beer and chocolate on the other hand might not be the first thing to jump to mind. When you’re in country that is famed for both delicious commodities, it is to be expected.
We’re not talking about grabbing the nearest can of cold beer and a chocolate bar from the shelf of any old shop here, we’re talking serious foodies taking the time to taste and match the delicate and complimentary flavours of a deep Belgian ale with the aromatic goodness of the world’s best chocolate.
While we see many faddy food pairings popping up all the time, it’s often a vain attempt to make something cool, we can be sure that both beer and chocolate have been in side-by-side production for hundreds of years. Archaeologists have uncovered prehistoric scraping pots which point to the production of both the world’s favourite drink, and the world’s favourite aphrodisiac. Three thousand year old artefacts found in Honduras suggest that chocolate only came about as a by-product of brewing beer though the original chocolate fountain bore little resemblance to the smooth, creamy truffles and pralines you’ll find in Belgian chocolate shops today.
If you still need some convincing, here are some fail safe chocolate/beer matched to get you on your way.
Dark chocolate cake with stout – Imagine the heavy, rich flavours of a stout epitomised in cake-form. The closet you’ll get is a gooey, melt-in-the-middle, flourless chocolate cake. Now think about how the two will complement each other. The sweetness of the cake lifts the bitter tones of the beer and also brings out the creaminess of a cold stout which can sometimes hide under its heaviness.. You’ve just learnt the first rule of the b/c match.
Bittermint chocolate with icy blonde – A light, sweet beer like a Leffe Blonde is the perfect beer for pairing with a sharp flavour like dark, bittermint chocolate. The freshness of the drink allows for some movement with the menthol flavours, without ruining either the beer or the chocolate. The spicy, cooler notes hiding in the beer are brought out by the refreshing buzz of mint, while warmer notes get a pull from the chocolate.
Creamy Truffles and Raspberry Beer – Think about raspberry coulis and how well it works on a really sweet dessert; that’s pretty much the effect you’ll get when pairing an acidic, fruity beer like Fruli with a sweet, milky truffle. Though fruity beers are often highly carbonated, it actually works in favour as each gulp helps to clear away any fatty residue left by the chocolate.
White Chocolate and Pale Ale – A light, or wheat beer works well with white chocolate but the two can be overly sweet and cloying together. Instead, try good Indian pale ale (IPA) to get both a smooth drink, and enough bitterness to balance out the high sugar content of white chocolate.
Author: Colin Ricketts
Bio: Colin is a freelance writer and editor based in Cardiff, Wales. He has been published both nationally and internationally on a variety of topics from food and beer to ecology and music. This post has been produced on behalf of beertourism.com.