How to pair chocolate with beer
They say chocolate is like a fine wine. They're both delicious with subtle flavors and aromas that make enjoying them a multisensory journey.
You know what else is good? Beer.
Now, you may not believe it, but beer and chocolate pair together for an amazing combination. If you've never thought about pairing beer and chocolate or you want to know more about it, here are some tips for you.
The basics of pairing
Whether you're talking wine and cheese or beer and chocolate, the key concern is to find two great tastes that taste great together. That may sound easier with wine, but that's because so much more has been written about wine. Truth be told, many times wine's flavor includes more varied elements (floral notes, wood notes, fruit notes, etc.), making it more difficult to pair. Beer tends to feature a smaller number of stronger flavors.
This is good and bad. The smaller number of flavors means you have fewer tastes to worry about, but because beer can have more dominate notes, it narrows possibilities for pairing. Still, here are some examples.
Pair inexpensive with inexpensive
It's difficult to pair chocolate with a lot of mass-produced beers. Most American beer has a high sodium content and a diffuse flavor that doesn't always play well with others. When pairing with American beer, go with inexpensive chocolates. The saltiness of the beer may actually cut the richness of the chocolate a bit.
Pairing with stouts
Stout beers are the easiest beers to pair with chocolate, especially because so many stout beers have chocolate or espresso notes in their flavor. When pairing with a stout beer, look for chocolates with a higher percentage of cacao, which in turn will make them darker and more bitter. The bitter of the chocolate should actually help to bring out the beer's inherent sugars.
Pairing with bitter ales
Bitter ales include brews like IPAs, which have very bitter notes. It might make sense to mix bitter beer with bitter chocolate, but in practice, this can be overwhelming. Instead, you want to choose a 50 to 70 percent cacao chocolate to go with the bitter ales. There will be more sweetness in the chocolate, which will, in turn, offset the beer's natural bitterness. However, the high cacao content will allow the chocolate to stand up to the beer's flavor.
Pairing with lagers
Pairing with lagers, including pilsners and bocks, is oftentimes a matter of personal taste or finding specific notes in one specific beer. This means, sadly, you're going to have to drink more beer to find the perfect pairing. (It's a rough job, but someone has to do it, right!) Some people are going to want a darker chocolate to go with their lager, while others want something sweeter. For the most part, about 50 percent cacao chocolates are going to be the favorite.
This is also true of wheat beers.
Pairing with white ales
White ale, also called unfiltered wheat, are light, crispy and refreshing. They also tend to have citrus undertones and an acid finish. When pairing chocolate with white ale, try to avoid highly acidic beer since acid and chocolate aren't good friends. If you can find a less sharp beer, look for chocolate with citrus notes or that has been blended with orange peel as your best bet.
Now, armed with this knowledge, it's time for you to get out there and eat and drink. Only with practice and research will you become a beer and chocolate pairing expert.
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