Red wine & craft chocolate seem like an obvious match. But what about craft beer & craft chocolate? I hear some of you saying “ehhh” while delicately scrunching your face at the screen.
But actually, craft beer and craft chocolate are two things which have a lot in common, and are truly an absolutely under-rated pairing!
Pairing Craft Beer & Craft Chocolate
Bavaria is the beer capital of Germany. While some may dispute this, we are lucky to be near a generous amount of breweries. But - as is the case with chocolate - not all beer (or chocolate) was created equally. So let me re-phrase. We are lucky to be near a generous amount of gorgeous craft breweries. A movement which has gained traction here in recent years. And we have the Truly craft chocolate to experiment with!
Think about it: for starters, both are fermented.
Many of our most loved foods are fermented: wine, coffee, yogurt, cheese, beer, chocolate, and bread! All of these happen to pair together in some way shape or form. And fermentation is quite simply: magic.
Both are ancient! chocolate as well as beer really truly "go way back". Their histories deserve an entire separate blog post. Or two.
Both Craft chocolate and beer differentiate themselves from their industrial or commercial counterparts in that they are made with much attention to detail - not just the actual production but the sourcing of ingredients. This is crucial. There are countless kinds of hops, yeasts and malts which make craft beer what it is! just as there are countless kinds of cacao beans, genetics and terroir playing a huge role! the possibilities are absolutely endless, and craft makers are devoted to exploring the huge world of flavor options. Commercial makers pride themselves on consistency.
And last but not least, both can be properly tasted, tested, enjoyed and paired (with other fermented foods in particular!) In both cases you can sit and philosophize about (1) Appearance (2) Aroma (3) Flavor and Mouthfeel.
There's a reason why there are professional beer and chocolate sommeliers in this world - both products have a lot to offer in terms of flavor!
Craft beer can be fruity, floral, vegetal, spicy or nutty – just like craft chocolate too.
Both dance the tango with bitter and sweet notes.
Craft chocolate (particularly when dark) has a beautiful richness to it – the natural fattiness of the cacao butter coats your palate just enough to really compliment the lively carbonation and freshness of a sip of craft beer. There is quite honestly, endless possibility pairing these two!
Of course, some pairings will not work at all, but others will be quite surprising – and some will be like love at first sight: you’ll just know!
Of course, while pairing the two, you want to keep in mind that craft chocolate was made for savoring and not devouring. A little bite goes a long way! You don’t necessarily want to enjoy the entire bar with just one craft beer. Less is really more.
In some of the pairings we have personally tried, we found that the chocolate brought out other qualities in the beer – some good some not so good (such as tannins) (depends on how much you like them) – and Vice Versa!
What makes our chocolate special is that we focus on single origin beans. We do not add inclusions to our bars, we want the bean to do the talking. So when you are getting nice red fruity notes after a bite of our 70% Maya Mountain, that is the natural BEAN and not any added "red fruit" aromas! Pairing beer with pralines seems increasingly popular, but of course the flavors you are getting from the chocolate praline are coming from the ganache filling. It's been really satisfying pairing single origin craft chocolate, specifically - with craft beer - for this very reason!
One of our favorites at the moment is the Private Idaho NEIPA from Higgins Ale paired with our 70% single origin bar from the Sambriano Valley in Madagascar. Higgins also brews a Black IPA – one with a cold brew coffee infusion and one without. We found that our 70% Maya Moutain from Belize (which just won an award at the 2020 International Chocolate Awards and another at the 2021 Academy of Chocolate by the way!) paired really well with the Black IPA but not the Black IPA coffee infusion (that one paired best with the 83% Chuno bar we had until November of 2021).
As with any food experience, finding a truly enjoyable craft beer & craft chocolate pairing is entirely subjective. Luckily, tastes differ. Flavor is so personal. The “wow” moment will be when the flavors and the mouth feel balance perfectly and complement each other. There are no right or wrong pairings – only wrong ingredients 😊 so start with the best craft beers & craft chocolates and… simply experiment!
Interested in pairing? Here are some tips
- Flavor actually begins in the nose, so take time to smell both the beer and the chocolate before tasting either of them. Make a note about the flavors which come to mind and see if you also taste them later or not
- Experiment with both contrasting and complimentary flavors. A bitter beer wont always pair best with a bitter chocolate. Try pairing a bitter beer with a fruity chocolate or vice versa.
- Experiment with tasting the beer first and then the chocolate first. Sometimes the flavors which dominate are quite surprising depending on what order you taste in!
- Also a good motto for daily life: take your time! take it easy! enjoy that little bite of chocolate and allow it to properly "evolve" before sipping on the cold beer. There's no rush!
- Make sure your beer is the right temperature and not too cold. Cold affects flavor (usually not for the better). The same goes for chocolate which should always be kept in a cool dry place and served at room temperature.
If you are based in Munich, AMBAR BISTRO in Giesing offers a great selection of Craft Beers & has also started selling our Chocolate. This is a nice one stop shop and the very welcoming owner Gianluca is a beer sommelier, so he is definitely the best person to make a good recommendation! Also, Higgins Ale which I mentioned before is currently offering Friday Pick Ups for their beers! Stop by and have a chat! #supportyourlocals
If you have made it this far, and are convinced about pairing craft chocolate with craft beer, but want more information a very trusted source, I can recommend checking out David Nilsen's website, Instagram and podcasts, which have been the source of much inspiration for us!
We would be thrilled if you used the comments section to share any pairings that you have enjoyed!
Bubbles Against Troubles. Images Copyright Truly Craft Chocolate 2020