Beer and Chocolate Pairings
So how do chocolate and beer work together? Quite well, because they're both fermented foods which undergo an amazing transformation of flavors during the fermentation process. To coax a particular flavor profile from raw materials requires patience, curiosity, and craftsmanship — whether you're brewing beer or making chocolate. And when it comes to pairing, a spirit of curiosity and experimentation will lead you to delicious new discoveries:
- To begin a chocolate and beer pairing, we recommend that you serve beer starting from light to dark. Avoid serving refrigerator-cold beer.
- Beer and chocolate are both a delicate balance of sweet and bitter flavors. You’ll find a “wow” moment when the flavors in the beer balance and showcase the flavors in the chocolate.
- Consider both contrasting and complementary flavors: a stout, typically a bitter profile with chocolate notes, pairs well with both a fruity chocolate (sweet/contrasting) as well as a coffee-flavored chocolate (bitter/complementary).
- Taste the beer, then the chocolate; now reverse and try the chocolate first. Because of the cleansing properties in most beers, you might be surprised at the difference you taste.
Our Favorite Pairings
Five years ago, the Vermont Brewer’s Festival asked us to lead a chocolate and beer pairing workshop — and the adventure began. It continues today, as we've developed friendships with many local craft brewers. And it's these relationships that make pairing beer with chocolate so rewarding for us. As we learn about the craft of brewing beer, we teach brewers the art of making fine chocolate, and everyone benefits from new insights.
Here are some of our favorite pairings from previous years' brew festivals:
- Switchback Roasted Red Ale & Dark Chocolate Honey Caramel
A delicious red ale that leads with a rich malty sweetness balanced with a bold hop signature, followed by a luscious chocolate/cocoa roasty finish. Paired with a 54% dark chocolate caramel infused with locally harvested honey.
- Zero Gravity Black Cat Porter & Organic Cherries & Chocolate Bar (at right)
A robust dark ale with flavors of coffee and chocolate and plenty of hop for balance. Paired with a 72% cocoa content dark chocolate bar studded with dried cherries from Northern Michigan and a hint of Madagascar vanilla.
- Wolaver’s Organic Oatmeal Stout & Organic Milk Chocolate Granola Bar
Super creamy stout brewed with organic rolled oats and organic wheat, with hints of coffee and chocolate and roasted. Paired with a 43% milk chocolate bar featuring toasted oats and roasted almonds.
- Harpoon Leviathan IPA & Dark Chocolate Covered Orange Peel
Big beer with powerful hop bitterness up front, and just enough caramel malt to provide a balance to the hop intensity. Paired with a candied orange peel drenched in 54% dark chocolate.
- Wolaver’s Organic Brown Ale & Organic Dark Chocolate Spicy Aztec Bar
Slightly malty and well balanced beer with hints of cherry and black currant. Paired with a 57% cocoa content dark chocolate studded with pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, and a spicy cayenne finish.
- American Flatbread Zero Gravity Extra Stout & Organic Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Bar
Classic stout paired with a 57% dark chocolate bar filled with salted caramel.
- Switchback Dooley’s Belated Porter & 54% Dark Chocolate
Porter paired with sweet dark chocolate featuring notes of brown fruit, vanilla, and warm spice.