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 and tasting, 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
Several 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, including Zero Gravity, Switchback, and Harpoon. 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 most recent pairings as well as some favorites from previous years' brew festivals:
Zero Gravity Bob White & It's Hot Honey Chocolate Bar
The Belgian White style ale has spicy citrus notes that complement the citrus in the Hot Honey Caramel filled bar. It is at the point of finding this common ground that both the beer and chocolate veer into their own realms. The Belgian style yeast adds an almost umami (savory taste) like flavor, while the habanero in the caramel runs a bit wild.
Zero Gravity Strawberry Moon Sour & Almond Five Star Bar®
It will take just a second for your brain to call up the memories with this nostalgic pairing. It is reminiscent of a sandwich eaten as a child. Not a baloney sandwich. Not a grilled cheese sandwich. There is something very familiar about the sour berry flavor with a chunky/smooth nutty flavor. Is it perhaps a peaunut butter and jelly sandwich?
Zero Gravity Bernie Weisse & Dark Chocolate & Raspberries Bar
As Paul Saylor (founder of Zero Gravity) would tell you, the Berliner Weisse style beer is often highlighted with the addition of raspberry syrup. The tart pieces of raspberry in the dark chocolate bar do a little polka with the zesty notes in the beer. And together their combined zing bounces off the brownie-like chocolate liquor notes.
Zero Gravity Madonna IPA & Hazelnut Five Star Bar®
This pairing surprised us a bit. The first sensation is the satisfying crunchiness of the bar, followed by the assertive notes of the Madonna. The full, slightly sweet, floral tones ride hoppily on top of the flavor wave, but then suddenly the rich hazelnut butteriness jumps up and pronounces itself. From there, the beer and chocolate flavors are totally tongue tied.
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. Pair it with 54% dark chocolate filled with creamy caramel infused with locally harvested honey and you have yourself a winning combination of flavors that will surely excite your taste buds.
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 something rich and citrusy —like a candied orange peel drenched in 54% dark chocolate— gives you bold flavors with a refreshing finish .
Zero Gravity Extra Stout & Organic Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Bar
With the aromas of chocolate and coffee combined with rich, roasted barley flavors, this classic stout pairs nicely with a 57% dark chocolate bar filled with a creamy salted caramel. This tasting experience is one you'll definitely rave about!
Switchback Dooley’s Belated Porter & 57% Dark Chocolate
The Porter features a blend of roasted and caramelized malts with Simco hops, giving it robust flavor with a smooth finish. Pair it with sweet dark chocolate featuring notes of brown fruit, vanilla, and warm spice for a combination that will warm the soul.