Wednesday 8 April 2009

FAB POW! Beers with Chocolates

As it’s Easter this weekend it only seemed right to do a beer and chocolate pairing for this edition of the Food and Beer Pairing of the Week (FAB POW!). I thought about the individual pairings and the different chocolates but then I decided something: I will go nuts and throw out a whole load of beautiful pairings for a variety of different chocolates. That’s how I roll people.

Dark Chocolate calls out for something fairly sweet to pick up its natural bitter-sweetness. Dark chocolate brings out the roasted notes in the beer and the beer will bring out the sweetness in the chocolate – it’s a matter of balance and re-balance. You want something quite strong though to hold its own. The BrewDog Paradox’s are all great here as the dark malts in the beer just grip onto the chocolate. Thick and unctuous Barley Wines can do well here too with the dried fruit sweetness and the bitter chocolate getting it on. The other awesome option (and one of the best ways to introduce anyone to beer and food) is a cherry beer, something sweet and sharp to cut the richness of the chocolate. Any cherry beer you like, it just does the job, although my favourites are the cherry lambics.

Milk Chocolate is best with the big, black roasty beers. Strong coffee stout is excellent, enhancing the coffee notes and adding richness to the chocolate, plus the inherent ‘burnt’ and earthy flavours are just wickedly good with the milk chocolate. Mikkeller is a winner or BrewDog’s Coffee Imperial is excellent (while we’re here, coffee stouts are blinding with bananas and I’ve paired them with stellar success to gooey chocolate puddings! That’s the picture, by the way). Alternatively, ‘lighter’ imperial stouts do a fine job, try Sam Smith’s or Thornbridge St Petersburg. Or, Sam Smith’s Oatmeal Stout or Stone’s Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout make great matches, pairing up the creaminess in the beer and the chocolate. And one of my favourite recent matches is Harviestoun’s Old Engine Oil with milk chocolate covered raisins.

White Chocolate is harder as it’s so creamy and sweet but something like Thornbridge Bracia is stunning, in fact Bracia, because it has an amazing richness which turns near-savoury, works with any chocolate you can throw at it. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is another anything-goes, chocolate-loving beer and the thick body works with white chocolate really well (it shares that similar savoury note to the Bracia which makes it sing with the sweetness – that’s why you add salt to most chocolate recipes, it loves the sweet-savoury balance!). Goose Island Bourbon County Stout is another monster pairing, picking out all the glorious nutty-berry-sweetness in the beer.

I’ve been trying out chocolate and IPA pairings but haven’t had any excellent ones yet, I figure there must be some out there, probably a stronger beer with juicy, orangy hops? And ideas?

Do you like beer and chocolate together? Or do you love it? What good matches have you had?


  1. I love chocolate with beer, although I don't combined the two very often. An IPA with any kind of nice chocolate is lovely. The bitterness with an IPA really works with chocolate.

  2. I don't have it that often either, but I did have success with chocolate brownies and Leed's Midnight Bell - a strong dark mild - check it out @
    My own perennial favourite, however, is dark chocolate toblerone with Schnieder Aventinus. try it out - lovely. Might revisit it now, actually.

  3. Wurst, I'm thinking some kind of caramel and chocolate covered biscuit might go nicely with a big IPA, I need to get experimenting.

    Leigh, great recipe, I do love a chocolate brownie, gonna try one with beer in it soon. And Toblerone is now on my shopping list, I got the beer in the cupboard and it sounds like a winning team! Toblerone is another one to put with Bracia!

  4. Chocolate Brownies with a mild sounds fab. Matter of fact, I'm going to bake some this weekend. My Dark Mild will be on the engine Saturday.

  5. Tonight I'm going to try the Bracia and chocolate pairing. Without the chocolate. And more Bracia.

  6. Toblerone and St Peter's Honey Porter is an ace combo!