A lesson in matchmaking — because some of these flavours are meant to be together
Whether or not you’re acquainted with the science behind it, you’ll be familiar with the concept of pairing wines and food together. Matching beer with food — and specifically, beer and chocolate — is a lesser-known trick.
You may be unsure initially, but trust us, the properties of the two can lend themselves to each other quite nicely, producing some beautiful combinations — as unexpected as they may be.
Harness the transformative powers of beer and chocolate, and you’re in for a treat.
Pairing beer and chocolate: what to consider
First, let’s cover the basics. You should believe in your pairings and why the two make such a great match.
Beer and chocolate actually have a lot in common. For one, they’re both given their balance of sweet and bitter flavours through the process of fermentation. They’re also, much of the time, what can be considered as artisan products, due to the craftsmanship the production process requires. Pairing premium beers with premium chocolates, you’ll realise the full potential in the art of combinations.
As for getting the best from your pairings, we have some general tips.
Pay attention to flavour notes
Match the flavour profiles of the beer and chocolate as much as you can. That means sweet with sweet, and tart with tart. Unless you’re working with bitter flavours. They have a tendency to overwhelm, so find a counterpart that will balance it out instead.
Enjoy your beer and chocolate at room temperature
Take the beers out of the fridge around 30 minutes before your tasting. Cooler temperatures can enhance bitterness and dryness, as well as chilling your tastebuds. Closer to room temperature is best for experiencing the true depth of flavour. The same goes for the chocolate.
Plan your tasting order
If you’re doing multiple pairings, move from the lightest to the darkest beers. Darker, fuller beers are more intense in flavour, so while you can cleanse the palette with a glass of water between beers, it still makes sense to proceed in this order.
Within each pairing, sample the beer then the chocolate, and then do the reverse. As the beer enhances the flavours of the chocolate, its carbonation also cleanses the palette, meaning the order in which you try them will affect the result.
Our favourite beer and chocolate combinations
While we encourage you to experiment with your own combinations, a few guidelines should prove useful and give you a little inspiration to get started.
Dark ales and dark chocolate-covered nuts
Dark ales tend to have medium bitterness while lacking in sweetness. Their distinct taste comes from their malty note. And this is something our Great Taste Award-winning Cocoa Beer has in abundance. Made with the shells of the cacao bean, it has subtle undertones of bitter cacao, meaning it’s a dream for pairings.
For us, the perfect match is these Dark Chocolate Salted Caramelised Almonds. From the natural sweetness of the almond to their crispy, caramelised shell, and finally, the lashing of medium-bodied dark chocolate that encases them, they really pack a punch with each bite. Within, there are bitter flavours that nicely complement a dark ale, but also enough sweetness to marry the flavours harmoniously.
Stout and berry-flavoured dark chocolate
Stouts tend to be strong and hoppy, with roasted, malty notes. These flavour elements make it comparable to coffee or dark chocolate, while tasting slightly tart. This bold beer calls for a powerful pairing flavour.
Enter, our Blackcurrant Selector. The fruit berry burst in each bombe will beautifully amplify the stout’s flavours, while the 70% dark chocolate works its own magic. Daring to visit the dark side, you shouldn’t do things by halves.
IPA and fruity chocolate
While maintaining some sweetness, IPAs like our Cocoa Blonde are classed as bitter ales – and remember what we said about those tricky bitters. You’ll want to create balance.
You can’t go wrong with a medium-bodied dark chocolate variety, such as our 70% Dark Chocolate Slab Selector. Its mellow notes will maintain enough similarities with the IPAs bitterness to work nicely, without overpowering as dark chocolates with higher cacao percentages might.
You could also pair the fruit notes in the IPA with fruit in the chocolate. A solid accompaniment to the tropical accents of Cocoa Blonde, for example, would be our Chocolate Coconut Truffles Selector. With just a sip and a bite, you’ll be transported to an island paradise.
Pilsner and nutty chocolate
With a lighter beer, you’ll want a semi-sweet chocolate. So now’s the time for your milk chocolates to come into play. To stick to reliable flavours while adding a twist of sophistication to the occasion, we’d recommend our Mousse au Chocolat selector.
Or you can opt to bring more flavours into the fold. Pilsner’s malty nature means it’ll also pair well with nuts, but you’ll still want to retain the milk chocolate. Depending on your texture preferences, our Praline Chocolate Selectors and Chocolate Macadamia Nut Selectors are two fantastic options.
White ales and orange chocolate
Be warned, due to the high acidity of white beers, they don’t tend to pair well with chocolate. That is, unless they aren’t overly acidic — in which case, their crisp, refreshing properties can be harnessed for good.
Try experimenting with white ales and chocolate with orange citrus notes. White beers usually have hints of citrus themselves, so this can work quite well. If any chocolate can do the trick, it’ll be our Chocolate Orange Tangs. These zesty bites are made with pure orange juice, so you can expect a citrussy sensation.
Cocoa Beer and Cocoa Blonde: a chocolatier’s take on beer
By now, you’ll likely have a few of your favourite beers and chocolates in mind as you embark on this journey of discovery. At Hotel Chocolat, we’re already a little further down the line in marrying beers with chocolate. So even without accompaniments, you can enjoy the best of both flavours wrapped into one.
Those with beer-loving and cacao-appreciating tendencies will love Cocoa Blonde and Cocoa Beer. Incorporate them into your tasting session to see how the flavours can play together in one satisfying mouthful.
Luxury chocolate from Hotel Chocolat
With both beers and chocolate, it pays off to choose premium, artisanal products that showcase the difference true craftsmanship makes.
At Hotel Chocolat, we proudly stand at the forefront of innovation in chocolate. From our ethical cacao farms in the Caribbean right through to the boundary-defying ideas and technologies in our factories, we never settle for anything less than the absolute finest flavours. What you do with them, that’s down to you.