How to Pair Chocolate and Beer

What to look for when pairing your favorite sweet treat with your favorite craft beer

Should we be at all surprised that craft beer can go with, well, anything? It's the perfect companion to your cheese, so it would only make sense to pair it with chocolate as well. While most may reach for a bottle of wine to go with that chocolate (leftover from Valentine's Day, assuming that you have any), it's as easy as pie to grab a beer instead. 

Samuel Adams brewers and TCHO chocolate makers have their own collaboration of beers and chocolates (remember that awesome chocolate/beer kit for Christmas?), so they explain in a new video what flavors and profiles to look for when pairing. Said Samuel Adams brewer Jennifer Ganville, wine's high alcohol content can actually overpower some of the flavors you get from chocolate. That's why something like a beer, balanced between malt and hop characters, may be a surprisingly better pairing for your chocolate. Plus, as chocolate maker Brad Kintzer explains, chocolate is actually a fermented fruit — from cocoa beans to the chocolate bar you're holding — with similar acids and esters that you find in a beer. 

Some other tips for you this Valentine's Day:

  • Try a couple of tastings, says Ganville, and leave some of the chocolate in your mouth when you take a sip of beer. The carbonation at first will cleanse your palate, and then the flavors of the chocolate will mix in with the hops of the beer. 
  • Dark chocolate is the easiest to pair, explains the blog The Girl's Guide to Beer, thanks to its bitterness. The easiest pairings for dark chocolate: stouts, lambics, pilsners, or barley wine.
  • Stouts may be the easiest companion to chocolate, thank to their notes of chocolate and espresso. She Knows explains that a darker chocolate will bring out the inherent sugars of a stout. 
  • Don't even think about putting that super bitter IPA with a dark chocolate — milk chocolate is the only way to go. A sweeter chocolate will not just balance a bitter beer, but also stand up to the big, bold flavor of an IPA. 

Check out the Samuel Adams' beer and chocolate video for more on pairing. 

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