Last night a friend and I experimented with beer and chocolate. I went to Soma Chocolates and picked up 6 truffles and brought over a few beers and we matched everything with each other.
The 3 things to look out for when you pair beer with anything. They are cut, complement and contrast. Cut is when the beer cuts through the rich flavors of the food and cleanses the palate. Complementing is when you match the flavors of the beer with the flavors of the food. Contrast is when the beer and food have two opposite flavour profiles and both of these items are enhanced in flavor.
Here are the winners:
Leffe Brune and 8 year aged balsamic vinegar in dark chocolate
The bitterness of the dark chocolate cut through the richness of the beer. When the sweet balsamic taste came through, it complemented the caramel sweetness in the beer.
Guinness and 100% dark chocolate
For this pairing I would say it was contrast. The bitter and harshness of the chocolate was enhanced and the roasty notes of the beer came through stronger. We also paired this chocolate with a Hockley Stout and the chocolate made the beer sour! The Hockley in comparison to the Guinness has slightly sweeter notes of vanilla and chocolate and the combination wasn’t good at all.
Schneider Weisse and white chocolate lemon truffle
I bought a single origin tanzania chocolate that was 75% cacoa that had notes of spice and banana flavors thinking that I would pair it with the Schneider Weisse that has banana and clove flavors. This pairing was horrible! The sweetness of the Schneider Weisse and the bitterness of the dark chocolate did not taste good. So I tried this beer with a lemon truffle and it was awesome! This was both a contrast and complement. The sweetness of the white chocolate complemented the sweetness of the beer. At the same time the lemon flavors brought out the banana flavors of the Schneider Weisse.
Garrison’s Hop Yard and chai spice milk chocolate
This pairing is completely complement and I loved it! The sweetness of the Hop Yard was complimented by the sweetness of the milk chocolate and the spicy notes of the beer complemented the chai spice. After further researching this should be of no surprise. One of the hops that is used in the Hop Yard is nugget hops which gives this beer a herbal, spicy character to it, the same flavors in the chai spice chocolate. One a side note – Just confirmed this week that the Garrison’s Hop Yard is from Nova Scotia and is now a permanent listing at the LCBO!
Hobgoblin and 70% dark chocolate – single origin Venezula
This chocolate had a slightly nutty flavor to it. The Hobgoblin has some sweet caramel tones to it as well as some grass and biscuit notes. When paired together this was a contrast pairing. The bitterness in the chocolate brought out the sweetness in the beer. The biscuit and bready notes in the Hobgoblin brought out the nut flavors (which were quite hidden) in the chocolate.
Lastly we brought out the Ski Queen cheese!
Hockley Stout and Ski Queen
The Ski Queen is a very rich sweet cheese that is normally used for desserts. We tried this with the Hockley Stout and it was a great pairing. The sweetness of the cheese brought out the vanilla and chocolate notes of the stout. The richness of the beer complemented the richness of the cheese. I would definitely try this one again.
Overall we had a great time tasting all the different combinations. The hardest chocolate to pair was the mint chocolate. It wouldn’t go with anything!
The key with tasting is not only knowing if you like it or not (that’s the easy part) it’s figuring out WHY you like it or don’t like it. Once you’ve done that it becomes easier to pair things together.