Beer & Chocolate Gaining Popularity as Warm Winter Combo

Beer & Chocolate Gaining Popularity as Warm Winter Combo

Ah, winter.

A perfect time to hibernate and enjoy some of life's finer things. What better to do on cold February nights than snuggle up to your sweetie? And what better way to seduce the object of your affection than with a dynamic duo... such as chocolate and beer.

You got it. Forget about the champagne. Tempt your love interest's taste buds in a different way, suggests Lisa Morrison of WBAL TV (Baltimore) Online. Crazy as it sounds at first, beer may serve as a better culinary compliment to chocolate than you think. Ray Daniels, Director of Craft Beer Marketing for the Brewers Association, certainly thinks so.

"Simply stated, wine generally gets overwhelmed by chocolate. You can't taste the wine due to the richness of the chocolate," Daniels said. "Beer has the chops to stand up to the rich flavors involved. It is also about complementary flavors: earthy, roasted, even chocolaty and bitter flavors in beer that are echoed in the chocolate."

Beer and chocolate have huge fan bases in America. That's nothing new. But, if people like Daniels and "Cocoa Pete" Slosberg -- the creator of Pete's Wicked Ale -- have their way, the two can be merged to ignite a kind of synergy that is rarely equalled.

"It's not just one plus one equals two. It's one plus one equals three," said Slosberg, who has been sweet on European chocolate ever since traveling there to promote his beer.

After selling the brewery that made him famous, Slosberg is now pairing his two passions by creating his own gourmet chocolate. He's not the only beer guy that has been won over. Fred Eckhardt of Portland, Oregon, has been conducting beer and chocolate tastings around this time of year for nearly two decades.

"In 1988, people were talking about a great new idea: wine and chocolate. But what about beer and chocolate? [I thought] it would be fun to play with chocolate and craft beer combinations, write about it -- and be able to take some chocolate expenses off my taxes," said Eckhardt, whose Portland gatherings have become a great "date events," with couples excitedly indulging in beer and chocolate pairings.

Oregon, anyone? Luckily, if you don't have the time or money for some tasty traveling this winter, you can just experiment a little at home. Daniels' recommended pairings identify three general categories of beers that play well with a range of chocolates:

  • Dark beers, such as porters and stouts, are made from malted barley that has been roasted to a dark, deep color. The darkened barley boosts the flavors that go well with most chocolates. Some beer aficionados even enjoy a dark, rich stout or porter as an after-dinner, desert-type treat.
  • Weizens (German-style wheat beers), and Belgian-style white ales (Höegaarden, Blue Moon). These are beers of lighter flavor and paler color than most all-barley ales, and often include fruity and spicy flavors such as clove, apple, nutmeg, cinnamon and apricot, among others. With these classic dessert flavors supplementing sumptuous chocolate, you and your sweetie will not be let down.
  • Malty golden beers and golden ales (such as Kölsch) are sweeter and lighter colored options that are clear and crisp with lower bitterness and aroma levels. These beers tend to go well with deserts in which chocolate is prevalent, but not quite as highly concentrated, such as chocolate cookies.

But, short of throwing a six-pack of Coors Light into the mix with chocolate candy and your romantic partner, it's hard to go wrong. This is a fun experiment for couples regardless of their particular culinary inclinations. If you're a beer lover, try to pick your favorite type(s) and decide what it is you like about them, then choose a desert that you think would accentuate the enjoyment. Try the reverse approach of you are a chocolate craver. There are so many types of each out there, it's hard to imagine you won't find a perfect pairing before long.

Or, failing that, just take Eckhardt's final, foolproof suggestion.

"M&M's go with any beer," he said.

Next Article:  Origins of Chocolate

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