BEER and chocolate. You may not think that these two go well together. Well, during the Beer + Chocolate Pairing Experience at Ales & Lagers last weekend, the 20 participants learnt not only about chocolates and craft beer, but also how they can complement each other when served together.
Conducted by Chocolatier Ning from Chocolate Concierge and Meng-Chao from Brewers’ Craft and Smith Street Taps, it was an event that promised something that is completely different from usual food and drink pairings.
Menu (5 chocolate pieces as pic from left to right)
1. Malted Hot Chocolate Espuma blended with a Deschutes Black Butte Porter
2. Ghana Origin Meltaway + Deschutes Red Chair Pale Ale
3. Orange Zest Meltaway, paired with a Lervig Americano A Roma IPA
4. Milk Chocolate Almond Rocher + Rogue Hazelnut Brown Porter
5. Salted Caramel Slices + Stone Coffee Milk Stout
6. Mango Django chocolate piece
For RM50 you got to pair 4 craft beers with 5 single-origin freshly made artisanal chocolates.
Ning started off the event by explaining what he does, and what single origin chocolates are, before bringing out the ‘starter’ of the afternoon – a Malted Hot Chocolate Espuma (Venezuelan Bran Origin), blended with a Deschutes Black Butte Porter, which was selected by Meng-Chao for its chocolate, roast, and creamy profile. It was a combination that worked brilliantly – the maltiness and hops of the beer melded together with the chocolate for a wonderfully creamy, mocha drink.
By the time the ‘main course’ of five chocolates were put in front of us, we were already ready for more chocolate and beer goodness. This time, however, we had to take a bite of the chocolate first, before taking a sip of the beer.
We started with the Ghana Origin Meltaway, paired with a Deschutes Red Chair Pale Ale. The beer is a nice, medium bodied pale ale, with a distinct hoppiness at the entry and a slight earthiness on the palate. Paired with the Ghana Origin Meltaway, the chocolate sweetness seemed to accentuate the bitterness of the hops at first, but give it time, and the flavours actually do meld together pretty well, with the creamy goodness of the chocolate helping to balance out the hops and malt of the beer.
Next, was the Orange Zest Meltaway, paired with a Lervig Americano A Roma IPA. This was a pairing that was worked surprisingly well. Being an IPA, the beer has a very pronounced hoppiness but it is nicely balanced out by a nice citrusy tang and a slightly sweet, zesty finish. Having it with the chocolate though, the citrus notes of both items immediately came to the fore. Unlike the first pairing, where the chocolate brought out the hoppiness a little too much, the addition of the orange zest gave this IPA a better balance in terms of sweetness and hoppiness.
The third beer was a personal favourite. When I initially heard about the chocolate and beer pairing event, the first beer I thought of was this – the Rogue Hazelnut Brown Porter. This is a beer that smells beautifully of hazelnut and malt on the nose, with the pleasant nuttiness continuing on to the medium to full bodied beer itself. Like one participant mentioned, it was like Nutella beer.
However, the pairing with the Milk Chocolate Almond Rocher, was a little underwhelming. Just because they both contain nuts does not mean they would go well together. It wasn’t a BAD pairing – the beer actually works really well with the chocolate, but the hazelnut in the beer and the almonds in the chocolate somehow cancelled each other out for a more, well, general nuttiness than you would expect. Maybe it would have gone better with a pure chocolate piece, like the first one.
The final pairing was the Stone Coffee Milk Stout – a good, full bodied stout with rich mocha, espresso, malty goodness – and Salted Caramel Slices. While the chocolate did well with the beer, the sweetness of the salted caramel slice stood out a little too much. It was nice to have the beer enveloping that chunk of candy goodness in your mouth, but it also melted away the chocolates and left one sweet chunk of caramel in your mouth. There is no doubt the beer goes well with chocolate though, and again, it would have been nice to just have it with just pure chocolate.
The line-up ended with the final Mango Django chocolate piece, which was not paired with any particular beer (but went amazingly well with the Stone Coffee Milk Stout). All in all, an excellent event, and a good effort at something different.