While people have long paired wine with chocolate, here’s some great news for the all the chocolate-loving beer drinkers in our midst: Chocolate and beer are a match made in heaven.
There’s no need to enjoy these indulgences separately when they work so well together. But there is an art to pairing them correctly. If you’re new to the concept of pairing beer with chocolate, let this serve as your beginner’s guide to enjoying this delectable combination.
This probably won’t come as a surprise, but as a general rule: The higher the quality of your beer and chocolate, the higher the quality of your beer and chocolate pairing. If you’re attempting to enjoy a truly sumptuous experience, go all out with artisan beers such as Sierra Nevada, The Bruery, and Fieldwork Brewing Co. and chocolate. (May we suggest TCHO?)
For the most part, dark chocolate is your best bet.
The deep flavors in dark chocolate are more likely to stand up to the intense flavors of beer, while milk chocolate and white chocolate are likely to be overpowered. However, for pilsners and pale ales, the opposite is also true. Lighter-bodied hoppy beers can be a great match for milk chocolates. The opposite is also true: For the most part, lighter-bodied beers (such as pilsners and pale ales) aren’t an adequate match for the intense flavors of dark chocolate.
Pair like with like.
A simple way to ensure a delectable pairing is to pair similar flavors within the chocolate and beer. For example, rich, dark chocolate pairs well with rich, dark stouts (hence why so many stouts include chocolate). Citrusy chocolates can complement citrus-infused beers, and chocolate containing raspberries can perfectly complement a raspberry porter. In general, porters, stouts, barley wines, sours, and barrel-aged beers are all viable pairings with dark chocolate but we don’t want to steer you away from indulging in these beers with milk chocolate too.
One exception to this rule: If you’re drinking an exceptionally bitter beer, you probably want to stay clear of extra-dark chocolate. In this case, the pairing could lead to an excess of bitterness.
Experiment with contrasting flavors.
While pairing similar flavors is a simple way to find a good chocolate-beer combination, it’s also true that opposites can (sometimes) attract. Just as rich, dark chocolate can pair well with light, fruity notes (as in our Triple Berry bar), so too can sweet beers pair well with bitter dark chocolate and citrusy chocolates pair with earthy wheat beers. The discovery is the best part of pairing.
While a bottle of beer and a bar of chocolate can make for a delicious pairing, that’s not the only way to enjoy beer and chocolate together. You could also consider incorporating both ingredients into a variety of baked goods such as cakes, truffles, brownies, crème brulee, and other pastries.
When you’re first learning how to pair beer and chocolate, the most important thing is to have fun with it. So embrace the process of experimenting—because no matter what, you’re getting to drink good beer and eat delectable chocolate. And that’s something to smile about.