Beer Break

Beer Break Vol. 3, No. 17
Beer and chocolate

Feb. 6, 2003

There must be something to this talk of beer and romance, because it seems we are hearing plenty of it as Valentine's Day approaches.


At, Lucy Saunders quotes Rogue Ales Public House manager Russ Menegat: "Chocolate releases the same dopamine chemicals in the brain as romantic love does, and beer tends to reduce social inhibitions. If that doesn't sound like the makings of an interesting evening, I don't know what does..."

Saunders writes that you can't grab just any beer, that you should match the flavors of roasted cocoa beans and roasted barley malts. Her story begins, "If the Belgian monks who brew beer call it 'liquid bread,' then for Valentine's Day, think of it as 'liquid cake.'"

She backs that up with some great-looking recipes, such as Deschutes Chocolate Stout Bread Pudding. Check them out.

Stephen Beaumont also favors beer and chocolate cake, writing:

"Chocolate cakes also afford a great opportunity to pull out a few bottles of beer. For a dense, flourless chocolate cake, try a strong, abbey-style or Trappist ale like Rochefort 8 or Ommegang Ale; vintage bottles of Samichlaus pair marvellously with rich, dark chocolate mousse; and a simpler chocolate pudding or lighter, airier chocolate cake will be nicely complemented by a bottle of two of a sweet, lightly spicy ale such as Gouden Carolus or La Choulette Ambrée."

The Association of Brewers chimes in with a press release quoting Tom Nickel, head brewer for Oggie's Pizza and Brewing Co. and co-owner of O'Brien's Pub in San Diego.

"It is no surprise that beer is often a better accompaniment with food than wine. There is almost nowhere that this is more evident than with chocolate," he said. "A rich dark stout [beer] will stand up to the most intense dark chocolate. A tangy raspberry ale or lambic, like the popular New Glarus Brewing Co. Wisconsin Belgian Red pairs perfectly with semi-sweet chocolate.

"When pairing food and beverages you want to consider three points - does the beverage cleanse, complement or contrast the food. A light brown ale can clean a sweet milk chocolate aftertaste from your tongue. The long coffee finish of an imperial stout complements more bitter chocolates and rich desserts like flourless chocolate cake. Fruit beers provide an amazing contrast to dark and semi-sweet chocolates that reminds one of dipping fresh strawberries in melted chocolate. The possibilities for good beer and dessert pairings are endless."

Tasting notes
From the Celebrator Beer News Blind Tasting Panel

Brewed by Stoudt's Brewing in Pennsylvania
Light nose with hints of sweet fruit. Alcohol apparent with big lactic flavors, a sweet and sour character and a tart finish. A wow!

Brewed by Unibroue in Canada
Maybe being damned isn't so bad after all. Unibroue's Maudite begins with a complex nose of herbal, spicy notes and hints of fruit. A big, creamy bottle-conditioned beer with dry, malty falvors and a slight sweetness. A beer whose complexity only increases as it warms.