I've written about food beer pairings before during my Rogue x Block 34 beer dinner. That was my first foray into this world of culinary tastings. At the dinner, I had a Chocolate Bacon Bread Pudding with Double Chocolate Stout Ice Cream paired with Rogue's Double Chocolate Stout that seriously blew my mind. Since then, I've had not one, but two chocolate tours and eaten more than my puppy's weight, so I now consider myself a certified chocolate enthusiast.
Best of all? Those lessons still apply when it comes to pairing chocolate as well. Although not always sweet, chocolate can exhibit bitterness, nuttiness, other ascents of flavors and much more.
There's a ton of interesting pairings guides out there from Brooklyn BrewShop to Beer Advocate postings. But sometimes its just about blazing your own path and experimenting with flavors in your own kitchen. For starters, check it out below!
Because of its enherent bitterness, it's nice to pair this with a stronger and sweeter beer. This contrast brings out flavor and richness in both products. Pair with Belgian Strong, BA Stout, Porter, or Barleywine.
I find that these chocolates are by far the sweetess in terms of sugars and lack of cacao. Thus some fruity acidity and carbonation is perfect when it comes to cutting (scrubbing, if you will) the fats and resetting your palette. Pair with a fruit Lambic, Flemish red ale, tart beers.
Caramel or Nutty chocolate
"It's a pairing like peanut butter and jelly, peaches and cream, Nutella and anything. Of course your English Brown Ales would bring out a new level of nuttiness from your chocolates and caramel-filled treats. Another easy but unexpected pairing? A brown ale with a chocolate and dried fruit. The acidity of the dried fruit adds a burst of brightness to a nutty, sweet brown." - Brooklyn BrewShop. Pair with a Brown ale, beer high in malty-ness.
OTHER (Whites, filled, etc)
The idea is to complement or contrast. Mango bon bon? Try a mango fruited beer like Anchor's Mango Wheat or Ballast Point's Mango Even Keel, no brainer there. Green tea chocolate? Maybe Dogfish Head's Sah'tea, shot in the dark. White chocolate? Pair it with a Tripel or an oaky strong ale. Flavors such as coconut, honey, vanilla will naturally come out. See Bruery's White Chocolate. In summary, trust combinations that already go well together outside of beer/chocolate and play on those.
Craftbeer's Jeff Mendel has an important section on culinary pairings - sometimes a play with chocolate. “Not all beers make good mousses, and even fewer make a terrific ganache,” she said. “Sometimes, in a baked good like a cake, we will first reduce the beer down to a more concentrated flavor. However, so as not to sacrifice some of the nuances and delicate flavor notes in the beer that might have been lost to heat or evaporation, we may fold the beer in its original state into an additional component of the final dessert or pastry, thereby retaining all of the unique flavor notes of the selected craft beer.”