Choctoberfest – Host a Chocolate and Beer Pairing Party
Oktoberfest is in full swing. What better way to ring in the holiday season than by hosting a party that celebrates the flavors of fall? While you could go with a tried-and-true wine and cheese party, you can really wow your friends’ palates with the unique offerings of a beer and chocolate pairing party. While this may sound like a glutton’s fantasy, it is a real classy deal thanks to the shared taste vocabulary of craft brewers and confectioners. A beer and chocolate party features rich milk chocolate and velvety milk stouts, bitter dark chocolate, and the bitter hops of an IPA. Whether it’s for a Halloween party, birthday, anniversary, or Thanksgiving get-together, the flavors of the season – ginger, caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, even pumpkin – are deeply infused in both the brewing and baking processes.
Make It Happen
You don’t have to be a connoisseur to pull off this perfect pairing. We’ve got you covered with helpful tips, tricks, and mouthwatering combinations. You can either let guests sample each beer and chocolate option individually or you can act as their tour guide on this culinary adventure. It’s fun to walk guests through pre-selected pairings and sit back as your friends praise you for opening their eyes to a slew of heavenly matches. We recommend choosing five to six different beers along with an assortment of chocolate types (bars, truffles, cakes, and barks). Small, 4-ounce tasting glasses are the best way to give everyone a good sample of each beer without over-indulging. Look beyond your garden variety chocolate and beer options. This is no time for Coors Light and Hershey bars. Make your beer and chocolate pairing party a memorable experience by introducing guests to lesser-known craft beers. Shari’s Berries has you covered on the chocolate front! Below are some tasty pairings to kick-start your taste buds.
Darks and Doppelbocks
Chocolate beer is not an entirely new concept, as craft breweries have been making cocoa-infused beers for a while. When it comes to dark beers, stouts and doppelbocks are recommended for pairing with desserts. The rich malty flavors in these beers are an ideal complement to the silky sweetness of chocolate. These dark beers are made to be richer and heartier than your average ale. After all, doppelbocks were originally brewed by German monks to help fill them up during times of fasting like Lent and Advent. A great doppelbock to start with is Ayinger’s Celebrator, a German brew that is infused with caramel, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The nutty flavors of this beer perfectly pair with the spice notes of Shari’s Handmade Pumpkin Truffles to produce a flavor combination that is sure to get you in the fall spirit. For an American twist on the doppelbock, try Samuel Adams’ Chocolate Bock, a seasonal brew that is aged on a bed of cocoa nibs to produce a rich, chocolatey texture with hints of vanilla and honey. The robust flavor of this beer complements the creaminess of milk and white chocolate truffles to make a drinkable dessert. Stout beers are stronger than porters and are often brewed by adding coffee or chocolate to balance roasted malt flavors. A perfectly balanced example is the Imperial Choklat Stout by Southern Tier Brewing Company. Made in upstate New York, this stout combines the bittersweet taste of dark chocolate with notes of sweet caramel for a flavor that is particularly recommended with mint truffles. The combination of the silky mint and heavier-bodied stout makes you feel like you’re drinking a milkshake.
Sweets and Bitters
For a change of pace, introduce some lighter beer varieties such as sweet and sour Belgian lambics and bitter and hoppy IPAs. Lambics are brewed with fruit to bring out a unique, sour flavor. Avoid lambics that simply add fruit syrup and stick to ones that allow time for the fruit to ferment and produce a genuine flavor. A great place to start is the Apricot Ale from Cascade Brewing, which introduces slow-ripened apricots to a beer that is then fermented for 16 months in oak barrels before finishing. The resulting sweet and sour flavor balances the decadence of a Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake from Shari’s. A particularly sweet beer is Van Steenberge Brewery’s Cherish Raspberry Lambic that has a strong raspberry aroma and enough tartness to balance its sweetness. The strong fruit flavors match perfectly with fruit-filled chocolates or chocolate cups for a pairing that is satisfyingly sweet. Esquire calls Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA “perhaps the best IPA in America.” The taste profile of this beer is a welcome addition to the sweet lambics and malty stouts. Continuously hopped for a bitter, citrusy taste, consider pairing this India Pale Ale with a dessert that is buttery and creamy. We recommend Shari’s Handmade Caramel Pretzel Bark, which has a layer of chewy caramel topped with milk chocolate and salty pretzel bits. It’ll have your guests hopping for joy.
A Match Made in Heaven
This pairing also makes a perfect gift for your favorite beer drinker. A truly divine combination is the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout with a rich chocolate cake. High in alcohol content and flavor, the Bourbon Stout infuses rich notes of vanilla, butterscotch and fudge with a warming bourbon aftertaste. With a perfect 100 rating by BeerAdvocate.com, this dark stout is a craft beer enthusiast’s delight and would surely make a special birthday gift. Whether it’s a girls’ night in, a boys’ weekend, or a couples’ occasion, a beer and chocolate pairing party is a unique opportunity to leave your friends with a memorable experience.
Remember to savor the flavor!
This pairing is all about pleasure, so allow you and your guests the time to enjoy the subtle intricacies that each combination has to offer. Let the chocolate melt in your mouth and mix with the flavors of the beer to bring out the best in each and produce a flavor combination that can’t be found anywhere else. Be sure to call a cab if the beer tasting lasts too long!
Note: This is a guest post