Friday, November 13, 2015

Beer & Chocolate - Pairings You Want

The holidays are upon us, a time when food and beer take on (an even more) prominent role and there are gifts to be bought. While I was attending the beer presentation at Beer last night with Xocolatl de David I not only enjoyed the indulgence of the delicious beer, chocolate and pairings presented but I also put this on my list of great gifts for the foodies/beeries in my life. Whether intentional or mere happy coincidence all of the beers on the evening's pairing menu are available in bottles.

In case you weren't able to make it to the event and you don't want to buy a bar and bottle of each of the pairings (although this would make a GREAT dessert course at any holiday gathering you're hosting or attending), below are my impressions of the pairings that may help you decide which to start with or choose for giving to the beeries/foodies in your life.

Almanac Meyer Lemon Gose (5%) with The Sourdough & Olive Bar
The gose was lightly lemon with the salt coming through most intensly in the front. While the beer didn't impress me enough to drink on its own the chocolate definitely elevated the beer. The chocolate on the other hand was most delicious on its own.

New Belgium Le Terrior Dry Hopped Sour (7.5%) with The Olive Bar AND The Hazelnut Black Truffle Bar
The beer was outstanding on its own, one I was sure I'd had before but Untappd argued otherwise, with the dry hop-ness being intensified by The Olive Bar. With the other bar the beer really made the truffle characteristics pop. In talking with David at the event about the tasting he did to determine the pairings he said that this was the only pairing where he felt, as I did, that both chocolates paired incredibly well with the beer; thus he decided to offer them both. Thank you, David!

Logsdon Far West Vlaming Flanders Red (6.5%) with The Rose Hips and Berries Bar
This beer is indeed one I've had and enjoyed on many occasions but it became something entirely different when paired with this chocolate. Unlike the previous pairing where elements of the beer or chocolate brought out elements of the other, with this pairing it felt more like the two melded in my mouth to instantly create a decadent chocolate brownie that was topped with perfectly ripe, fresh berry coulis.

Ballast Point Ginger Big Eye IPA (7%) with The Coconut Lemongrass Bar
I was particularly excited about this beer as I'm a big fan of ginger in both food and beer yet ended up slightly disappointed when it wasn't as powerful as I was hoping; instead it was balanced by the hops (as I'm sure was intended). As for the chocolate, before I even got it into my mouth, the aroma struck me. Trying not to gobble it all down at once I found that the trifecta of ginger, coconut and lemongrass created thoughts of a savory main dish. Far from a beer and sweets pairing it was transformational, bringing to mind Thai dishes that utilize those same flavors.

Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist Stout (11%) with The Brown Butter Bar
Saving this until last both because of the heftiness of the beer and because I was sure it would be a slam dunk (David, too, commented that The Brown Butter Bar is an easy choice to pair with stouts) I was not disappointed in the least. BBB presents with a huge roasty aroma, followed by a smooth (especially for 11%) flavor with barrel characteristics. The Butter Bar instantly brought to mind an array of tasty holiday treats, all which employ generous amounts of butter. Together the beer and chocolate were heaven with the only thing that could have possibly made it better would have been a cigar.

I thought at that point that I was done but a friend was seated next to me and generously shared the "extra" pairing - Russian River Supplication Pinot Barrel Aged Brown Ale (7%) with The Foie Gras Bar. Clearly there are some that will write this pairing off immediately because yes, there is foie in it, but for those undaunted (or better, chomping at the bit to try it) this is indeed a delightfully sinful pairing.

Thank you to Beer and Xocolatl de David for a delicious evening!