If you asked a sommelier what the best wine pairing for chocolate would be, they would direct you to a fine Porto.
If you happened to think of other libations that would pair well with chocolate, you might think of an unpeated Scotch whisky, with its smooth caramel notes – and you would be right – they complement each other nicely.
But beer? Really?
In my experience getting to know the fine brews coming from Kingston and area’s craft breweries, I have explored the major beer groupings and how (and why) they lend themselves to a chocolate partnership. There’s no doubt that beers that are already dense and rich with notes of caramel and cocoa – like Spearhead Brewing Company’s Belgian Style Stout or new to the scene Fine Balance and their Teeter Totter Imperial Stout – taste even better when snacking on a bar of pure Belgian dark chocolate (particularly those with 65% or more cocoa mass).
I have found that amber ales – ones with low IBUs (International Bitterness Units) – are especially good with both milk and dark chocolates. Local favourites in this category include Skeleton Park Brewery’s Amber 6.6 or the sweeter beet-infused MacKinnon Brothers Red Fox fall into this category. Of note, Riverhead Brewing Company’s creamy Milk Stout, with its addition of lactose also complements both dark and milk chocolate.
Does white chocolate count? Is it even chocolate? This is a divisive issue. Some might say it would go well with the milk stout. I’ll let you decide…
One final note: The hop-forward IPA’s, DPA’s and NEPA’s that are very popular these days are best paired with a spicy pizza than a chocolate snack. I find the bitterness, especially in those brews with citrusy hop varieties, just clash with cocoa.
I hope that you try these daring and different beers or gift them to a beer-loving loved one – along with some fine quality chocolate. If you ever need some guidance when navigating the chocolate world, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll be glad to help out.