August 25, 2015

Beer And Chocolate: The Perfect Pair

Chocolate and beer are the match you just realized you've always wanted.

Chocolate and beer are the match you just realized you’ve always wanted.

Since it was first popularized, the world has had a love affair with chocolate. For many years, when pairing this treat with alcohol, wine was the drink of choice. However, pairings are best when the two flavors complement each other: Chocolate and wine tend to fight for attention rather than highlight one another’s strengths. But foodies looking to find exciting combinations shouldn’t give up hope: Beer is the hero you’ve been waiting for. Chocolate and beer make sense together because, while they’re both strong flavors, their textures complement each other. Beer’s carbonation stands in contrast to chocolate’s thick, oily richness, making for a whole new experience. These chocolate-and-beer pairings will bring out all of the great flavors and textures of both.

Since Austin culinary arts programs have access to great craft beers and local chocolatiers such as Chocolatierie Tessa, you have the perfect opportunity to experiment with different beer-and-chocolate combinations to create something special.

The basics
There are some general tips you can use to create great beer-and-chocolate pairings. These guidelines are true for any food combination, and are ways that flavors are known to interact with each other. Make sure the strength of your beer matches the strength of your chocolate. If one or the other is noticeably stronger, that flavor is going to overpower the combination. Use the properties of one to bring out the flavors of the other: For example, bitter flavors detract from sweetness, letting other flavors shine. When working with chocolate specifically, relatively match the sweetness of the food and beverage. Well-balanced contrast can do wonders, but too much contrast can leave a bad taste in your mouth (literally). Try different combinations to see what works.

Getting started
If you’re looking for some suggestions to get you started pairing beer with chocolate, here are a few combinations for inspiration:

  • Milk chocolate + stout: Milk chocolate is one of the sweeter types of chocolate out there. This combination works because the strength of the stout lets it stand out against the sweetness of the chocolate, while the chocolate brings out the creamy tones of the stout.
  • Dark chocolate + pilsner: Dark chocolate is fairly easy to pair, and goes well with most beers. Pairing it with a pilsner lets the bitterness of the dark chocolate calm the bitterness in the beer, brining out the pilsner’s citrus notes.
  • Chocolate caramels + IPA: The sweetness of caramel might seem like an odd match for an IPA, but IPA’s are excellent pairs for anything buttery.