One of the great things about beer and food pairings is that you just never know what you’re gonna get. Or, wait, that’s a box of chocolates, isn’t it. Either way, food pairings often times throw me for a loop. This one is no exception, as nearly all the beers I tried with these chocolates were far from optimal pairings. I tried nearly every sweet, roasty, and chocolatey beer that Barrel Republic had on tap (44 self-serve beer taps), and I found only one that was a solid general pairing beer. Here is a list of the beers that I tried with the chocolates in tasting order:
- Lost Abbey Lost and Found
- St Bernardus Christmas Ale
- Lost Abbey Merry Taj
- The Bruery 7 Swans a Swimming
- Russian River/Avery Collaboration Not Litigation Ale
- Great Divide Orabelle
- Brasserie Dupont Biere De Miel
- Fall Brewing 2 a.m. Bike Ride
- Lagunitas Scare City
- North Coast Old Stock Ale Cellar Reserve 2013
- Deschutes Abyss
While there were a couple other decent pairings (Abyss w/ raspberry truffle, St Bernardus Xmas w/ white chocolate walnut), the best pairing beer by far was the 2 a.m. Bike Ride by Fall Brewing Company, a new brewery set in the trendy North Park neighborhood of San Diego. The kicker is that this beer turned out to be the last one that I thought would work with these chocolates. While it is a coffee stout, and hence has roasty and a bit of chocolatey flavor, it is low in alcohol and sweetness, so I did not have high hopes for it standing up to these sweet and intensely flavorful chocolates. But I figured, what the hell, I always like to throw in a wild card.
And glad I did. I liken this pairing to coffee with cream and sugar. You’ve got the beer, which has a generous dose of locally roasted Dark Horse Coffee, along with vanilla beans. So there’s your coffee and cream right there. Then there’s the chocolate, or the sugar with the coffee and cream. The chocolate, of course, adds another element to this coffee analogy. So you can call it a mocha cappuccino of sorts.
In my experience, sweet food generally does not work with beer that is not sweet. But this delicious, creamy, roasty concoction from Fall Brewery fits the bill perfectly. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Note: try substituting any coffee stout or milk stout for this pairing. I can’t guarantee that it will work, but have a sense of adventure, will ya?
Other suggested pairings: Alesmith Speedway Stout, Founder’s Breakfast Stout, Long Ireland Breakfast Stout, Highwater Campfire Stout, Troegs Java Head, Modern Times Black House, Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro, Duck Rabbit Milk Stout
Special thanks goes out to Sean, Nikki, and all the good people at Barrel Republic for letting me run amok in their tasting room.