Pike Brewing’s Annual Chocofest continues to charm me. How can it not – it’s all about CHOCOLATE! Throw in the hospitality of Rose Anne and Charles Finkel, top that off with the addition of specialty brews incorporating chocolate, proceeds from the event benefiting Seattle job training program FareStart and you’ve got an event that remains tops in my book. If you missed out this year, not to worry. You can visit Pike Brewing and enjoy their hospitality any day of the week. You can also visit many of the other participants. Just check the links below.
New This Year
The event was expanded into the brewery’s lower level. This meant space for additional wineries, distilleries, cider makers, a meadery, restaurants, bakers and artisan cheese makers. One of the unique additions to this years event included Chocolate Beer. Uh huh. My precious!
I have to admit that I didn’t – okay couldn’t - sample all the goodies being served that night. So I tried to focus on tasting products I hadn’t consumed before. With that in mind, here are some of the standout items I sampled.
One of the new additions to the event this year was Seattle based Cookie Box. Anne Nisbet, one of the business partners, served two featured cookies. One, called “Hannah” is a sour cherry and white chocolate chunk brownie bite. The other called, “PeterMate” incorporates triple ginger and dried pear. The distinguishing characteristics of Cookie Box cookies? The delicious morsels are made from pure ingredients, are bite sized so that we can indulge guilt free, and they’re made to pair with wine. Those are my kind of cookies! Here’s the icing on the cake…er, cookie. I just saw them at my local Thriftway. This is great news since Cookie Box doesn’t have a store front. So if you missed out at Chocofest, you can buy them in Seattle. Otherwise, order online. The next time I need a hostess gift, I’m keeping that in mind.
Another food highlight included Macrina Bakery’s Gluten Free Chocolate Rose Gianduja. This rich chocolate delight took my breath away. I also have to say that Rebecca Early and Anna Moomaw who represented the bakery were about as sweet as the chocolates being served up that night.
What’s a night of indulgence without some cheese? Allyson Taylor, whose business card reads, “Cheese Slinger” was serving up tastes of Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Seastack and Off Kilter artisan cheeses. The Off Kilter is a toma is washed in Pike Brewing Company’s Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale. The cheeses were delightful paired with beer. If you missed out, you can visit Mt. Townsend Creamery’s new tasting room at the Pike Place Market.
Don Webb from Naked City Brewery and Taphouse was pouring the Chocolate Hefeweizen I raved about at the BitterSweet event. Okay, so that wasn’t uncharted territory, but how could I resist tasting it again? It’s a fantastic concoction, and it’s not like I get to drink it every day! To make amends I tried their Choco Train Milk Chocolate Imperial Stout that I never tasted before. It came as no surprise that it was a much darker color. It wasn’t too heavy on the palate and had a nice chocolate finish. I can’t wait to find out what Naked City Brewery is pouring the next time I see them!
One of the more intriguing beers of the evening was crafted by Epic Ales whose inspiration comes from Belgian brews. When I heard them say they had Creamsicle Beer I raised my eyebrows skeptically thinking, “Really?” On the event flyer the beer is listed as “Vanilla and Orange SoDo Sour.” I believe my scribbly notes say the flavor combination is derived from vanilla, hibiscus, and blood orange. While I was tweeting about my fascination with it, someone replied that he couldn’t decide whether he liked that better over their other pour, the Chocolate and Chile SoDo Sour. I’m not one to argue. I take my hat off to Epic Ales for creating two very unique and tasty brews.
Trophy Cupcakes gets the prize for generosity. They were serving up full size Pike Brewery 5X Stout Chocolate Cupcakes and Triple Chocolate Cupcakes. I’m sure I was walking around the rest of the night with frosting on my face, but it was worth it.
The Ultimate Pairing
Pastry Chef Lucy Damkoehler of Mistral Kitchen, served up a Macaroon Cookie with Pike 5X Stout Cream, a seriously creamy, dreamy filling. Since she was conveniently located next to Diamond Knot Brewery, they poured me a sip of their cask-conditioned Mint Chocolate Porter as a chaser. The beer, made from Diamond Knot Porter conditioned with fresh mint leaves and milk chocolate, tastes like the liquid version of Mint Frangos. Totally unexpected and totally enjoyable. With the Macaroon Cookie – amazing! They took each other to the next level creating a party of creamy, minty, chocolaty goodness in my mouth.
If all this sounds good to you then be sure to pay attention next January for Chocofest 2013 to be announced. The event is typically held right before Valentine’s Day. Believe me, nothing beats a little foreplay before the big day. Meanwhile, get out there and visit some of these folks!