A chocolate rimmed glass of Fremont Brewing "Susan"

Last April we asked the question, “Is pairing wine with chocolate like having sex on the beach?” Well, what about pairing beer and chocolate? The Finkels of Pike Brewing celebrate the pairing of beer and chocolate each year right before Valentine’s Day with their Chocofest that they like to bill as “foreplay before the big day.” So maybe this is the pairing we should be romanticizing.

The challenge when pairing wine with chocolate is that if the wine isn’t as sweet as or sweeter than the chocolate, it spanks the fruit right out of your wine (thank you Jeffrey Saad). So, what is the guideline when pairing, oh, say a stout with chocolate? Just thinking of the flavor of stout makes me think of chocolate. However, I’m no beer expert and I usually rely on the rest of the crew here at Washington State Beer and Wine for beer guidance. So, it’s time to do some experimenting. As luck would have it, the  BitterSweet:Beer+Chocolate event is here to help.

The Washington Beer Blog is the producer of this event we attended tonight. Event organizers selected eight Seattle-area breweries to participate, and each brewery produced a beer using products from Theo Chocolate. Brilliant! Also, each brewery provided a beer from its regular lineup paired with a particular Theo Chocolate. They had me at chocolate.

As soon as I saw that Naked City Brewing was pouring a Schokolade Weizen I held out my glass. That’s right, chocolate wheat beer. I always go for the wheat beers. They’re not usually like this one, though. As I took that first sip, a smooth river of flavors similar to chocolate milk cascaded over my tongue. Love it!

Fremont Brewing treated us to a specialty beer named Susan, described as a unique dark ale brewed with Maris Otter, Amber, and Smoked malts with extracted chocolate solids added in the boil, finished with extracted chocolate juice from a unique Theo process. Much like how a margarita glass is rimmed with salt, each beer glass got rimmed with shavings of chocolate. That’s a special treat in itself as the aromas of the chocolate waft up before the precious beverage hits the tongue. Then comes that smokiness from the malts making this one of my favorite brews of the evening.

As for pairings, the one that appealed to me the most was from Elysian Brewing. I was surprised by this, because the chocolate in the pairing wasn’t a bar chocolate or a confection. Rather, the beer was paired with Theo Cocoa Nibs. Coche de Medianoche is the name of the beer, and it delivers loads of spice flavors and a great depth of flavor. Pumpkin is part of the recipe, but I wouldn’t have guessed it. The two together were perfection and I was pleased that the beer didn’t wash away the nib flavor. In a word, amazing!

Sadly, I didn’t get to try every beer and pairing the event offered. But I did leave with the revelation that perhaps the best way to pair beer and chocolate is to combine them.

The breweries participating in BitterSweet:Beer+Chocolate included Airways Brewing, Big Time Brewery, Black
Raven Brewing
, Elysian Brewing, Fremont Brewing, Georgetown Brewing, Naked City Brewing, and Two Beer