Pairing great beer and great food is a no brainer. Although perhaps not your first thought, pairing great beer and great chocolate is as well. In fact, craft beer and well, craft chocolate, have quite a bit in common.
This Christmas, Samuel Adams is teaming up with San Francisco based craft chocolate maker TCHO to introduce the Samuel Adams Beer Lover's Chocolate Box. Samuel Adams brewers worked closely with TCHI chief chocolate maker Brad Kintzer to create special chocolates with the Samuel Adams Winter Classics Variety pack.
Although wine is traditionally viewed as the ultimate chocolate pairing, Samuel Adams and TCHO argue differently, explaining the malty rich taste of beer nicely matches premium chocolate and, unlike wine, the carbonation of beer can cleanse the palate, preparing the taster for the next delicious bite.
A couple disclosures: I like beer. I sorta like chocolate. In reality, I do not eat a lot of sugar. I drink only three liquids: water, coffee, and beer. No soft drinks, no energy drinks, no cookies, no cakes, no cupcakes, and in general, no "sweets". When it comes to desert, I would rather have a scotch, or a sip of port. I'll skip the 1000 calories carrot cake. Even though I could easy eat it.
So, as I opened up TCHO's chocolate box, I was a little skeptical.
The first thing I noticed was the care in packaging Yes, I understand this has nothing to do with the actual chocolate, but I feel it's worth noting. A lot of care went into the design. In fact, it had rather "Apple" like qualities to it. I like "things" well built. Even chocolate boxes. It's all in the details.
Second, since chocolate is not my thing, I was intrigued by the total pairing idea. As a guy who grew up with junk food, Baby Ruth, I'm looking at you, the idea of "craft" chocolate was appealing.
It shouldn't come as any great surprise, but this little 8 gram morsel was delicious. When I paired the Dark "Fruity" piece with Samuel Adams White Christmas, it was even better. Chocolate and Beer pairing is not dunking a Kit Kat in a glass of Natty Light, it's exploring two similar, yet dissimilar tastes, and watching, or rather, sensing what happens when they cross paths.
There is a certain amount of bitterness to the dark chocolates I really enjoyed. It is not something I eat a lot of, so I was quite taken. Most interesting to me, was the whole beer/palate cleansing process. The carbonation really does sort of "clean the deck", if you will, to ready the mouth for another bit of chocolate. It was a neat experience.
I'm saving the SeriousMilk Cacao for a pairing with some Chocolate Bock I've squirreled away in the beer fridge. I'm curious as to what the chocolate on chocolate does. Will the chocolate v. chocolate cancel out the chocolate in the bock and bring out other tastes?
It took a lot of restraint to not eat the entire box and to be fair, Zoë helped.
If you are looking at a neat idea to help ring in the holidays, consider adding chocolate along with your next beer tasting. It's well worth the sweet experience.
Note: Samuel & Adams & TCHO provided me with the chocolate box. My opinions above are, of course, my own. After all, I'm pretty sure no one else would want to claim them.