Chocolate and beer have some similarities in that they have both followed somewhat similar paths of late in becoming true modern day artisan goods. They are now being produced by specialists who are sufficiently skilled to give them nuanced characteristics and who are leveraging their terroir.
Armed with virtually no knowledge of the chocolate market, or the growing band of small producers around the world, I ventured into the world of Cocoa Runners (based in London’s St. James’s actually). But I did bring along some interesting bottles of beer that would hopefully compliment the chocolate.
Brewfist Fear + Tcho milk chocolate
The chocolate dominated the beer, which did not really punch that hard at a modest 5.2%. It was beaten well and truly by the chocs 53% cocoa.
Tap East Coffee in the Morning + Menakao
Excellent match with citrus flavours powering through to create a great complimentary mouthful.
LA Indiana Catalan IPA + Duffy’s Honduras
Not sure what happened here. The 72% cocao and the bitternesss of the beer clashed.
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout + Grenada Chocolate Company joint-venture with Rococo
The smokiness of the stout was well balanced with this interesting collaborative bar that highlights how the chocolate world is growing up.
Wild Beer Millionaire + Blanxart milk chocolate 44% Filipinas
Despite the salty aftertaste of this sublime beer the front-end sweetness produced too much of a fudgy mix in the mouth when combined with the chocolate that was a tad overpowering.
Wells & Youngs Sticky Toffee Pudding + Blanxart milk chocolate 44% Filipinas
These two very sweet flavours worked extremely well together with the fattiness in both providing an enhancement to each other. Perfect match.
Wild Beer Millionaire + Joradi’s Rustic Vanilla
This has a very unusual textured chocolate with vanilla pods clearly adding to the mix almost with a coconut chewability. Worked pretty well together for me.
Celt Brigid Fire Smoked Rye IPA + Mast Brothers Papua New Guinea
The rich smokiness of the chocolate over-powered the beer, which lacked sufficient smoke to put up any conflict or complimentary aspects. Consume and enjoy them both separately I reckon.
Wells & Youngs Stick Toffee Pudding + Fruition Chocolate Toasted White
This is true white chocolate – which has a greenish brown tint and is almost Caramac-like in consistency. It’s a top notch product and although it matches well in terms of sweetness levels with the beer the winner in terms of flavour really is the chocolate.
The conclusion is that such an exercise is pretty inconclusive but highlights how top-notch products can be enhanced by pairing them with other high quality goods. With some matchings you win while with others you lose – that’s exactly what makes it an interesting exercise.
What was particularly enlightening in this instance was that Cocoa Runners pointed out that six companies dominate the world of chocolate. Sounds rather similar to beer don’t you think. Thankfully both markets are now enjoying an uprising of small, high quality producers that are slowly but surely changing the world order.