Many people consider wine to be the best for pairing with both chocolate and cheese. We believe that beer is a much better choice. Unlike most wines, beer is carbonated and can cleanse and awaken the palate, making for a very pleasing pairing experience. Beer has a great deal in common with both chocolate and cheese. They are all fermented and take on a greater degree of complexity and development as a result of the fermentation process. When pairing beer with cheese and chocolate we recommend artisanally made, high quality products like those available at Delight Chocolate and Junction Fromagerie.
Beer, cheese and chocolate are all a delicate balance of bitterness and sweet flavours. The best pairings are the ones that showcase and enhance the flavours of each other. Here are a few tips for creating successful beer/cheese and beer/chocolate pairing:
- When serving multiple beers start with the lightest flavour and move to the bolder flavours. That doesn't necessarily mean lightest to darkest colour either. Start with lagers and work your way up to IPAs and stouts. The same goes for the chocolate and the cheese. Start with mild soft cheeses and work your way up to the funky blue. For chocolate, begin with the milk chocolate and move up to the darker more bitter chocolates.
- Before doing a tasting, take your cheese out of the fridge (keeping it wrapped up) for at least an hour before serving. We also recommend taking the beer of out the fridge for at least half an hour before as well. Chocolate shouldn't be refrigerated, just kept in a cool dark place. In all cases having everything closer to room temperature (the cheese and chocolate especially) brings out more of the aromas and flavours.
- When it comes to the tasting itself, pour your beer into a glass, you'll be able to get all of the aromas and more of the flavour in the beer than you would straight out of the bottle or can.
- Experiment with tasting the beer first, followed by a bite of the cheese or chocolate, then reverse the order. You'll notice a difference. Note how different your mouth feels depending on the order you try them in.
Don't be afraid to experiment either. Not all the combinations will work out, but some will be extraordinary once discovered. Using our Valentine's Sommelier Six Pack as examples, try the beers in the order below for the best results:
- Helles Island Lager - pair this with the Bleeding Heart (blood orange caramel) The orange flavours in the chocolate will amplify the citrus notes in the hops. The caramel will also complement the malt character of the beer.
- Goldie Boat English Golden Ale - the best possible pairing here is with the Cows Cheddar. Cheddar is an English style cheese and there is a great pairing adage to remember "What grows together, goes together." The hop bitterness will cut through the creaminess of the cheese without overpowering the flavour of the cheese.
- Settebello Italian Pilsner - pair this with either the Bleeding Heart or the Chocolate Caramel with Smoked Sea Salt. Pilsners have more bitterness so they'll balance out the sweetness of the caramel in a different way than the Helles does.
- Diamond Park Mild - pair this with the Chocolate Caramel with Smoked Sea Salt or the Maple Butter. The carmel backbone of this traditional English beer will complement the chocolates nicely, with the light carbonation cleansing the palate between bites.
Mango Fett NEIPA with Lactose - pairing this with the vanilla rose chocolate will bring forward the mango notes in the beer and make it taste like a milkshake.
Other pairing suggestions:
- Alpine Dunkel Lager - dark beers are always a good choice for pairing with chocolate. The coffee and chocolate notes in the beer are quite complementary so will pair well with all four of the chocolates, each tasting slightly different
- Time Lord IPA - pairing with a hop forward West Coast IPA like this requires the bold taste of the Chocolate Caramel with Smoked Sea Salt. This will bring out the malt character of the beer and the bitterness in the beer will emphasize the smokey sea salt.
- Hey You Guys India Porter - this style of beer brings together the coffee and chocolate notes of the malt and mixes it up with hop bitterness. This will do very interesting things with all of the chocolates, but most notably the Caramel with Smoked Sea Salt
Cheese and chocolate really are a great beer pairing experience, we are very sure you'll enjoy it! Pick up our Valentine's Sommelier Six Pack, available now for pre-order with deliveries and pickups at the brewery starting Wednesday February 10th.