Beer and food is a match made in heaven, especially when you have the expertise to match them properly.
With the wide range of styles — from delicately spiced saisons and boldly hopped IPAs to strong stouts and barley wines — it makes perfect sense to find foods that can help you appreciate each brew's unique characteristics.
And one of the best pairings out there is chocolate, which runs the spectrum from smooth to bitter, dark to bright, and malty to acidic. If you want to learn more — and try some actual beer and chocolate pairings in action — head over to Pompano Beach-based 26 Degree Brewing on April 13 as it teams up with JP's Chocolate Shoppe in Fort Lauderdale. This first-time gourmet pairing will feature an assortment of JP's decadent, handmade chocolate treats alongside 26 Degree's craft beers.
According to JP's Chocolate Shoppe owner JP Cobleigh, chocolate and beer work well together because the beer’s carbonation is a great match for the rich, fatty feel of the cocoa butter on the palate.
"We're thrilled to bring this new, flavorful pairing experience to South Florida," says Cobleigh. "Our fine assortment of chocolates will complement the variety of craft beers featured and brewed at 26 Degree Brewing Company."
Attendees will sample four dedicated couplings. That includes sea-salt-dusted dark-chocolate truffles paired with Ziko’s Rage Imperial Stout and dark chocolate dipped bacon dusted with chipotle powder paired with Scotch Ness Monster Scotch ale. You'll also have the option to purchase additional growlers and chocolates to continue your research at home.
Three Tips for Pairing Beer and Chocolate:
1. Make the Perfect Match
Certain styles of beer are good for pairing with chocolate — and some styles are not. A general rule of thumb: The lighter-bodied alcoholic and lower-alcohol-content sessionable styles — such as pilsners and pale ales — don't have enough flavor to hold up against the rich, fatty cocoa butter of the chocolate. Hefeweizens, however, are an exception, many of which exhibit a fruity, zesty, spicy character that pairs well with chocolate. As a rule of thumb, steer clear of IPAs as well. Why? The intense hop bitterness of most of IPAs is often overwhelming and sometimes clashes with the flavor of most chocolate, making it difficult to find a solid pairing. Instead, go for bigger, richer, and maltier beers like porters, stouts, barley wines, sours, and barrel-aged styles.
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2. Remember the Two C's
When pairing beer with anything (not just chocolate), it's important to remember to compare and contrast. To compare, look for similar flavors in the beer and chocolate; if you are serving a dry dark chocolate, a dry porter with lots of roasty-toasty flavors makes a great companion. On the flip side, imagine matching a tangy, sour beer with a sweet, chocolate-covered cherry. When tasting, remember to give a good sniff before you indulge. Often, beer aroma will help prep the palate for both a good beer and well-made chocolate. Likewise, to get the most flavor when tasting each chocolate, place it on your tongue and let it melt a little before chewing.
3. Go for Variety
For a varied tasting, try selecting a mix of chocolate styles, from milk to dark and even white, as well as the type of chocolate you'll be eating. To reduce palate boredom, considered items including truffles, bars, and chocolate-covered fruits or pretzels — all paired with no more than five or six different beers. Just remember: There's no right or wrong way to pair, so — most important — have fun.
The beer and chocolate pairing event will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, at 26 Degree Brewing Co. (2600 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach). Tickets cost $20. Visit eventbrite.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.