Many of you are familiar with the concept of pairing chocolate and wine. As a Master Chocolatier at Lindt USA, I’ve been asked to create pairings and conduct tastings with our delicious premium chocolate and excellent wine. I can’t complain because I am passionate about both! They are tasted in a similar fashion and share many of same aroma and flavor characteristics. Recently, however, I had the opportunity to experience a different kind of pairing. A colleague who works with Lindt Chocolate RSVP was attending an artisan beer expo and asked if I could recommend any chocolate and beer pairings.
After I hung up the phone with her I immediately wrote to my friend, Tod Mott. He’s the uber-talented Head Brewer at Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth, NH. Tod’s handcrafted beers have won accolades for years. His Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout is recognized worldwide as best in show and creates chaos downtown when it’s released in March. Could he possibly find time to help me with this? I’d bring the chocolate if he’d provide the beer. Fortunately, he was available (and enthusiastic!) so I sent him a list and description of the chocolate we needed to pair.
Like many of you who are reading this, I too was a skeptic. Not anymore. I’m now a full fledged believer! There’s something honest and earthy about this partnership. Tod selected specific beers to complement the different cocoa contents and flavors of the chocolate. Here is a list of the parings that were our particular favorites. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Lindt Excellence Touch of Sea Salt & Gose
A Touch of Sea Salt features a 47% sweet dark chocolate punctuated with flakes of hand harvested Fleur de Sel sea salt. Gose, an ancient German style beer, has a low hop bitterness, and complementary dryness and spice from the use of ground coriander seeds. It’s brewed with salt which adds a pleasant sharpness.
Verdict: Complete harmony, delightful pairing. Very Zen. (Tip: For a similar experience try a Hefeweizen)
Other notable match: Belgian Tripel
Lindt Excellence Chili & Saison
The popular Excellence Chili bar is a 47% sweet dark chocolate featuring the spicy warmth of chili. Saison, often referred to Farmhouse ale, is a light, yet refreshing and full flavored ale with a crisp spiciness. Tod’s version is crafted with green and pink peppercorns and hibiscus. Many are semi-dry with fruity aromas and a touch of sweetness.
Verdict: Pops the pepper in the chili bar. Wow!
Other notable match: IPA
Excellence Extra Creamy & Belgian Dubbel
Our Excellence Extra Creamy milk chocolate has notes of caramel, sweet milk and malt. Belgian Dubbel is a rich malty beer with some spicy and yeasty characteristics. It has mild hop bitterness, but no lingering hop flavors. It may show traits of a steely caramel flavor from the use of crystal malt or dark candy sugar.
Verdict: Creamy, dense texture and malty perfection; works in concert!
Classic White Chocolate & Belgian Tripel
Classic White is sweet, rich and buttery. Originating in abbey breweries, Belgian Tripels are brewed with nearly 3 times the malt found in other beers. Characterized by a deep golden color, medium body and subtle hop aroma they’re fruity and yeasty with a lingering sweetness.
Verdict: Great match-cuts through the butter to elevate the flavors of the chocolate.
Other notable match: American Wheat Beer
Excellence 70% Dark Chocolate & Milk Stout
Excellence 70% is a smooth and balanced high cocoa content dark chocolate. Very similar to Sweet Stouts, Milk Stouts characteristically have larger amounts of residual dextrin and unfermented sugars that give the brew more body and a sweetness that balances the roasted character.
Verdict: Partners beautifully with the roasted cocoa to leave a soft and supple mouth feel.
Other notable match: Belgian Pale Ale
If you aren’t in Portsmouth or don’t have a microbrewery nearby, check out the beer advocate website. It will provide recommendations for the styles of the beer that we paired with our chocolate! For the best results always remember to partner premium Lindt chocolate with a premium beer. Both will use only the highest quality ingredients, artisan like recipes and strict quality control. Life is too short for ordinary chocolate…and ordinary beer. Enjoy!
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