Beer and Chocolate Pairings

Brandon Carbonare

Calling all beer fans and foodies! Valentine’s Day is around the corner and although we love the traditional heart-shaped box of chocolates and bouquet of roses, why not up your tradition to a Valentine’s Day Experience? We’re talking about beer and chocolate pairings – that’s right, beer and chocolate. Interested? Read all about some of our favorite pairings.

First up, Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA. This beer has a very unique brewing process, by boiling over 60 different hops for a full hour a pungent, citrusy, and grassy flavor is born. All without being overly bitter. This hop-forward golden amber India pale ale provides piney and citrusy notes with a crisp mouthfeel and slightly lingering bitterness. You can find it year-round, measuring in at 6% ABV with an IBU of 60. With a beer like this, you’ll want to pair it with a spicy or salty dark Chocolate. Elements of spice and salt both pair nicely with the contrasting crispness from the IPA and mellow together with the finishing subtle bitterness of both the beer and the chocolate.  There really is no going wrong with this combo and would make for a perfect after dinner treat.

Our 2nd round is for the pilsner lovers out there. Let’s take a look at Pilsner Urquell! First brewed by Josef Groll in 1842, Pilsner Urquell was the world’s FIRST golden pilsner lager, changing the world of beer forever. Pilsner Urquell’s signature flavor balances sweetness from the triple-decocted malt, and bitterness from our Saaz hops. The thick head of dense, wet foam adds smoothness and seals in flavor and aroma. With a refreshing crispness from natural carbonation, then subtle caramel tones and a clean finish with a pleasing hoppy bitterness. This Czech beer rates a 4.4% ABV and IBU of 40 – pairing perfectly with a medium body dark chocolate. Our chocolate of choice for this beer is dark chocolate truffles. These decadent poppable pearls deliver a uniquely smooth and rich gourmet taste, and there is no going wrong with a smooth dark chocolate center covered in a delicate dark chocolate shell.

Next up we’re going local, to the capital region’s own Brown’s Brewery. Engaging, dark, and bold, Brown’s Oatmeal Stout is an ever-popular ode to the classic English Stout, earning Brown’s the prestigious gold medal at the World Beer Cup. An approachable, easy to drink, rich, and silky-smooth glass of pure delicious indulgence. Coming in at 5.25% ABV and an IBU of 20, this stout pairs with something a little different – coffee flavored dark chocolate. The bold flavors of the stout work perfectly with the just as bold flavor of the coffee beans in the chocolate bar. Give this pairing a go if you’re a true coffee lover.

Staying with the spirit of local, our next beer hailing from Cooperstown, we have Ommegang Three Philosophers. Rich and complex, this tour de force is a glorious blend of elegant Belgian-style quadruple ale and authentic Belgian kriek, its malty depth and gentle sweetness enhanced by sparkling carbonation and a serendipitous touch of cherry. This Beer packs a punch at 9.7% ABV and an IBU of 21. For this beer, we recommend being adventurous. Try some unique varieties of dark chocolate, flavors of cinnamon, cayenne, oatmilk, and more all work with this versatile brew.  These pairings can be customized to give you a unique experience every time and allowing Ommegang’s unique beer to really shine.

Now on to our final pairing, we take a look at Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde, a Top fermented Blonde Belgian triple, coming in at 9% ABV and an IBU of 19. Unibroue’s Flagship, this beer is medium bodied with a pleasant, lingering warm finish, a fine, sustained, and slow effervescence and a white, creamy, generous head. Brighten up your pairing and your day with orange or citrusy dark chocolate. Delicious velvety chocolate with a hint of orange for a bright and citrusy accompaniment works beautifully with this wonderful beer, you can’t go wrong with the warmth of a Belgian triple and orange chocolate, a match made perfect.

While we may have reached the end of today’s pairings, that doesn’t mean there aren’t more out there. Let us know on social media if you try any of these suggestions or just let us know know if you have a recommendation that would be a great combination. Thanks for sticking around and joining us on our pairing adventure.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Celebrate with Cheese Pairings!

For many, cheese is a staple when it comes to celebrating, especially during the holidays. Luckily, our in-store delis provide a plethora of tasty cheeses, perfect for pairing with a relaxing drink.  We’ve created a list of some of our favorites, each with their ideal beverage pairings. Try these options below and find your new favorite combination!

Vermont Creamery Honey Goat Log: Vermont Creamery Clover Blossom Honey Goat Cheese takes Vermont’s classic, mild fresh goat cheese and blends it with sweet clover honey. The honey pairs perfectly with the tart creaminess of fresh goat cheese. Try it with Barbera wine, Founders All Day IPA or a Belgian Tripel Beer like Ommegang’s Three Philosophers.

Fleur de Franco Brie: A beautiful wheel of French double cream Brie, Fleur de Franco is pleasantly mild and approachable, yet fully flavored with a buttery interior and soft, fluffy rind. Pair it with a sparkling wine, Chardonnay, or a German pilsner like Saranac Adirondack Lager.

Grafton 2 Year Old Cheddar: Fits the classic profile of a New England Cheddar: buttery notes with a bold, sharp tang and a long, nutty finish. The aroma is lactic and bright, with flavors of sweet cream, freshly mown hay, and tangy, cultured milk. Completed by a moderate acidity. Pair it with balanced, full-bodied wines such as Merlot or White Burgundy, or brews such as Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Brown Ale, Brooklyn Brewing Bel-Air Sour Beer, or even Angry Orchard Hard Cider.

Market 32 American Grana by BelGioioso: Made from freshly gathered local raw milk, this premium American Grana Parmesan cheese is allowed to mature a minimum of 18 months on wooden shelves in special caves. During this process, each wheel is hand-turned to ensure proper aging and development of its deep, nutty flavor and granular texture. Try it with bold Cabernet Sauvignon or a bock beer like Shiner Bock.

BelGioioso Creamy Gorgonzola: Handcrafted and aged 90 days in special caves, master cheesemakers hand-rub each wheel with salt and pierce small holes into the rind of the cheese, allowing air to penetrate and facilitate the growth of beneficial mold. This care and craft creates an exceptionally earthy flavor and creamy texture. Cut right through the thin rind and spread on a baguette. Great when paired with a Harpoon Rec League or other light IPA’s.

Any of these ideas pique your interest? Visit us online or at your local store to find all of these pairing items!

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