My love for chocolate is followed closely by my affinity for red wine, and when I’m in the mood for bubbles I go for champagne – chocolate goes great with both! But I do have some near and dear to me with tastes that diverge from my own and head down the hoppy path, so in recognition of my brew-loving friends I’m especially happy to share a rundown of chocolate beers.
First, let’s take a look at exactly how chocolate and beer marry up. There are actually a few different approaches, and each has its own distinct flavor. To first go over the basics, beer is made of four basic ingredients; water, yeast, hops and malted barley. When you add anything else to that combination it is known as an adjunct, and over the years adjuncts have become more and more creative and interesting. As an adjunct, chocolate can be added early in the mashing process, during the boiling process, during the fermentation, or even after the processing is over, right before it is bottled. The mashing process is when the barley kernels are first broken down, and any flavoring added at this point gives the beer an essence rather than a specific flavoring. Chocolate added at this point gives a strong, earthy bitterness.
The boiling process of making beer takes just an hour or two. The longer an adjunct is subjected to the boil, the less profound the impact of the flavoring, so if a strong chocolate flavor is desired then the chocolate will only be boiled for fifteen minutes – for a more subtle flavor it is added early in the process. Adding chocolate during the fermentation process allows the full flavor and characteristics of the chocolate to shine, though even more than during fermentation are the beers that have chocolate added after all of the processing is complete – imagine pouring chocolate syrup into your beer and you have the idea.
There are several terrific chocolate beers that are fun to give as gifts or try on a cold Sunday night – or for a really fun time with friends, do a chocolate beer tasting party, with samples of each in shot glasses or highball glasses. Here are a few of our favorites:
• Rogue Chocolate Stout
• Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
• Sexual Chocolate
• Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout
• Down ‘n Dirty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
• Slumbrew Porter Square Porter
• Chocolate Tom
• Chocolate Indulgence
• Cherry Chocolate Beer