Chocolate and Beer
Learn how to put together a tasty pair yourself.
As Rex Halfpenny introduced the idea of pairing artisan beers with gourmet chocolates at the Epicurean Classic in
"We are not talking about light beer and M&Ms here," says Halfpenny, publisher of the Michigan Beer Guide and a certified beer judge. He presented the idea of eating high-cocoa-content chocolates with a swig of good beer at the 2007 northern
For five years, Halfpenny has presented beer and chocolate seminars throughout
Wine Enthusiast: How did you put beer and chocolate together in the first place?
Rex Halfpenny: The idea came from a beer writer in
WE: How did you make the leap to chocolate?
RH: I started investigating—only I elevated it. We do craft-brewed, higher-end beers, so I sought higher-end chocolate, higher-cocoa content, cocoa butter.
WE: How do you know which chocolates go with which beers?
RH: Look at stouts and porters—they have roasted flavors like chocolate or coffee. We use that as a stepping stone, a take-off point. For example, a Belgian Triple, which has citrusy-orangey flavors, [with] Green & Black's Maya Gold. It's spiced, chili spices and orange flavors.
WE: How can someone get started?
RH: Go out and find a variety of high-end chocolates and then get a variety of craft and imported beers. Sit down with friends and mix and match and discover.
WE: What about people who already know a lot about beer or chocolate or both?
RH: Pair crisper, lighter beers with candy [and] lighter chocolates. Work your way up [to] darker chocolates and robust, fully-flavored beers.
WE: Can you suggest some good pairings?
RH: With hoppy beers, use spicy chocolates. Rogue Brewery's hazelnut brown ale with hazelnut or crème brûlée chocolates. Porter is good with milk chocolate. Stout has coffee flavors; get chocolate-covered coffee beans. Another good pairing is chocolate-covered caramels with an Oktoberfest beer.
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