Exploring fascinating flavor combinations

chocolate and beer
© Bayerischer Brauerbund e.V.

Beer and chocolate? Until recently you’d be forgiven for thinking this was something of an odd combination. But with today’s craft beer industry turning out ever more varied brews, young beer sommeliers are discovering some really exciting new flavors with these unlikely companions. At drinktec, visitors can find out all about the latest forays into the combination of cocoa and beer.  

Port and dessert wine have long been the drink of choice to accompany chocolate and confectionery. However with stout and porter growing in popularity, more and more beer and chocolate sommeliers have been combining particularly hoppy and malty beers with delicious chocolate bars and confectionery at their tastings. Many top chefs around the world are now also experimenting with these previously unknown flavor combinations.

First a word of warning: not every beer complements every type of chocolate. Beer sommelier Michael König from Bayreuth in Germany is a master of unusual flavor combinations. For instance, at his tastings you can try a bitter India Pale Ale (IPA) alongside a cranberry-center praline infused with rose oil. He recommends a particular approach when trying these new flavor combinations: Participants should first let the chocolate melt on their tongue, then slowly drink a mouthful of beer and let all the flavors linger on their palate for a short time before swallowing. When the flavors merge it brings out the bitter notes of the IPA and really enhances the rose.

Another of Michael’s favorite combinations is a fruity wheat India Pale Ale (with notes of pineapple, citrus, and banana) enjoyed with milk chocolate with pink peppercorns. This mix really brings together the fruit notes and delicious creamy flavors. He also serves a 7% stout, which has strong hints of chocolate and coffee thanks to the addition of special malts in the brewing process, with a caramel praline and salty licorice syrup. The salty-sweet flavors explode on the taste buds and live long in the memory.

If you’re thinking the combination of beer and cocoa sounds too heavy for your tastes, then think again, as there are some lighter chocolate beers that could change your mind. The creative brewers behind the international craft beer scene are developing more and more beer types using kiln-dried malts to give them a cocoa or chocolate flavor. If you like your chocolate to really pack a punch, then look no further than the Organic Chocolate Stout from the Samuel Smith brewery in the UK or the Choco Porter from Maisel & Friends in Bayreuth.

If you’d like to find out more about these experiments with chocolate flavors, then the trained beer sommeliers in the place2beer area would be very happy to advise. The combination of beer and chocolate will also be a key topic in the presentations and tastings in hall B1. Plus there will certainly be some creative breweries exhibiting that have some surprising chocolate beers for you to taste at their stands. Finally, chocolate stouts are one of the categories in the European Beer Star, one of the most renowned beer competitions in the world. The public tasting session for the awards will be held on September 12 and will offer every drinktec attendee the opportunity to test and rate some highly unusual beers from around the world.



Mareike Hasenbeck

Mareike Hasenbeck is a freelance journalist with her own craft beer blog (Feiner Hopfen), she is also a beer sommelier and an international expert for beer sensory certified by the DLG (German Agricultural Society).