Romance is in the air and in the chocolate beer
Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.
The same goes for chocolate beer. The taste in chocolate beer can be subtle, sweet, bitter, or encompass a little bit of it all. A bouquet of dark or sweet chocolate may be present but it doesn't necessarily derive from a chocolate source. One of the four main ingredients in beer is malted barley.
The length of time barley is roasted may result in chocolaty undertones. In fact, many beers take on subtle notes of chocolate — both in taste and aroma — without the actual ingredient ever being used. To create a more profound taste or smell of chocolate, brewers also will add actual cocoa products. Depending on when chocolate is incorporated into the brewing cycle will determine the intensity of the aroma or taste in the final product.
In addition, some brewers will add lactose sugar to the brew which creates a creamy sweetness typically found in chocolate candy bars. Cacao nibs, cocoa powder and chocolate syrup are among ways brewers use chocolate to flavor their beer and seduce our palates.
Cacao nibs are the most popular brewing material. These bitter nibs are part of the cacao bean that has been removed from the shell, fermented and roasted. Cacao nibs are packed with antioxidants and mood-enhancing chemicals.
In fact, Montezuma, the Aztec ruler of Mexico during the 1500s, would drink a cacao flavored beverage prior to visiting his harem. Montezuma believed wholeheartedly in the aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate.
Cacao beans were even used as the principal form of currency during the Aztec Empire. It ranked above gold dust which proves that at one time money really did grow on trees.
Next time you're considering the romantic gesture of a box of chocolates, ponder an elixir of assorted chocolate beers instead. You'll be delighted with what you get.
Mark Brewer is a Tribune-Review contributing writer and the author and illustrator of "Brewology, An Illustrated Dictionary for Beer Lovers."
Pennsylvania Brewing Co.
Chocolate Milk Stout (ABV 5.5 %). Pours dark brown with a tan head. Aromas of roasted malt and semi-sweet chocolate. Use of lactose gives local Betsy Ann chocolate a creaminess with notes of roasted malt and caramel. Moderately carbonated with a light to medium body. Finishes with a slight bitterness and lingering chocolate flavor on the back end.
DuClaw Brewing Co.
Sweet Baby Jesus
American Porter (ABV 6.5%). Black in color with a dark tan rocky head. Aromas are roasted malt, chocolate and peanut butter. Sweet and creamy flavors of chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and peanut butter with the addition of a slight hop bitterness. Full body, mildly carbonated with lingering notes of chocolate and peanut butter.
Southern Tier Brewing Co.
Choklat (Blackwater Series)
Imperial Stout (ABV 10%). Pours black with a tan head. Big chocolate nose with roasted malt and a hint of vanilla. Tastes of sweet creamy chocolate milkshake with a trace of vanilla. Presence of ethnol alcohol is minimal considering the high ABV. Full-bodied beer with light carbonation. Finishes with a slight hop bitterness and a creamy chocolate taste.
Mint Double Decadent
American Brown Ale (ABV 8%). Pours dark brown with a tan head. Aromas of chocolate and mint are present. Tastes like a thin mint cookie with big chocolate and mint flavors. Mildly carbonted with medium to heavy body. Overall very sweet with a cool mint finish.
Oscar Blues Grill and Bar
Death By Coconut
English Porter (ABV 6.5%). Dark brown opaque color with a light tan head. Aromas of coconut, chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch. Flavors of chocolate, coconut, caramel and vanilla. Light body with medium carbonation. Dry finish with subtle hop bitterness.
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