By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
In the month defined by love, passion and presidents’ birthdays, one of the most commonly purchased gifts is chocolate. The sweet treat can be found in many forms, including the ever-popular heart-shaped box filled with an assortment of varieties. That’s all well and good, but the best gift for the beer lovers is, of course, a silky chocolate stout.
Chocolate comes in numerous forms, including liquid, powder and solid. There are also different types, from extra-bitter dark chocolate to white — each along the spectrum providing different aromatics and tasting sensations. For the purposes of brewing, the best rule is to always avoid ingredients with high fat content. Milk chocolate has a high percentage of the cocoa butter back into it along with sugar to give the finished produce a less-bitter finish. This cocoa butter can go rancid in a brew and does not ferment out. That’s not to say to avoid chocolate with any percentage of cocoa butter -- just be sure to not go overboard and end up with an oil slick on top of your brew.
Nibs and Powder
The most commonly used forms of chocolate for brewing are cocoa nibs and cocoa powder. Cocoa nibs are the rawest state of chocolate before anything else is added. The beans are dried and fermented, similar to coffee in order to unleash the natural oils and flavors. Cocoa powder is then just the nibs ground up. Nibs tend to be easiest to work with because they can easily be filtered out of the brew. While they still have a small amount of natural cocoa butter in them, it shouldn’t have any adverse effects on your finished product.
Malt and Milk Sugar
When building your stout recipe, keep in mind that you aren’t limited to achieving that chocolate flavor and aroma from the actual chocolate. Malting companies do a very good job of simulating the taste in their product without the added cost of using pure nibs. Your chocolate beer does not have to be bitter either. Avoiding malt with a very high SRM will prevent the brew from being too acerbic. Another way to enhance both sweetness and mouthfeel is by incorporating milk sugar. Powdered lactose is a non-fermentable sugar that you can add for a silky-smooth finish. Like every ingredient, take care not to use too much since overdoing it can result in a beer that’s overly sweet.
When to Add
Once you’ve decided what kind of chocolate to use and how much, the next step is determining when to add it to the brew. Since chocolate has some very delicate oils that can evaporate, it’s best to not add it early in the boil. But putting in some of the chocolate — about a third of the total amount — at the end of that process can boost the flavor of the beer. The remainder should go in the secondary or even placed inside a bag that’s kept in the keg. If you’re using lactose as well, add that during the last five minutes of the boil since it’s a sugar and can caramelize. Stir well to avoid burning.
Whether you are planning a romantic evening this Valentine’s Day or just happen to be celebrating a three-day weekend because of Presidents Day, enjoying a tasty homebrewed chocolate stout will be more satisfying than eating a box of chocolates.
Chocolate Milk Stout [Extract]
Chocolate Milk Stout [All Grain]
By Andi Prewitt
Of the Oregon Beer Growler
It’s easy to tell when a novel flavor has arrived — you can spot it everywhere. For example, Sriracha, the tongue-tingling sauce with the distinct red rooster on the bottle, has exploded in popularity during the last few years and found its way into an interesting array of products — from Lay’s chips to popcorn, candy canes to lollipops, and even bitters and beer. When a flavor is all the rage, you can safely bet that Moonstruck’s master chocolatier was incorporating it into his confections years before it was cool. However, Julian Rose has discovered that one of the problems with being an innovator is that not everyone is ready to embrace a new taste.
“Historically, here at Moonstruck we’ve done stuff ahead of trends,” he explained. “I did a Sriracha truffle in 2008. Virtually nobody knew about Sriracha. I thought it was a great kind of cool flavor — a little bit spicy, tomato-y. So we did that and then we saw that we had to explain to people what Sriracha is.”
Let’s just say the truffle with the foreign name didn’t fly off store shelves. But Rose’s latest experiment has found the right audience at just the right time. The Moonstruck Oregon Craft Brewers Collection is selling well with both beer lovers and chocolate aficionados who wouldn’t normally lift a pint to their lips. While the bottle top-shaped treats made their debut last September, it’s hard to resist the splurge of chocolate during a month that’s practically defined by sweet offerings and significant others. And in a world of imperfect pairings, it’s worth highlighting the union of beer and chocolate this February, along with how they came to live happily ever after, together.
Ideas come to fruition at Moonstruck in a modestly sized room tucked away in the bottom floor of the chocolate maker’s Portland headquarters. Rose’s office — part kitchen, part lab — has a view of the factory on one side, where he can see a “prototype” launched on a larger scale. To the other side, a wall of windows reveals one of the best views in the city: the repeating Gothic arches of the St. Johns Bridge. That pistachio-tinted span often serves as inspiration for Rose when he develops new confections. He described how objects — both mundane and profound — can spark ideas.
“I leave my mind very open, so I can see a sculpture and it’s going to trigger something. I can see a little egg and it’s going to trigger something else,” he said while gesturing to some new Easter-themed candy under development.
The concept for the Craft Brewers Collection came in a similar fashion — one day he looked down at a dozen colorfully arranged brews.
“I had a party at home and, you know, I’ve opened a case of beer many times and when I opened — so now more than a year ago around Christmas — I opened the box, a seasonal box with four different beers,” Rose described. “And that’s what triggered, I’m like, that’s my hook. I need to make it look like a beer cap. And that was the beginning of about six months of work.”
Up until that moment, Rose had been kicking around ideas for a follow-up to his wildly successful Oregon Distillers Collection — the best-selling assortment that Moonstruck has ever done. He’d made a few beer truffles before, but the simple, brown squares were missing that “Wow!” factor.
“There was no — what we call in the business — no hook,” Rose said.
But he found his attention getter for the new collection the day he hosted that party. Rose then got to work on the sample — he used a tube-like mold that’s tapered on one end to mimic the shape of a bottleneck for the truffles, secured the tops with real bottle caps as placeholders for the chocolate versions he’d later create, and placed them in a box that opened with top flaps just like a case of beer. The master chocolatier with more than three decades of experience in the sweets industry then made some house calls. That’s right — Rose didn’t send some marketing rep or salesperson. He personally visited four different breweries — Deschutes, Full Sail, Rogue and Widmer — to pursue a partnership. It didn’t take much convincing. Everyone was on board. Rose had just one moderate obstacle once he got the unanimous “Yes.” He wasn’t sure he could produce the truffles.
“I sold the idea that I could make it without knowing if I could make it!” Rose laughed. “It was a great creative incentive to make it happen, because now I saw that people were excited with it.”
Rose ended up sending an actual bottle cap to a chocolate mold maker who was then able to manufacture sheets featuring rows and rows of crown-shaped depressions. Cap colors were carefully matched to what’s used by the breweries in order to silk screen images with cocoa butter on the flat surfaces. But a “stop-the-presses” moment occurred not once, but twice during the process. Widmer ended up changing its Hefeweizen cap from gold to black initially, and later Deschutes altered the shape of its logo from an oval to a circle while shifting colors as well. Fortunately, the requests came before anything was finalized. All of the tops so closely resemble those that seal the actual bottles, people aren’t sure you can actually eat them.
“And that’s the No. 1 question we have when people see it for the first time. They think it’s a real beer cap,” Rose said, emphasizing they are, indeed, edible. “You can pop the cap with your teeth and your dentist is not going to freak out.”
Consumers may also wonder whether Rose has recreated the flavor of the beers with other ingredients or if full kegs are part of the recipe. The answer will likely please beer geeks.
“So it’s got a very organic approach to it that it’s actually made with the given beer,” said Rose. “It’s not flavor-enhanced or any kind of masked. It’s the beer.”
Rose uses a beer reduction, boiling it down to eliminate the alcohol and carbonation, which raised some questions early on.
“And a couple of brewers were like, ‘Isn’t that, like, very bitter?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, but the chocolate is sweet, so it all balances out.’”
Rose developed about three versions of the chocolates, taking them to the owners, brewers and marketing employees for taste tests. He explained that their descriptions and feedback were valuable and allowed him to return to his kitchen and create something that accurately represents the flavor profiles of the beer. For example, since Hefeweizen is often served with a slice of lemon, Widmer asked Rose to add a touch of citrus oil.
“So it’s not obvious,” Rose said, “but it’s there. And it reflects closely what your experience would be with a Hefe, with chocolate of course.”
If you could taste Oregon, the truffle collection would stand in as a pretty delicious summary. The featured ingredients, such as hazelnuts, hops, chocolate and craft beer, are also part of the state’s identity. One of Rose’s favorite aspects of this endeavor was creating something that represented the area.
“What I discovered with pairing up with these four companies is all of them and us [Moonstruck] were basically founded within a five-year span,” he shared. “So all of these breweries started in the late ‘80s and we started in the early ‘90s, so I realized these were the pioneers also. These were the people that fought for having more liberal laws and more distribution and more tasting rooms, so they’re kind of the fathers of craft brewing in Oregon. And they happen to be great people to work with, so it was a fun project overall and I think it’s very Oregon.”
Rose expressed some concern about beer drinkers questioning or perhaps even criticizing the collaboration with four of the state’s larger breweries instead of up-and-comers. In addition to serving as a nod to some of the industry’s groundbreakers, working with established businesses helped launch the project. Rose had several more breweries in mind if any of the participants had declined. He sounded enthusiastic about future editions of the collection with different beer makers and mentioned that a second round of truffles could possibly be developed next year.
Brewers often say their profession is a mix of art and science and Rose can draw parallels to that description of work. Consistency, of course, is key and part of the science in beer and chocolate. Creating the ganache for the truffle is all about precision, too. Unlike a restaurant chef, a pinch of this and a splash of that won’t lead to a good product “because percentage, proportion, and speed and temperature all play a little role in executing this little filling, over and over, well,” Rose explained. Additionally, he believes that both Moonstruck and brewers pride themselves on taking advantage of the best ingredients and, when possible, locally sourced ingredients.
Collaboration is nothing new in the world of craft beer, and Rose also adheres to the ethos that sharing and transparency only make you better.
“Well, No. 1 for me — there’s no real big secret. Years and years ago, I realized that everyone has access to the same ingredients,” Rose said of him and other chocolatiers. “They can buy the same, virtually the same, chocolate. They can buy the same cream. They can buy the same butter. And what makes my chocolate so good — well, it’s the workmanship. It’s the knowledge. It’s the good palate.”
He went on to say the same applies to brewers. Despite their ability to obtain similar adjuncts, the beers don’t turn out identical. Learning from others and watching innovation forces everyone to work a little harder — at least those who are truly passionate about their craft. Rose acknowledged that he could just rest on his laurels, but that would be pretty dull.
As Feb. 14 approaches, Rose’s workdays will get a little busier. It’s one of several times throughout the year where chocolate is in high demand. When Rose used to teach, he looked into the research behind the chocolate/romance link. He posited that women interact with and experience chocolate differently from men.
“And you can easily prove it. You can open a box … you offer it and a guy’s going to take all of it and put it in his mouth and go, ‘Ah, it’s great,’” Rose said. “You offer it to a woman, she’s going to bite a little piece and then roll the eyes [with pleasure] and it’s like passion. It’s sensual. It’s flavor. It evokes emotion more in women.”
So what will the man who makes so many Valentine’s Day gifts for others be doing on one of the most romantic evenings of the year?
“Probably not eating chocolate,” he laughed. “I shouldn’t say that, but probably not. I’m not sure. In our world, when it’s the actual holiday, that’s our downtime. So I’ll probably just not go to a restaurant, not go out. I’ll go out before Valentine’s or after — I’m not stuck on the date — and just kind of relax and have a beer or two and take it easy.”
Relaxing and having a beer or two — now that sounds like a date any craft lover can appreciate.
By Emily Engdahl
It’s a wet and rainy (typical) winter morning in Portland. Entering the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe on NW 23rd Avenue, I’m welcomed by rows and rows of chocolate truffles, confectionary creativity, and the warm smile of Chris Crabb, Oregon’s Craft Beer Sweetheart.
Crabb is an integral part of several beery endeavors, breweries, and fests across the state - and one of the kindest and hardest working women in the industry. I had an opportunity to chat with her about her roles in celebrating Oregon beer, being a go-getter, and parenting a teenager. Despite myriad challenges and the hard work involved in balancing a successful career, family life, and hobbies (Crabb has exquisite taste in antiques and collectables, creating vintage looking family photo postcards along with her husband and son each holiday season), she is ever cheerful, always professional, and a pure delight.
You are one of the most important figures in current Oregon Beer culture - how did you begin working in the industry?
First, I don’t consider myself all that important, but I truly appreciate the compliment! I stumbled into this industry by luck. I was working for a PR firm in the early 1990s, and it leased office space to Gill Campbell, an event promoter who owned Campbell Productions. Gill was looking for someone to do PR for her client, the Oregon Brewers Festival, and hired the firm; I was assigned as the account manager. 1995 was my first official OBF. That same year, Gill and Art Larrance started the Winter Ale Festival (today the Holiday Ale Festival) and I worked on that one as well. Gill went looking for her own office space in 1996 and took me with her. I continued to work for both festivals and started picking up other beer accounts along the way (including working eight years for BridgePort). She (Gill) closed shop in 2003 to run the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif., and the beer clients stayed with me. That was when I started Crabbsoup Public Relations.
You work on several fests around Oregon - can you tell us which ones they are?
I work on four big festivals, and promote several smaller ones that are brewery specific. The big ones are The Oregon Garden Brewfest (April 25-27, 2014) in Silverton; the North American Organic Brewers Festival (June 26-29, 2014) at Overlook Park in North Portland; the Oregon Brewers Festival (July 23-27, 2014) at Waterfront Park in Portland; and the Holiday Ale Festival (December 3-7, 2014) in Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland.
We all know you as the one who knows EVERYTHING about Oregon beer fests - what kinds of things do you do for the fests, and what is your favorite task or activity surrounding fests?
I have different roles for different festivals. This summer will mark my 20th year with the Oregon Brewers Festival, and my role has increased as time has gone on; currently, my job description for that festival runs four pages long! In a nutshell, I handle pre and on-site communication with the brewers, the vendors, the food vendors and the public; I do all the advertising, social media, public relations, posters, work with the mobile app developers and update the website. I manage all aspects of the brunch and the parade; I gather all pieces for and edit the program; and I am onsite every hour of every day, from 5 a.m. on the opening day doing morning TV until 8 p.m. on the last day, tearing down. While onsite, I handle media opportunities and check in with vendors, but mostly I operate the Information Booth. I decided we needed one a few years back, and figured I knew enough about the festival to answer just about any question thrown at me. (Number one question at the OBF? Where’s the ATM.)
My role with the North American Organic Brewers Festival is very similar to the above, plus obtaining all the permits for the event. My role with the Oregon Garden Brewfest is strictly public relations, which keeps it simple; and my role with the Holiday Ale Festival is somewhere in-between, mostly PR and social media but also communicating with brewers and producing the program.
My favorite? I love working with the brewers – who wouldn’t, they are talented, witty, irreverent, amazing! – but I also love working with the public. With the festivals, I often act as a concierge, recommending hotels and restaurants and pubs and beers. I am a Portland native and incredibly proud of this town. I want everyone who comes here to not only enjoy the beer, but the entire city and all that it offers.
Which festival is your personal favorite to attend?
That’s like asking which of my children is my favorite! (By the way, I only have one child, so that is an easy answer.) Each of the festivals I promote offers something different to love. The Oregon Garden Brewfest is held in such a beautiful setting, and they let you walk around the gardens with your beer! It has a really sweet, small town community feel to it. I love the NAOBF for its park setting and its mellow vibe. Very family friendly, it’s as if everyone there is having a picnic on the grass with a beer in hand. The OBF is great people watching, but my absolute favorite part of that festival has to be the kick off parade - it’s become an amazing tradition. And the Holiday Ale Festival is so festive, held in the heart of the city in the winter with the clear tents that allow you to see the Christmas lights above.
Do you like beer? What kinds? Are you learning to like new styles?
I love beer! Although I am very picky about styles. I have a certain palate and know what I like. I’m not a fan of malty beers, I find them too sweet. Also not a fan of lagers. I used to be a self proclaimed hophead, but the older I get, the bitterer the beers seem to taste. These days, I lean toward a lovely non-Imperial IPA, a tart sour, or a chocolate stout. Stout is truly my new favorite, which is great as it pairs so well with the dark winter months. I’m also becoming a bit addicted to ciders.
What do you love about Oregon beer culture?
I love the camaraderie of it. It truly is an industry where rivals are friendly and supportive of one another. They help each other out, and you can’t say that about most other businesses. I also love the fact that new breweries open all the time in Oregon, yet rarely do they close. The beer lovers in Oregon go out of their way to help these places not only survive, but flourish. Soon, it won’t be a Starbucks on every corner, it will be a craft brewery. I also love the reporting of our craft beer scene - we have a ton of beer and event bloggers in this town, and I’ve grown to develop really great relationships with so many of them. As a PR person, that’s my job, but I would count many of these media among my friends.
What do you do for fun?
I’m self-employed, I work 24/7! Fun for me is spending time with my husband and son. And planning our next trip to Maui, which is where we love to be.
Do you have any funny stories about working on the beer fests for us? Ever had a keg not show up until the last possible second? Any other YIKES! moments?
We’ve had many kegs not show until the last possible second; which may not sound like a big deal, but when they arrive on a tractor trailer rig in the middle of Naito Parkway and you have thousands of people on the festival grounds - it is! Unfortunately for the readers, most of the stories I have either can’t be shared or shouldn’t be! Oddly enough, they usually involve porta potties..
You run PR/Marketing for several breweries around town. Which breweries are you associated with?
I am lucky enough to work with Lompoc Brewing, Cascade Brewing, Raccoon Lodge & Brew Pub, Kells Irish Pub, and the newly opened Growlers Hawthorne. I also do project work for Sierra Nevada Brewing. And believe it or not, I have non-beer related PR clients as well, including the amazing people at Tea Chai Te, the Oregon Garden/Oregon Garden Resort and Portland International Raceway.
It’s 6 p.m. on a “typical” Tuesday night - where do we find you?
Typing one last email before making dinner and helping my son with homework. Because as much as I think I have the greatest job in the world, I am a mom, first and always.
By Emily Engdahl
Looking for delicious combinations to tempt your tastebuds? Combine a celebration of Stout Month with the plethora of chocolates available from local artisans for February and Valentine’s Day. We perused the cases at Moonstruck Chocolate’s NW 23rd Avenue location with Oregon’s Craft Beer Sweetheart, Chris Crabb. Truffles and bars - from milk to bittersweet - there’s a chocolate to suit every taste, and one to match beautifully with this month’s star; stouts! Look for these and other seasonal stout releases at your local brewer and raise a pint to Stout Month!
Kells Brewpub | Kells Irish Stout | 4.7% ABV
Notes of coffee and chocolate with a mild toffee sweetness, finishes dry with just a hint of tartness. Look for it on nitro.
* Pair with Moonstruck Peanut Butter Sea Salt Caramel Eclipse Truffle
Lompoc Brewing | Stout Out Loud | 4.9% ABV
This pitch black ale has strong flavors of roasted coffee, chocolate and raisins balanced by acidic dark malts. Ends with a creamy, smooth finish.
* Pair with Moonstruck House Spirits Distillery Liqueur Truffle
Cascade Brewing | Diesel Barrel Aged Stout | 12% ABV
Aromas of dark sweet chocolate, vanilla, bourbon and molasses. Dark coffee and milk chocolate intermingle with roasted malts and dark molasses to finish with slight Bourbon heat and a lingering sweet dark chocolate flavor.
* Pair with Moonstruck Molasses Plantation Caramel Chew
Pints Brewing | Steel Bridge Stout | 5.2% ABV
Rich and chewy, this robust stout is girdered together with Midnight Wheat, Black Prinz, Roasted Barley, Special B and Chocolate malts. Jet black with a thick brown head, loaded with espresso, coffee and rich malt flavors.
* Pair with Moonstruck Mayan Milk Chocolate Bar
Laurelwood | Organic Portland Roasting Espresso Stout | 6.3% ABV
In collaboration with Portland Roasting, a base stout is complemented by cold steeped Organic Guatemalan and Ethiopian blend, accentuating the roast, chocolate and coffee flavors. A smooth dark ale with layers of dark, rich roast flavor.
* Pair with Moonstruck Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Almond Bar
pFriem | Belgian Stout | 11% ABV
Dark as midnight with aromatics of coffee and cardamom, the complexity of bold flavors of cocoa and cinnamon are only upstaged by its sheer ease of drinkability—a rarity with more common stouts.
* Pair with Moonstruck Sea Salt Cajeta Caramel
Boneyard | Backbone | 6% ABV
Rich, creamy stout combining three of our favorite things; espresso, beer & chocolate. Boneyard and Backporch Coffee Roasters collide, creating a flavorful & aromatic ale using cold extraction espresso. Breakfast or dinner...It’s up to you!!
* Pair with Moonstruck Italia Espresso Truffle
Boneyard | Suge Knite | 13% ABV
This imperial stout pours black with a dark creamy head. Rich and bold with flavors of oak, whiskey, molasses and dark fruits, it is surprisingly smooth and drinkable for such a big gnarly beer.
* Pair with Moonstruck Wild Huckleberry Truffle
BricktownE | Rock Steady Stout | 6.9% ABV
it’s a foreign extra wheat stout served on Nitro. Roasty, creamy and slightly chocolatey, make up the tasting notes.
* Pair with Moonstruck Extra Bittersweet Black Cat Truffle
Caldera | Old Growth Imperial Stout | 8.8% ABV
Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Growth Imperial Stout, aged for three months in two different types of Bourbon Barrels.
* Pair with Moonstruck Dark Chocolate Tumbled Beer Berries
McMenamin’s Concordia Brewery | Black Sea Imperial | 9.5% ABV
Russian Imperial made in honor of this year’s winter Olympics! This stout has huge roasty, chocolate and burnt malt flavors, well balanced with choice hop addition.
* Pair with Moonstruck Grenada Truffle
Migration | Bootstrap Imperial Stout | 10.1% ABV
This dark, full bodied stout has been aged with bourbon, oak and maple syrup. Forward rich dark
chocolate and roasted notes paired with subtle hints of vanilla and smoke linger on the nose and palate. The supple maple sweetness and woody tannins lend to the depth of this well balanced imperial.
* Pair with Moonstruck House Spirits Distillery Krogstad Aquavit Truffle
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.