Valentine’s Day isn’t just about pink rose petals and champagne. When you give your sweetheart the compulsory box of chocolates this Valentine’s, you might want to pass her — or him — a pint to go with it instead of the typical glass of wine. Despite the common misconception, wine and chocolates do not play well together. Bitter tannins in dark chocolate coupled with the tannins in wine make this pairing a taste not worth acquiring.
But the combination of beer and chocolates works so well that local Oregon chocolatiers Moonstruck have created the Oregon Craft Brewers Collection, a selection of rich truffles soaked with Oregon’s beloved craft brews, such as brown ale, porter, wheat beer and IPA. Beer fans will regret all those Valentine’s Days spent eating chocolates without craft beer.
Because the perfect partner for a box of chocolates is an appropriate beer, it’s time to dust off tradition and try a new form of intoxication this year. That’s why we present these local Oregon craft beers you can give your loved one, along with that heart-shaped box. If she doesn’t understand, blindfold her for a taste test and she’ll experience a combination that will float her taste buds up to cloud nine. The great thing about beer and chocolates is that it also works just for you. If cupid has left you lonely this year, you can still treat yourself!
When it comes to pairing chocolates with beer, remember to keep the beer well-matched with the sweetness or bitterness of the chocolate you’re using. If you’re sampling bitter dark chocolates, you can wash them down more happily with a sweet, fruity, barrel-aged beer than you can with an equally bitter beer — and vice versa. If you’re still not feeling confident, start by pairing local stouts with coffee-infused chocolates. This is a surefire hit due to the chocolate and coffee aromas in the beer. A milk stout can also be paired with a higher percentage dark chocolate for a strong chocolate hit.
One stout-and-chocolate combination that’s sure to melt your lover’s heart is Fera’wyn’s Artisan Chocolates’ Caramel Macchiato Truffle paired with Great Notion Brewing’s Double Stack American Imperial Stout. Fermented with maple syrup and whole bean Sumatra from the local Clutch Coffee, Double Stack is described as a “breakfast stout.” But you don’t have to save this until the morning after Valentine’s Day — the coffee notes in the Caramel Macchiato Truffle mingle with those in the Double Stack, revealing a sweet maple and caramel combination that will leave you salivating.
If you’re stopping by Great Notion Brewing anyway, you might also wish to try pairing the award-winning Salty Caramel Truffle by Dolcetta Artisan Sweets with Great Notion’s IPA, Juice Box, which has enough crispness and hoppy bitterness to perfectly complement the sticky-sweet truffle.
In contrast, pairing CocoTutti’s Blood Orange Truffle with Boneyard Beer Company’s Notorious Triple IPA introduces a sweetness stemming from the citrus character of the triple IPA, enhanced by the inherent tartness of the blood orange. This combination is seductive enough to make anyone weak at the knees.
If you’re looking for something a little more crowd-pleasing though, try pairing CocoTutti’s Almond and Caramel Florentines with the Mogli American Imperial Porter from Caldera Brewing Company. The richness and earthiness of this porter melts when mingled with the confection’s buttery and chewy chocolate and nut clusters.
Another excellent partnership forms with the Smitten: Artisan Truffles’ Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee Truffle with Hose by de Garde Brewing. Hose is a Leipzig-style gose, dry-hopped, then aged in oak barrels and infused with fresh coriander and citrus peel. The sweetness of the vanilla nicely balances the salty note of the Leipzig gose. It also acts as a neutral backdrop to accentuate the fruity, floral and herbal aromas characterizing Hose.
You may have noticed that we aren’t offering any suggestions for white beer pairings with chocolate. There’s a good reason: the high acidity in many white beers counteracts many pleasant flavors in the chocolates. But luckily, a recent trend for lower pH white ales and lagers has prompted Oregon’s own de Garde Brewery to experiment. Many of their craft beers boast low acidity — de Garde’s The Frais is an American Wild Ale aged in oak barrels and is sweet and smooth enough to pair well with chocolates, especially those with citrus notes.
These pairings are only meant to get you started. Don’t save eating chocolates with beer for just Valentine’s Day. Beer and chocolate is fun all year long, especially if you have a partner who likes chocolates but hasn’t got into craft beer yet. If you do want to try creating your own pairings, here are some simple tips for successful combinations.
First, start your tasting with lighter beers and then progress to heavier and darker ones. Do not serve your beer and chocolate straight from the fridge — instead let them come to room temperature. This gentle warming will unlock all the flavors and aromas in both the chocolate and the beer. Also, try tasting the beer first and then eating the chocolate — then switch it up and sample the chocolate before sipping the beer. You may be surprised at how much flavor variance you could discover when trying the combinations in different ways.
Whatever order you find is your favorite, beer and chocolates are sure to melt together in your mouth like two Valentine’s lovers. •