Beer and chocolate are to differing degrees both bitter and sweet…flavor-wise they’re almost joined at the hip…And the fact that they pair so well shouldn’t surprise anyone especially when one looks closer at how they’re both made.
Beer is in most cases a balance of bitter and sweet. The bitter provided by the use of hops in the brewing process and the sweet the result of malts… A sweetish beer leans heavily on its malt backbone. A bitter beer its hops.
And in a similar fashion a chocolate’s taste reflects the balance of bitter and sweet.
The key element in chocolate is the Cacao beans, or more simply cacao. Cocoa beans are the basis of all chocolates and cocoa solids are commonly used to brew different beer styles…
Food 24 describes symbiotic alchemy chocolate and beer this way…
“Cacao beans are very bitter on their own but when tempered with sugar and fat we get chocolate. In beer, malt is sweet and hops are bitter and when combined in the brewing process we get a pint of liquid gold.”
“Another two things that the chocolate and beer share is fermentation and roasting. Once cacao beans are picked and cleaned they are left to ferment. The fermentation process tones down the inherent bitterness and develops the chocolate flavor we know and love. From there the beans are dried and roasted.”
“Depending on the intensity of the roast, the beans will have different flavor profiles. Lighter roasts will enhance the floral and fruity flavors of the cacao while darker roasts intensify the caramel and coffee-like flavor.”
Like the cocoa bean’s evolution into becoming chocolate, barley’s journey to the brew is one of stages…
“In beer, the barley is malted…to allow the starches to convert to fermentable sugars during the brew. After the germinating, the barley is dried and roasted. Roasting can range from a light toast to pitch black. “
Just as with the cocoa bean, malted barley can also be roasted which caramelizes its sugars and enriches its caramel aspects. And just as with barley the intensity of the roast produces different aromas and flavors with cocoa.
So beer and chocolate…Together? Are you kidding?
The sweet and bitter reality is that they are soul mates.
Which explains why those chocolate stouts can be so irresistible…and candy bars that incorporate beer recipes often catch our attention.