Tag Archives: tasting notes

What to Drink at Easter: How to Pair Beer and Chocolate

Easter isn’t too far away, and it is time to talk about two of my favourite things: beer and chocolate.

Much like wine, people are starting to appreciate that beer can pair nicely with food. In fact, the right beer can markedly improve the food that you’re eating!

Both beer and chocolate have so much to offer outside of what is their respective norms. Beyond a block of Cadbury’s milk chocolate is a whole spectrum of smooth and sweet, sharp and bitter, and flavours of fruit and spice. If you’re eating something special, make sure you have a suitable accompaniment.

Milk Chocolate: Stout or Imperial Stout

Either of these two stout varieties would pair with a sweet chocolate. The bolder flavours of roasted coffee and bitter chocolate itself will balance out the creamy sweetness of the chocolate.

Try: Woolshed Firehouse Coffee Stout, or Cavalier Imperial Stout

Dark Chocolate: Dubbel or Scotch Ale

Dark chocolate often has a biting or harsh bitterness, especially when you’re over 80% cacao. To balance this out, go with a strong malty beer that isn’t bitter itself. Dubbels and Scotch Ales tend to be smooth and strong with rich fruity flavours.

Try: Holgate Double Trouble, or Red Hill Scotch Ale

Fruit/Nut Chocolate: Porter or Brown Ale

The light roasty flavours from both Porters and Brown Ales make them perfect to combine with the sweetness from nuts or fruit in your chocolate.

Try: Kooinda Milk Porter, or Prickly Moses Tailpipe

All Chocolate: Barley Wine

This might seem like a copout, but it is true. Barley Wines are the dessert win of the beer world. They have a huge range of flavours but tend to incorporate everything that pairs well with chocolate! High ABV means that you’re best off sipping and savouring slowly between bites of chocolate.

Must try: HopDog Super Beast 2014

There you have it! I’d encourage you to exbeeriment yourself and find what works best for you. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’ll be drinking this Easter!

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The Anatomy of a Beer Tasting

One of the first requirements we came up with when sitting down and planning our craft beer store was to sample each and every beer that we stock. It isn’t just about getting to try an overwhelming quantity of beer, it has a pretty important purpose: To provide a consistent description that you can rely on.

beer flight

When reviewing the descriptions of most beers, it is pretty obvious that they lie somewhere between brewers notes and marketing spin. To cut through all of that, we came up with model for our notes:

  • Beers are sampled around 8°C, warmer for dark beers
  • Appearance: colour, head and carbonation (if visible)
  • Aromas: hops, malt and yeast are the normal traits, but there can be some off-notes too (cardboard, wet dog, etc)
  • Flavour: Initial flavours through to the finish and the mouthfeel
  • Finish with a short overview about some of the positives of the beer

There is a little disclaimer though. Everyone’s tastes are different and sometimes aromas or flavours are misidentified. We’re still learning, and we’ll continue to learn more as we get new brews through the store. As always, feedback is welcomed!

As a personal note, one of the things that I’ve loved about the whole process is how my beer preferences have changed! I’ve been a big fan off hoppy beers like a strong Pale Ale or an IPA, and I’ve had the opportunity to try beers that I wouldn’t normally buy at a bar or bottle-o. I now keep a decent selection of lighter beers in the fridge, like Moon Dog Love Tap and Boatrocker Hoppbier.

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