Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Chocolate and Beer; Must We Really Keep Trying?

Hotel Chocolate Pale Cocoa Beer - the colour isn't what you'd expect
Someone keeps deciding to try mixing chocolate with alcohol. And so, here am I, every now and then, writing about it. I don’t mind when it’s harmonious marriages like Thornton’s Chocolate Liqueur or The Secret chocolate wine, but there are other things where I just don’t see the point, and can only assume it’s part of some attempt to part a fool and my money, because, as I'm sure I've said before, beer and chocolate don't really go together - unless both are Belgian. And this obsession with constantly trying to put them together is akin to they way people keep putting chilli and chocolate together, and it just isn't necessary. In my opinion.
This week’s initial focus is Hotel Chocolat’s Pale Cocoa Beer. It’s 4.9% and brewed by Brewshed Brewery in Bury St Edmunds. I was given this as part of a birthday present, all of the items of which were from Hotel Chocolat. You’ll be able to read about some of the other items elsewhere on the blog.
Anyway, this particular product is obviously aimed at providing a gift to someone who likes beer. I can’t imagine a beer drinker actually buying this for themselves. Can you? I would actually be prepared to bet that at least 9 out of 10 people who have logged this beer on Untappd, received this as a gift.
I don’t have a problem with that. Were you getting the idea that I did? At the very least, it’s a distinct beer to add to my log, and to a geek like me, something fairly exciting to receive. So what am I whittering on about? Is it no good?
Well, let me tell you; on the absolute contrary, it’s very good indeed. I really enjoyed it, and scored it a much better than average 4 out of 5. Right? Ok, so here’s the thing; it doesn’t taste of chocolate. So… was the chocolate necessary? Does it make it better than say, if the same beer was made without chocolate?
I haven’t logged any other beers from the Brewshed Brewery, but a quick look at Untappd suggests their output is interesting. One in particular I’d like to get my hands on is the Rioja Porter, which is matured in old Lan rioja oak casks.
As for the Pale Cocoa beer; it is brewed with cocoa pulp, so presumably that does have some influence. It could be a while before I’m able to determine the effects one way or the other. This is a nice beer though.
While we’re on it, we may as well have a shuft at a couple more.
Cocoa Hops
Cocoa Hops is a 4.4% porter from The Chocolate CafĂ© in Ramsbottom. A loose pun on the popular child’s breakfast cereal, it is brewed by the local Irwell Works Brewery – a fine example of local business collaboration. I scored it only 2.5 out of 5 as I felt it was a bit thin, and I could barely detect any chocolate influence. It was nice to try though.
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
Double chocolate. Two words that in combination will make a lady’s seat moisten. That’s all very well for ice cream. And cookies. But what about beer? Well this is right up Mrs Cake’s street, and she absolutely loved it. I found it merely average, in spite of a generous 5.2% ABV, scoring it 3 out of 5.
Did it taste of chocolate? Well, probably, in a slightly bitter way.
Finally, I’ve had a quick look at Untappd and found three other chocolate beers that I’ve tried. These came up when I typed “chocolate” into the search field. Here’s how I scored them:
Chocolate Snap (4.9%) by Offbeat Brewery – 3.5/5
Old Tom Chocolate (6%) by Robinsons Brewery – 3/5
Triple Chocoholic (4.8%) by Saltaire Brewery – 3.5/5
Then, when I typed “cocoa”, the two beers that started this post came up, along with Thornbridge’s Cocoa Wonderland (6.8%), which I scored 4/5.
That leaves Thornbridge and Hotel Chocolat topping the chocolate beer league table, so well done to them. And that’s going to have to do for now, I’m afraid. Usually if I see a chocolate beer, I buy it for Mrs Cake, cos she absolutely loves that shit. She lets me have a taste, but given how little I manage to write about a full glass, can you imagine how little I’d have to say about a sip? Yeh, not very much. I will try to glean further impressions as time goes on, with a view to a follow up post at some time in the future, but in the meantime there are all kinds of other things to be getting on with drinking. So join me next week, when I’ll be telling you about some more of that.
And for now; must we really keep trying to combine chocolate and beer? Ok; if you must.


  1. I agree Neil, there are already beers that taste chocolatey without having to have chocolate added, I've had two just this week - Scary Man from the Long Man Brewery and Lancaster Black from the Lancaster Brewery, ok so there are coffee flavours in there too, but so what? If I want some chocolate, I'll buy some chocolate, I don't think hmmm I could murder a chocolate flavoured beer! Why they keep trying this is anyone's guess, they should give up and concentrate on something useful, like X-Ray Specs for instance, why is this taking so long??

    1. Thanks Paul. You're absolutely right; there are beers that taste chocolatey without chocolate. I remember the night I learned to like Guinness, thinking that it tasted chocolatey... that makes me think about this whole thing slightly differently, and may have an influence on my writing the next time I post something on chocolate beer. Thanks again!