I’m trying to put together 3 chocolate/beer pairings for my husband for father’s day. I’d love some suggestions. What are your favorites?
Chris Brennan of Pump Street Bakery makes chocolate with rye and sourdough bread crumbs in them and I have found that these can complement the bitterness of many hops. Another way to go is Milk Boy’s Pine Essence bar. It sounds strange but it can work because the piney resinous quality of the essence (which is what works with the piney resinous quality of some hops) is not overpowering.
There are many hops that add a lot of fruit so you might want to try chocolates that have citrus fruit notes in them. But not orange. I’d reserve orange for an unfiltered weiss (wheat) bier. Unless there is orange in the beer. Orange-flavored chocolate can also work with beers that have cardamom and related soft-spice flavor notes (clove, cinnamon) but those are not likely to be found in IPAs.
The key to even approaching a good pairing is to get the chocolate completely melted and fluid in the mouth before sipping the beer (this applies to every liquid – white wine, spirits). This is because the beer is cold and if the chocolate is not completely melted the fat in the chocolate will seize and clump up. This will keep the beer and the chocolate from mixing properly.
Another point is to try to balance the amount of chocolate and beer. The ratios between the two will affect the perception of the flavor combination. A lot of beer over a little chocolate will dilute the flavor of the chocolate, and vice versa.
There are a lot of fun suggestions in my Valentine’s Day post: https://www.themaven.net/TheChocolateLife/tastings/eSjLzVTbJU-dHESaJqI47Q
You should be able to find a fruity lambic (e.g., Lindeman) and these will go with good European-style milk chocolate.
Try a Belgian quadrupel with a high cocoa-content dark chocolate – 80%.
You have a great resource in Seattle – Chocolopolis in Queen Anne. Lauren Adler, the owner, is a friend and colleague so I recommend going there (please feel free to drop my name) and ask her for some chocolate recommendations. In addition to a strong bar collection she and her team should be able to guide you on the pairings as well (I don’t know much about the Seattle beer scene). There are retail stores in Seattle with strong bar collections but no one to help you on the pairing side.