What Were They Thinking?

What Were They Thinking?

Every once in a while (okay, pretty often) a product comes to market that makes you scratch your head and wonder, “What Were They Thinking?’


The observations I am making are about the products, not the companies or their efforts.

To be completely clear, despite my reservations about how and what they communicate, the effort Tony’s is directing at issues of illegal labor in cocoa deserves recognition and kudos. The same is true for what Koa is doing to increase income opportunities for farmers by upcycling what is normally a waste product, the juice from the pulp – conservatively 1 Billion liters last year alone – that is normally discarded during fermentation.

Nope, that is not what I am asking. What I asking is, “What were they thinking when they decided to go with these particular products?”

Brewdog Brewery’s Collab w/ Tony’s Chocolonely
Tony’s Hopolonely

Fair use disclaimer: This image is being used here in context with commentary/parody.

The flavor description says more than enough: “White Chocolate and Raspberry Milkshake IPA.” What were they thinking? Makes me wonder what word the yellow oval is hiding – unrepentant? as in“Fiercely unrepentant? ...”

To me this sounds like a beer for the Tony’s fan who does not actually like beer.

IPAs (India Pale Ales) are not sweet, they are hoppy, and not in the here comes Peter Cottontail sense of hoppy. IBUs – International Bitterness Units – are the name of the game in this style of beer. Citrusy, piney, bitter all those things. Not like a raspberry milkshake at all.

I kind of, maybe?, get that the right hop or blend of hops could complement the sourness of the raspberry, but the idea of a sweet IPA I find confusing, and not in a good way. And this is from someone infamous for  his “alternative” beer pairings (e.g., Rodenbach Grand Cru w/ Cacao Sampaka white Matcha with Lemon), this is not one I understand.

At. All.

Maybe? a milk stout for the pun on milkshake, but an IPA? If there is any information about the IBU rating on this or the hops used in the mash bill I am all ears.

But, for the record, as an actual chocolate fan who is also an actual beer fan, I have zero interest in trying this {{shudder}} beer to help me understand it.

Collab Between Zur alten Weinhandlung & KOA Pure
Aduaba Impact Liqueur

I am a fan of using cacao juice in non-traditional ways, and I encourage such thinking. Using Impact in the name will, I am sure, drive a lot of interest in purchasing at least one bottle. As I have stated in the past, you need to get to the third purchase to know if there will be traction. I hope there is, for the farmers’s sake.

Unfiltered Swiss single-malt proofed with cacao juice with added flavorings.

From its description this is more of a Frankenstein’s monster than Hopolonely. “Aduaba Impact Liqueur is a unique, fruity-sweet single malt liqueur based on cocoa fruit juice.” Its ingredients bill/process is described thusly:

  • Single-malt (can’t call it Scotch because it’s made in Switzerland);
  • Liqueur (a sweetened spirit with an ABV typically between 15- 30% but can go as high as 55%);
  • Flavored with added fruit juice and spices; that is
  • Unfiltered.

According to the website, the odor is: “A lovely sweetness of caramel, citrus, exotic fruits, and cedarwood,” and the taste is a, “highly complex experience ... balanced aromas of litchi, pear, orange, lime, mango, and forest honey dance playfully with the gentle power of a high-quality single malt.”

Aduaba Liqueur
Aduaba (the word means “fruit” in the Ghanaian Twi language) Impact Liqueur.

And it’s sweet.

As someone who’s been involved in the development of a distilled spirit from fresh cacao juice (it was called Solbeso™), I am definitely intrigued by this. I am not generally a fan of liqueurs, nor am I am a fan of flavored brown base spirits like rums or bourbons or whiskies. I am trying to wrap my head around the combination of aromas and flavors mentioned on top of a single-malt.

This is a boutique spirit. It seems to have been formulated to be drunk alone, and I am not sure if it’s meant to be drunk at room temp, with a single rock, or iced. Could it be mixed with something sparkling? I can imagine it as the second or third spirit in a cocktail (perhaps used as an alternative to St Germain) but the color could work against it for many cocktails.

Unlike Hopolonely, I am intrigued to find out, but I still wonder what they were thinking.

If there is a reader of TheChocolateLife in the EU who’d like to send me a bottle, I would happily give it a try and write a review, thanking you for getting it to me.

Featured image credit: Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash.
H/T David Greenwood-Haigh for bringing these two products to my attention.

Member Contributions

Do you know of a cocoa/chocolate product that has you scratching your head and wondering, “What were they thinking”? Please share it in the comments. Agree or disagree with the two products mentioned? The comments section awaits.

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