Chocolate As To Beer

IMG_0070As I type this draft up, Dea Latis are hosting a Beer & Chocolate guided tasting at The Brewery Tap, Leeds. Without making a sweeping generalisation about the fairer sex (of course not!), it’s looking incredibly successful. A lot of people like Beer. But everyone likes chocolate.

Thus, the two are best of buddies. There are some truly world-class Chocolate beers out there – Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (and people say that’s not as good as it used to be) being the first two that spring to mind – but, as with the dark beer/coffee tryst, there’s a lot of poor ones out there too. As a flavour, it’s a case of approximation. The delightfully Wonka-esque-named Chocolate Malt doesn’t really impart a chocolate flavour to me; more of a burnt/roasted note. So what do you do? Add Cocoa? Steep the beer on Cacao Nibs? Syrups and Essences? All of the above, it would seem, judging from a quick scan of the ‘net.

I must admit, I do like an occasional chocolate beer hit – but I generally get it from chocolatey stouts and porters, rather something with the specific word chocolate on the label. I also like Chocolate with beer: stouts, brown ales, porters and krieks are delicious at times with a little nibble of chocolate on the side (Ooh, get me, I bet you’re thinking. Don’t worry, this is a practice I only carry out at home, proudly wearing my ‘beer git’ badge).

One that I enjoy often is Saltaire’s Triple Chocoholic, which lasts about three seconds wherever it appears on cask.  A bittersweet stout swirled with Chocolate Syrup and giving you an instant hit of Maltesers and Toblerone, it’s the kind of beer that you feel you shouldn’t enjoy but do; which is ironic, given that that’s how most of us feel about chocolate. And maybe that’s the key to the style’s popularity; it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure.

smiths yorkI picked up an armful of Yorkshire’s current chocolate-themed beers for an Easter blowout. First up, Rudgate’s York Chocolate Stout (5% abv). Of course; York. The home of Rowntree’s and Terry’s; the home of Northern chocolate treats like KitKats and Chocolate Creams. Now, the chocolate-making is done by small companies like York Cocoa House – who teamed up with the ever-reliable Rudgate Brewery to produce this stout.

It’s pretty well-realised, actually. Dark but with the merest hint of Ruby within, the nose is all caramel and milk chocolate – Mars Bars, perhaps, being your reference point. There’s some mocha in the body, which is light,  and it finishes with some toasted bread notes that gets increasingly bitter as the finish goes on. The chocolate flavour in here is pleasant and well-balanced; and I actually think it could do with a little more ooomph (official term) in the body, to enhance that even more. Still, a really enjoyable beer and it passes the chocolate beer test – it’s drinkable.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Sam Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout (5%abv). Expectations were high; wonderful, classic Smith’s label, and an amazing aroma to boot – the best of the bunch. As I poured, the room filled with deeply nutty notes; all Walnut praline and Coffee-cake frosting. But it tasted way too sweet for me – tooth-jarringly so. I couldn’t drink much of it.

bad kittyNext up, Brass Castle’s Bad Kitty (5.5%abv) – a beer I’m more than familiar with, having judged it not long after its inception at York Beer Festival in 2011. We crowned it winner that year, and rightly so; my memory of it was that it was head and shoulders above the rest on the day. Not a chocolate beer per se but a Vanilla Porter, I’ve included it as it’s in the same family, if you will.

Bottled, it surprised me with its drinkability. Bad Kitty is a pitch-black moggy with a deep, rich vanilla sponge aroma that’s backed up by lashings of roasted, toasted malt notes. The almost over-sweetness that the nose sets you up for never really appears. Instead you get a smooth, suppable porter that begins with vanilla cream and finishes fruity and moreish; laden with Blackcurrant and digestive biscuit. If you like Vanilla Porters – or that particular flavour in Beer, seek this out.

Giving the usual Easter Eggs this year? Seek out a chocolate beer instead – at least it’s different!


About leighgoodstuff

Blog: I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 23/03/2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Nice account Leigh. Totally agree about the Sam Smiths. Classic labelling, excellent aroma, but a cavity with every sip! Being in the North West, Bad Kitty was a recent discovery, lovely. Locally, the Marble Chocolate is rather nice also! Nice review.

    • Marble Chocolate is excellent; I wondered wether to include it but I had a good little brace of Yorkshire beers here – throwing in a Lancashire one would have jarred a bit! One for next time, methinks!

  2. I have mixed feelings about chocolate beers, some are excellent like the Brooklyn Black above, some, like the piss poor example I had last night but won’t mention here are just plain wrong.

    Not being a brewer I’m not sure why that is, ingredients, brewers skill, both?

    May I recommend one that hopefully has made it north, “Heartless” by “RedWillow” which I think is a clear example of the two things coming together.

    This is a collaboration between RW and a local company Pure Origin who make some of the finest chocolate I have ever tasted (check them out, you won’t be disappointed).

    It just works so well on cask, I’m sure the bottles are ace too although I’ve not tried one


  3. British_Beer_Man

    Have you tried the XT Brewing Co and Will Torrent Chocolate Stout, its called Roast Cacao? Might only just have been released. Not in your face chocolate, but nice aftertaste of roasty chocolate flavour.

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