Friday, December 4, 2015

Chocolate Brew Face-Off

As the weather gets cooler again, we will shift gears and highlight a four brew face-off between chocolate stouts. Of craft beers, chocolate stouts and ales are some of the best beers to make great beer cocktails. Chocolate stouts and ales play well with coffee liqueur, cream liqueurs like Amarula, dark and navy rums and many amari like Averna. Bitters like Angostura, Bokers, and Aphrodite bitters can add more depth and interest to your beer cocktail. So which one should you try? How about these-
The first brew we evaluated was Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout. Brewed at the venerable brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England, the brewing water for its stouts is still drawn from its original 1758 well and its yeast strain has been used continuously for over 115 years, one of the oldest unchanged strains in the United Kingdom. When poured, the Sam Smith offers a very dark body and a loose tan head (the visual of each of these four beers is very similar). It smells of deep milk chocolate, owning to the roasted chocolate malt and cocoa used in its brewing. Totally a dessert beer, it tastes more like creamy milk chocolate than beer, with little effort by Sam Smith to balance it with hops. More than one of these is much too cloying, even for Cindy.

Our second brew was the Blackwater: Mokah from Southern Tier Brewing Company from Lakewood, New York. This stout is brewed with chocolate and caramel malts, roasted coffee beans, natural chocolate, and Columbus hops. Its smell is closer to Tootsie Rolls than anything else. Its flavor is primarily caramelized chocolate with a hint of coffee. Unlike the Sam Smith, the piney after-blast of the Columbus hops gives the Mokah a true alkaline finish, one that we didn’t find all that pleasant as a dessert beer, although this beer could be really good with barbequed or smoked pork (or used in a glaze).

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout from Wells & Young Brewing in Bedford, United Kingdom, was our third stout of the night. This brew looks and tastes like Guinness, including simulating Guinness’ famous settle. The addition of chocolate is the only real difference between the two. I find the Young’s more satisfyingly balanced than the Sam Smith or Mokah and would use the Young’s in my Guinness cupcake recipe for sure.

Our fourth and final brew was Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale from Atwater Brewery. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, this little ale pours out with little head. Not much depth to its aroma. I cannot actually tell if there is more vanilla or chocolate in its flavor, but I can tell you that there is not much ‘beer’ in it. Much thinner than the stouts (which is fine, since this is a different beer style), the Decadent finishes in maple syrup notes. This brew is Cindy’s fave, while I prefer the Young’s.

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