Monday, April 18, 2016


Beer and chocolate are two of those things and when you combine them you multiply the awesomeness by a factor of two.

 The indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica believed that chocolate was a gift from the gods and since beer is clearly the beverage of the gods they just naturally go together. Brewers have been using chocolate to flavor their wares for a very long time and most beer fans have had a chocolate stout like Young’s Double Chocolate or Rouge’s Chocolate Stout at some point in their boozy careers. However, there are other, more subtle uses for chocolate in the brewing process. Many breweries and home brewers use cocoa of various kinds in their porters and brown ales as well. Even though the cocoa flavor in a porter or brown ale isn’t as up front as a chocolate stout, the dark, earthy overtones of cocoa add to the complexity of the taste and the aroma.

Various types of chocolate and cocoa products can be added at several stages in the brewing process. Brewable chocolate comes in three basic forms: solid bars, cocoa powder, and nibs. Each has various strengths (both in the finished product and in the brewing process) that make them suitable for different brews.

People are generally more familiar and comfortable with solid chocolate bars. For the brewing process, unsweetened baker’s chocolates and couvertures are the best choice because they don’t add any more sugar to the mixture. Solid chocolate should be melted before being put in the kettle to avoid scorching or burning the chocolate. Chocolate should be melted in a double boiler and for a dark chocolate you’ll want to heat it slowly to around 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cocoa powder is more commonly used in brewing and can give the beer a more complex taste than solid chocolate can. Cocoa powders can be used as is, but a little goes a long way. Depending on what percentage you use, the powder’s fat content can make it difficult to dissolve the cocoa completely. To make this easier, cocoa powder can be added to the mash where they can be mixed more evenly and still make it into the finished product. Alkalized cocoa powders are a little softer and lower in fat, so they might be easier to work with. Alkalized cocoa powders, also called Dutched powders, might be the better call for recipe experimentation.

However, the most potent form of brewable chocolate is cocoa nibs. Cocoa nibs are the real deal: they’re crushed cacao beans that come in raw and roasted form. The roasted nibs have a darker color and flavor which makes them more appropriate for heavier beers. The paler raw nibs are better for crisper ales and things like coffee flavored porters. Nibs have a hardcore flavor so a few ounces of them can be used to flavor a small homebrew batch. Nibs' natural flavor makes them the favorite cocoa additive of commercial brewers as well.

Summing this up is pretty simple: beer is awesome, chocolate is awesome so put them together to make some awesome beer. We can supply the adventurous home brewer or the largest of microbreweries with solid chocolate, cocoa powder, and cocoa nibs. So, order some chocolate, make some beer, and get awesome.