HOPTOLOGY

San Diego Beer, Local & Independent!

A Real Trick R’ Treat : Gourmet Chocolate, Artisan Cheese & Craft Beer!

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When we last spoke, I was busy extolling the virtues of pairing your favorite craft beers with as many varieties of foods and snacks as possible. The point being to further the idea that craft beer is an important compliment to foods on the same level as many people view wine. The topic was easily one of my favorite things to talk about and it garnered a favorable amount of feedback from folks who typically don’t drink craft beer outside of certain social situations and certainly not over a filet mignon from Donovan’s Steak House.

As I intimated towards the end of the post, this was all precursor to a little craft beer & food pairing that I had set in motion with my favorite foodie and fellow blogger, Megan, of Monkeybreadandsweetpea.com. We went into the planning stages with the idea to keep it relatively simple and at a restrained budget since we were literally eating and drinking the costs of the event. We quickly settled on the idea of five different cheeses and chocolates pairing with five different craft beers. Knowing ahead of time that our budgets would preclude us from indulging in buying any Gorau Glas and Bitto cheeses or bottles of Westvleteren XII (which I wouldn’t be able to provide without a trip to Belgium) we set out to design our menus.
I asked Megan to pick the five cheese and chocolates she would liked to see paired up with craft beer and I would set out to find beers that would compliment those choices. In theory I had the easier of the two jobs, but I set out to try and design a truly unique craft beer experience with some choices that would be slightly out of my comfort zone. Some of the rules I made for myself might seem a bit odd, but I wanted to try and push myself to think about the food and the beers in different ways than I typically would. That meant no San Diego beers. I can hear the gasps coming over the internet. The friends that would be at this mini event are my main drinking and eating buddies, we have traveled all over this county drinking beers from every brewer that would serve us. Why not take this opportunity to showcase how food and craft beer pair but also show some other great beers from around the country and even the world? The possibilities became almost overwhelming but in a fun way.
The second challenge I placed on myself had to do with the chocolate portion of the tasting. I was pretty confident in the beer pairings with the cheeses, but the chocolate presented a fun challenge. Typically when pairing beer with chocolate you can pick up a stout or a porter and hit a home run on your first swing. So that was the rule I placed on myself, I would not pick any stouts and would limit myself to only one porter, and even the porter I selected had more to do with the flavor possibilities of one of the cheeses.
With these rules in mind I now present the 1st annual Spooktacular (It was Halloween weekend) Artisan Cheese, Gourmet Chocolate and Craft Beer Pairing, as selected by myself and Megan
Pairing #1 – English Vintage Reserve Cheddar with Dark Chocolate Covered Cranberries paired with Ninkasi Brewing’s Total Domination IPA
Pairing #2 – Uniekaas Reserve (Aged Gouda) with Chili Infused Dark Chocolate and or Chuao Firecracker (Dark Chocolate w/ Chipotle, Sea Salt, Pop Rocks) paired with Drake’s Black Robusto Porter
Pairing #3 – Point Reyes Aged Blue Cheese with Dark Chocolate paired with Ommegang Abby Ale
Pairing #4 – Cinnamon Apple Goat Cheese with Dark Chocolate and Almonds paired with Ayinger Brauweisse Hefeweizen
Pairing #5 – Le Delice de Bourgogne Triple Cream Brie with Truffles (Godiva Milk Chocolate with Caramel, White Chocolate Ganache and Toffee, Or Chocolate Caramel or Dark Chocolate paired with St. Bernardus Tripel
Yum!

Yum!

Megan and I agreed that the only real rule was to have fun. We suggested that each person try the pairing as selected first and then start mixing and matching to find out what flavors and combinations they liked the most. A sort of craft beer, cheese and chocolate roulette if you will.

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I can’t speak for Megan on this, but I was very nervous when people first started sampling. I was asking a group of close friends who are die-hard hop-heads to drink porters and abby ales. This could have turned into a disaster. Luckily my worries were for not, I think starting with the IPA up front helped because once people took a bite of the aged cheddar with the Total Domination, you could see people’s eyes get a little bigger with the surprise of how good the sharpness of the cheddar played of the sharpness of the hops from the IPA.

The pairing turned out to be pretty darn good. We got some really great responses from our guinea pigs, er… I mean friends. Two that really surprised me were the Aged Gouda with the Drake’s Porter, we got a really great smoky flavor, and the Goat Cheese with the Hefeweizen, something about the creamy cheese mingling with the clove and wheat flavors that played off each other very well. Ommegang Abby Ale was also a favorite around the table with the big flavors from the aged blue cheese. Pairing a triple cream brie with a belgian tripel is always going to win folks over.
On the chocolate front, the Drake’s Black Robusto went well with everything but I was delighted by the flavors from the IPA with the chocolate and chipotle. I also enjoyed the milk chocolate paired with the Tripel, just delightful. I think it’s fair to say the results were a fun, entertaining and tasty night full of delightful palate popping experience.
I’m also very enthusiastic to say that we had so much fun that Megan and I are hard at work figuring out when we will be planning our next pairing event. If you want invited, you’ll have to talk to her as it’s at her house. So be sure to head over to her site and read her thoughts on the nights events as well.
I want to hear your craft beer pairing stories, so please share.
Cheers,
Tom
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Author: hoptologysd31

Beer lover living the dream in San Diego, CA. I'm always looking to find great beers in places where I'd least expect them.

2 thoughts on “A Real Trick R’ Treat : Gourmet Chocolate, Artisan Cheese & Craft Beer!

  1. I think we knocked it out of the park, if I don’t say so myself! Thanks for suggesting we do this!!

  2. Thanks for a great description of the event (and for leaving out the part where Pete allegedly stole Jeannine’s aged Gouda). The pairings all sounded good! Hopefully, I’ll be in town next time.

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