A Bit of Chocolate Beer History
Chocolate and beer have a long association dating back 3,000 years. That’s when the Aztecs discovered chocolate as a by-product of their efforts to ferment cacao beans for ceremonial drinks. Today, that happy pairing continues with delightful specialty blends that tantalize the palate. In fact, chocolate brews are rising in popularity among beer drinkers from coast-to-coast.
Differences between Chocolate Brews
It may surprise you to know that there are some chocolate beers on the market that don’t even contain chocolate. Here’s how to tell the difference:
- Chocolate malt beer uses a special type of barley that imparts a dark, chocolaty color to a brew but may not have a very intense chocolaty taste. These most often have a nutty, roasted flavor.
- Chocolaty beer is brewed from a certain blend of dark, roasted barley. The beer has a chocolaty flavor and look, however there is no real chocolate in the brew.
- True chocolate beers are considered to be those made by adding cocoa into the brewing process. Their chocolate flavor can range from mild to rich.
Chocolate Beer Contenders
These are five examples of chocolate beers that have captured the imagination of brewers and inspired a passion among beer drinkers. Whether from small craft ale houses to traditional big breweries, one of these intoxicating, chocolate-infused beers is sure to tantalize your palate. However, chocolate brews are seasonal, so check them out before they’re gone.
- Foothills Brewing Sexual Chocolate Brewed in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this is a rich imperial stout infused with a heavy dose of cocoa. With tons of flavor and a great aroma, this chocolate beer keeps them coming back for more.
- Rogue Chocolate American Stout A west coast offering from Oregon with multiple chocolate hits, combining real chocolate with chocolate malt. It has the distinction of having won a gold at the 2011 Mondial de la Biere Festival in Strasbourg, France — the only US beer to have ever won an award at this competition.
- Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout Yum, this reminds us of a luscious, creamy, cold glass of chocolate milk we used to guzzle down as kids; except this brew is distinctly for grown-ups. Brewed with milk sugar and milk chocolate by the Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado, this chocolate milk stout is a seasonal favorite, available from February through April only.
- Boulevard’s Chocolate Ale Come February each year, this chocolate beer sends people into a swoon. Kansas City’s local Boulevard Brewing Company uses Valrhona cocoa nibs in its proprietary brew for a satisfyingly chocolaty experience. It is reportedly so popular in the region that the brewery doubled its output for 2014.
- Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock Another seasonal favorite that comes from the Boston Beer Company, this choice is well-loved by chocolate beer lovers. The beer is brewed and then aged on Ecuadorean cocoa nibs. In addition to the infusion of chocolate, the brew also has flavors of honey and vanilla. Probably the most easily available of all the brews listed.