For those who are visiting for the first time ... Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Carpinteria and combine two of my favorite things: chocolate and beer. Over the course of two hours, Jean-Michel (chocolatier/owner of Chocolats du Cali Bressan), Jill (his wife) and I tasted a dozen or so delicious artisan chocolates and paired them with beer. Together we were able to pair six different beers with ten different chocolates! Over the next two weeks I will be posting the results of these delicious and sometimes surprising pairings.
Chocolate Description: Bressan
The shape and the name of this chocolate are no coincidence. The shoe resembles the wooden shoes Jean-Michel would wear while working on the family farm when he was a boy. The name "Bressan" refers to a person from the city of Bresse, Jean-Michel's hometown. Bresse is an area in Burgundy between the Ain and Saône rivers. To learn more about Jean-Michel and his passion for chocolates and food visit his BLOG [click here].
Beer Style and Description:
Stone Brewing Company (brewer of the Arrogant Bastard series and known for their big and bold beers) brews three different versions of the Arrogant Bastard Ale. There is the namesake Arrogant Bastard Ale, Double Bastard (a beefed-up version) and Oaked Arrogant Bastard. While this pairing will probably work with any of the three I chose the oaked version because of the extra layer of complexity the oak adds.
Arrogant Bastard is considered a Strong American Ale. This is kind of a catch all category for beers that do not to fit nicely into one category. The only thing any of these beers in this category will have in common is their elevated alcohol content. Starting at 7% and up. AND by up I mean as high as 15%. They can amber to jet black, hoppy or malty, effervescent or still. The range is wide open and the only way you know what you have for sure is by tasting it.
Aroma: Spicy hop aroma and alcohol with a sweet caramel-like malt sweetness tied together with oak.
Appearance: It pours a deep red-copper with a light tan head that dissipates quickly.
Flavor: The taste is as it smells. There is a pronounced hop flavor and bitterness that gives way quickly to a sweet caramel sweetness. Pay attention to the sweetness there is a complex albeit subtle nuttiness complexity there. The sweetness then dissipates quickly and is replaced by an assertive piney hop flavor after you swallow. A hint of oak makes its presence known at the end (pay attend to your exhale) as the oak vapor exits after you swallow. Enjoy this last moment as the oak flavor vapor sets the stage for your next drink, reminding you of the spicy hops and alcohol.
Mouthfeel: This beer has a medium-full body and a pronounced carbonation rounded out by a pleasing alcohol warmth.
Food Pairings: Cheese: nutty (assiago, parmaseian), Desserts: topped with nuts and/or similar spices.
HopHeadSaid: Be sure to let this beer warm slightly before you drink it. If it is too cold all you will taste is the hop bitterness and carbonation. Once the beer warms to 45 or even 50 degrees the malt and oak flavors/aromas will start to shine through.
Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale is not a subtle beer, as you may have gathered from my description. It is big on hop flavor, bitterness and alcohol. You should share this beer even if you find int in a 12oz bottle as any amount over 6oz will outlast your truffle or bonbon.
This pairing works because:
2. The sweet milk chocolate and praline coat the mouth and by the time the alcohol and carbonation wash the chocolate away the initial hop flavor and bitterness has subsided and you are left with the residual caramel/toffe-like malt flavor.
3. The praline resonate with the oak and piney flavors.
4. The spiced praline resonates with the oak and piny hop flavors as well as the subtle nuttiness found in the sweet caramel malt.
5. As a whole, this pairing subdues the mighty Arrogant Bastard!
Topics: Food Pairing, Beer Pairing, Chocolate Pairing, Beer and Food, Beer and Chocolate