Buzz Factor: Beer and Chocolate Pairing
Four to Try at Home

A Wednesday Night Flight Night at Whole Foods Plano promised tastes of some favorite local beers and local chocolates and delivered four to try at home. John and Brian welcomed tasters into the demo kitchen’s compact space, seating us at tables for two set with stemmed glasses and small plates, and began the pour.

The beer: Lakewood Brewing Company Brabo’s Cut, a Belgian style dark beer
The chocolate: Dude Sweet Chocolate Crack in a Box, a bark style chocolate
The buzz: at 9.5% alcohol was pleasantly heavy on malt, and light (IBU 27) on hops. The pairing got everyone’s attention. Dude's owner, Katherine Clapner, says her new riff, Hippie Crack, will be even better. We’ll have to wait and see.

The beer: Deep Ellum Brewing Company’s Double Brown Stout, a Baltic porter
The chocolate: Dude Sweet Chocolate Fungus Amongus, a soft butter toffee
The buzz: The hops sparked a discussion of West Coast breweries out-hopping each other. A taster hailing from Oregon noted assertive hops styles become your expectation when all your local beers are highly hopped. We have only to think of cumin to understand this phenomenon: as Texans, we're so accustomed to cumin, we don’t notice it unless it’s not there. The brown sugar and molasses in Double Brown Stout become full-out praline with Fungus Amongus. Several tasters noted a remarkable finish of French fries, attributed to the toffee’s porcini mushroom powder and toasted pumpkin seeds.

The beer: Lakewood Brewing Company The Temptress, an Imperial Milk Stout
The chocolate: Dude Sweet Chocolate Chubby Nuts, nuts candied and dipped in chocolate
The buzz: milk stouts of old(e) were very low alcohol – typically 2.5% or less – and Temptress exceeds 9%, making Temptress an oxymoron. Temptress and Dude’s Chubby Nuts got everyone talking. And asking for more.

The beer: Lakewood Hop Trapp, a Belgian style IPA
The chocolate: Dude Sweet Chocolate Albatross, a dense fudge
The buzz: malty and complex, Hop Trapp stood up to the darkest chocolate of the evening. Albatross gets its salt and acidity from dehydrated blue cheese. Yet blue cheese flavor is surprisingly undetectable.

Dallas' Dude Sweet Chocolates brought a new twist to the tasting of local beers. Only a handful of the brewers emerging in North Texas are packaging their products but you can take advantage of their brewery tours to get to know them.

So we have great products, but how does one come up with a good pairing? John and Brian say aim for what you perceive as balance and avoid conflicting flavors. The fun is in the exploration.
- DallasWine.com, July 2013