food,  local,  microbrews

Pairing Chocolate and Beer

I first discovered that chocolate and beer taste good together at a Notre Dame football tailgate. I was a college student, and happened to pop a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup into my mouth, followed by a sip of Milwaukee’s Best Light.

I’m happy to report that I’ve moved up in the world. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a chocolate and beer tasting led by chocolatier extraordinaire Gail Ambrosius. We tasted single-origin chocolate from different parts of Central and South America, paired with  microbrews from Ale Asylum, Lake Louie, Furthermore, and New Holland Brewery. Midwestern craft beer and chocolate from the tropics may seem like an unlikely combination, but I can assure you it is a delicious one.
Gail showed us dried cacao pods and explained how the large pods are split open when fresh. The sticky beans inside are then harvested, fermented, dried, roasted, and processed into chocolate. Gail has been to many of the farms that supply her chocolate, which she then turns into delectable truffles, bars, and other goodies, which she sells at her Madison store on Atwood Avenue and on her website.

At the tasting, someone asked Gail why she only works with dark chocolate. She said it’s because that’s what she likes. I loved that explanation. May we all be so lucky (and brave) to do what we like.


  • Susan

    Most of the pairings were with stouts and porters, which tasted great with the dark chocolate. The one I showed in this post, though, was an ale. It was very unusual–with beets as an additive. We had that one with a shiitake truffle, which sounds gross but was actually really good. Both the beer and chocolate had some earthiness to them.

  • Kristen

    so what made a good chocolate/beer pairing? I’m intrigued!
    I’ve had some good chocolate stouts, but never really paired up beer with chocolate.