Cocoa Runners & Honest Brew: Beer and Chocolate make love

As brewers, sometimes we get a bit beer-centric. We obsess over grains, hops, water and yeast as if every crucial decision in our lives depended on them. In some ways they kind of do. When good old Valentine’s Day approaches, however, this reflex can sometimes get us into trouble. Our initial resort is usually to gift our amours with a nice rich chocolate stout – it’s a gift we’d love ourselves, something really coming from the heart. Until, that is, we crawl out of our beer-centrism and realise on proper reflection that not everyone is like us and wants beer for every gift-giving occasion.


So it is some consolation to know that there are others, not altogether unlike us, who are just as obsessed with the little details of another of life’s pleasures – chocolate. Enter Cocoa Runners; the bringers of damn fine bean-to-bar chocolate, and saviours of Valentine’s Day.


Recently team Honest Brew met up with the folks at Cocoa Runners to chat about our respective passions. We learnt about how cocoa beans differ from one country to the next which greatly affects the flavour of finished chocolate. Coupled with this is how the various processes which convert bean to bar – harvesting, fermenting, drying, roasting, winnowing, grinding, conching and tempering – also have their own influence on flavour and texture. It stands to reason then that bean-to-bar chocolate, like micro-brewed beer, will never be identical from one batch to the next. Subtle differences make life worth living (and gifts worth giving) right?


On that note, to help ourselves and you, fellow beer lover, with gift ideas this Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d have a crack at putting the two together. Beer with chocolate can work in certain divine ways – like a black forest cake with a Kriek or smoked almonds and dark chocolate with an imperial stout – but here we’re talking more along the lines of “If you or your amour are fan of this beer, you’ll surely love this bar of chocolate.”


Team Cocoa Runners gave us several bars to try, each drastically – and deliciously – different from the last, and here’s what we came up with:

Duffy’s Honduras Indio Rojo 72%

This is a rich, light and creamy chocolate which starts with nice dried fruit and finishes with a lingering dry citrus bite. We think it couples well with Beavertown’s 8-Ball Rye IPA.

Duffy’s Oak Smoked Salt & Nibs 43%

The addition of cocoa nibs and oak-smoked sea salt makes this a real complex number. It’s only subtly salty, with creamy notes of caramel and a slight bitter finish thanks to the nibs. Give it a crack if you’re a fan of Bristol Milk Stout

Blanxart Filipino Milk 44%

Rich caramel-cream is really at the forefront of this chocolate. Hints of toffee and grain lead us to thinking a good beer to compare this one with is our Straight Up Amber Ale. Munich malt for the win!

Mast Brothers Papua New Guinea

Nothing short of ‘wow!’, it’s the method of drying the cocoa beans with open fires – unique to Papua New Guinea – that lends a powerful smoky flavour to this chocolate. It’s grainy, nutty and smoky qualities are comparable to Beavertown’s Smog Rocket Porter which is, oddly enough, a little sweeter than the chocolate itself.

Marou Bà Ria 76%

Made by two French friends in the beans’ country of origin, this chocolate starts with a rich intensity followed by hints of dark red berries. The finish is grainy and bitter which, coupled with it’s intensity reminds us of Weird Beard’s Decadence Stout.

Madécasse Pink Pepper & Citrus

This is a pretty funky number, with the addition of pink pepper giving a very delicate hint of spice. Adding a touch of tart citrus, we reckon if you’re a fan of Wild Beer Co Shnoodlepip this chocolate will float your boat.

Want to get your hands on some of these fine chocolate treats? Cocoa Runners are offering Honest Brew readers £5 off their Honest Brew Collection featuring bars from Blanxart, Duffys, Madecasse and Mast Brothers. Click here to check out the collection and enter code ‘HONESTBREW’ at checkout to claim your £5 discount or if you’re in a hurry, click here to head straight to the shopping cart.