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: