Last week was our first time checking out the new beer pairing series that The Bruery (located in Orange, CA) is hosting this summer. The series occurs a few times a month, usually on a week day (to break up the week day blues!) and has great pairings being offered like Beer + Cheese, Beer + Chocolate, Beer + Macarons, and yup, even Beer + Cupcakes!
Typically, the tasting room offers a curated flight of 5 beers for around $12 and then a local guest vendor is invited to bring the wares they would pair with each beer. You get tasting notes and some unique ways to enjoy some unique beers, all while supporting small businesses. What could be better, right?
Last Tuesday was Beer + Chocolate night and though The Bruery is usually a bit out of the comfort zones (beer style-wise) of yours truly, we obviously had to see what all the fuss was about.
The event took place at The Bruery’s new sister tasting room, The Bruery Terreux. If you can’t tell by the name, The Bruery specializes in whimsical and wild barrel aged sours and Belgian styles. Obviously, not really on the Hoppy side of things and usually a bit too funky and sour for Malty. But, oh, those bon-bons from Valenza Chocolatier (of Costa Mesa, CA and envisioned by the talented Amy Jo Pedone)! Amy Jo’s work is inspired by the fine ingredients and flavors of Italy—fantastic!
The pairings themselves where focused on an “opposites attract” philosophy, which we’re totally on board with, but some seemed a bit misplaced. Some of the final pairings helped save the day, though.
Check out what we thought below:
#1: Frucht: Mango (an oak foeder-aged Berlin-style tart wheat beer with Mango)
Limoncello Bon-Bon (a white chocolate ganache infused with real lemon peel and Limoncello liquer)
Hoppy’s Rating: (3/10)—VERY sour and fruit forward beer, and with the white chocolate of the bonbon, just a bit too much for the palette. More points because the bonbon is so amazing, just needs a more subtle beer or even a bourbon.
Malty’s Rating: (3/10) – Hoppy and I were very much simpatico at this event. I love limoncello and felt this would have paired better with a subtle pale or wheat ale.
#2: Le Cogi (an oak foeder-aged Berlin-style tart wheat beer with Lemon, Coconut and Ginger)
Barolo BonBon (a dark chocolate ganache and shell that encases a jelly-like Barolo wine reduction)
Hoppy’s Rating: (2/10)—Again, the beer is just too sour for this Hoppy palette—very strong coconut flavor too, which is interesting, but wish it was in a more subtle beer. Bonbon is completely decadent and is reminiscent of a cherry cordial. Hoppy’s favorite bonbon of the bunch!
Malty’s Rating: (3/10) – Errm, why not pair the limoncello choco with the lemon beer… Not a strong combo for me. The sour beer did not mix well with the sweetness—or the flavors—of this chocolate. Loved the chocolate on its own though!
#3: Chronology 24: Wee Heavy (Scottish-style wee heavy ale aged in bourbon barrels for 24 months)
Nocciole Bar (a bar of creamy milk chocolate topped with roasted hazelnuts and Sicilian sea salt)
Hoppy’s Rating: (8/10)—When enjoyed together, this pairing is almost like a wonderful Kahlua! Great compliments of each other. The toasty maltiness of the wee heavy with the creamy milk chocolate and simple and earthy crunch of nuts and salt are the perfect foils for each other. Superb.
Malty’s Rating: (8/10) – My favorite chocolate of the event—not surprising considering how much I love hazelnuts. The beer is an impressive 14% ABV and paired with the flavors of the chocolate well.
#4: La Demence (Sour ale and bourbon barrel aged ale aged in American oak with Eis Sauvignon Blanc grapes)
Amore Truffle (a dark chocolate ganache wrapped in a dark chocolate shell and dusted with cocoa powder)
Hoppy’s Rating: (3/10)—Again, this one fell short as a pairing and though not my least-favorite beer of the pairing, probably my least favorite bonbon. The bitterness of the dark chocolate and the cocoa powder was an interesting try with the almost cider-like tartness of the beer, but fell short—just too much butter and bitter cocoa battling funk, acid and apple.
Malty’s Rating: (3/10) – Nope. Not having it.
#5: Time for S’Mores (Imperial Porter with graham crackers and marshmallows)
Tartaruga Bite (Georgia pecans, caramel and sea salt draped in dark chocolate)
Hoppy’s Rating: (9/10)—I’m shocked I loved this one as much as I did. Imperial Porter is not typically Hoppy’s jam, but the surprisingly playful and decadent flavors of marshmallow in this beer make it the perfect end to a cozy evening. Coupled with the deceptively simple caramel and pecan flavors of the Tartargua Bite, this pairing saved the evening for me.
Malty’s Rating: (9/10) – Now THIS is a beer made for drinking with gourmet chocolates!In retrospect, I should have ordered a full pour of this to sample with the chocolates.
HOPPY’S OVERALL ASSESSMENT: “I love what The Bruery is doing with these pairing evenings—more of these please! Though I’m a bit skeptical of how other dessert pairings will work out if beer selections are still primarily sours, I’m hoping to be able to dive into the barrel-aged selections more. This is a great way for a hop-head to get their feet wet trying something out of their comfort zone! What I’m particularly excited about? Cheese and beer next! I think a savory pairing might translate better with sour selections.”
MALTY’S OVERALL ASSESSMENT:
“I’d attend another one of these events, and order their chocolatiest beer to pair with the gourmet chocolates.”