Beer & Chocolate Pairing: Someone has to do it…


Beer and chocolate are two of my favorite things on the planet. If you asked me to define myself in one sentence, the words beer and chocolate would probably be in there somewhere. So you can imagine my dismay when I was burdened with the arduous task of helping pair Stone beer with the innovative artisinal offerings of Eclipse Chocolat for our Beer & Chocolate Pairing event on May 3rd. But I’m not one to complain. Rather than drag my feet and mope about the daunting task ahead of me, I decided to tackle it head-on and get it over with, and so did my equally apprehensive compatriots, Beer & Chocolate Host Ken Wright and Brewer Jeremy Moynier.

Eclipse Chocolat

Eclipse Chocolat

We arrived at Eclipse late in the afternoon, just as rush hour traffic was rearing its ugly head on El Cajon Boulevard. Immediately upon entering the reasonably populated, pleasantly decorated dessert cafe, we were greeted by Chocolatier Extraordinaire Will Gustwiller, the Owner of Eclipse Chocolat. After exchanging customary introductions, we tended to the irksome job before us.

The first piece of chocolate that Will offered us was one of his first creations—a Lavender Sea-Salted Caramel truffle. This creamy milk chocolate delicacy is Eclipse’s most popular truffle, and it’s easy to see why. After striking out with Stone Levitation Ale, we decided to pair it with Stone IPA. Success. The prevailing salt and herbal notes of the truffle harmonized beautifully with the citrusy, hoppy bite of Stone IPA. We were off to a promising start.

Chili-burnt Caramel Truffle

Chili-burnt Caramel Truffle

Next up was Will’s Chili-burnt Caramel Truffle, a chili-infused dark chocolate truffle with a subtle, delayed spicy note. Will warned us that this would be the most difficult truffle to pair, due to its overwhelming flavor profile. We promptly assured him that we rarely encounter food capable of smothering the bold flavors of our beers, but sure enough, we were wrong. The truffle overwhelmed several of our beers before we finally stumbled upon a winner. The long-lasting bitter finish of Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout was the only heavy-hitting flavor that could stand up to the prolonged chili spice of the truffle. When the ooh’s and ahh’s subsided, they were replaced by talk of using this pairing as the finale of the pairing on May 3rd. And for good reason.

Balsamic Pink Peppercorn Truffle

Balsamic Pink Peppercorn Truffle

The next truffle, Will’s Balsamic Pink Peppercorn truffle, was a definite departure from the previous offerings. If you’re thinking of the slight spicy flavor found in commercial peppercorn dressings and such, think again. Will uses actual fresh peppercorns for the filling of this truffle, resulting in an earthy sweet flavor that is enhanced by raspberry balsamic vinegar sweetened dark chocolate. Double Bastard Ale and Stone Cali-Belgique IPA weren’t a match, but we eventually found the right supplement. The smoky, roasted barley note and strong hop finish of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale proved a perfect mate for the unique truffle.

At this point our spirits were low as the backbreaking labor began to take its toll, but somehow we mustered the strength and determination to persist. Will introduced the next delicacy, a Black Sesame Anise truffle, and we valiantly resumed. This dark chocolate ganache-infused creation comes packed with anise seed and star anise, and is topped with toasted black sesame seeds. Again we tried to pair it with Stone Levitation Ale, along with a few other Stone beers, all to no avail. At last we found a champion in the form of Stone Cali-Belgique IPA. The dense fruity note of the Belgian Yeast provided the perfect contrast to the bittersweet anise and the toasty sesame seeds.

The next chocolate was met with desperate cries for mercy as the unceasing consumption of gourmet chocolate and delicious craft beer began to erode our morale, but the painful ordeal was almost over. We knew that once we found a pairing with Will’s Macadamia Ginger White Chocolate, we could go home. So we found one in the form of 2009 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine. The sweet tang of the lemon sang in perfect harmony with Old Guardian’s hoppy finish, and the ginger in the chocolate worked opposite of the bold barley presence of the barley wine. And for all of you who think white chocolate isn’t real chocolate, let there be no mistake. White chocolate is indeed chocolate if it has real cocoa butter in it. Many commercially available white chocolates opt for vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter because it’s significantly cheaper. Will does no such thing. His white chocolate is the real deal.

Stone Brewer Jeremy Moynier (left), Tour Guide Kathryn Bouscaren, and Beer & Chocolate Host Ken Wright (right) hard at work

Stone Brewer Jeremy Moynier (left), Tour Guide Kathryn Bouscaren, and Beer & Chocolate Host Ken Wright (right) hard at work

But alas, there was more! Will cemented his standing as a wizard of chocolate with his last delicacy—a Banana Rum Cigar truffle. Will explained that he deftly weaved actual cigar leaf into this rare truffle, immediately dropping our jaws and leaving us mystified. Unfortunately, the Valentine’s Day rush depleted Will’s inventory, and he didn’t have enough of this spectacular truffle to finish the pairing. Thankfully, he offered to send us more so we could finish the pairing here at the brewery. So let it be known that there will be a surprise pairing in store for you on May 3rd, should you choose to attend Beer & Chocolate.

Eclipse Chocolat Owner, Will Gustwiller, now the proud owner of leftover Stone beer

Eclipse Chocolat Owner, Will Gustwiller, now the proud owner of leftover Stone beer

After nearly two hours of drudgery and copious amounts of beer and chocolate, we emerged with five spectacular pairings and one “to be announced” pairing. We would like to thank our gracious host and culinary genius Will Gustwiller for offering us a glimpse of his wildly imaginative take on chocolate. If you like Stone beer, and you like equally bold-flavored chocolate, you’d be crazy not to enjoy the fruits of his (and our) labor on May 3rd. Though we won’t discourage you from arming yourself with our tasting notes and going down to Eclipse to try the pairings we came up with, we do hope that you send us your suggestions for the sixth pairing. We’d really appreciate your help!

-Matt Steele

www.eclipsechocolat.com

http://www.stonebrew.com/calendar/#090503

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

Ken Wright
“Bittersweet” is a good way to describe the feedback we’ve received from our fans over the last year and a half since the release of 2007’s Stone 11th Anniversary Ale. Bittersweet. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. The term is quite descriptive of the beer itself, of course, as it aptly describes the flavors of the esteemed big hopped, high gravity IPA with roasted malts. But the word “bittersweet” applies in other ways as well.

First of all, receiving unsolicited rants and raves from our fans whenever we release a new beer is undoubtedly a pretty sweet thing. (Truth is, those of us here at Stone just can’t get enough of hearing how great we are!) Yeah, that’s sweet. The accolades bestowed specifically upon Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, however, have been tempered in large part by the sobering—and yes, in many instances, bitter—acknowledgment that this wonderful, ebony-hued gem had all but disappeared from the shelves shortly after its debut, likely never to be seen again. People begged and pleaded for its return in their calls and emails, and I did my best to break it to them gently. Stone Anniversary Ales are like comets, I would explain, bursting forth gloriously but all too briefly from the heavens—and then exiting beyond our earthly dispensation, leaving us wistfully agape in thirsty wonder…or some damn thing like that. The point is, we’re sorry kids, that’s just the way it is sometimes.

Sigh…but not all the time!

So, to all those who still mourn the passing of the late, great Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, it’s time to wipe away those tears and crack open this bottle of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. Go ahead, do it. Hmmm…taste familiar?

Brace yourself, bereaved fans of Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, for your joyous new day has finally come! It’s like your first crush–you know, the one who broke your heart when she/he decided to go to the junior prom with what’s-their-name–has suddenly come back to you to go for a cruise down the main drag on Friday night. It’s like…it’s like finding that long lost gold watch, given to you by your father, who got it from his father, who got it from his father. It’s like when your best buddy in the world, Sam the family dog, finally sauntered up the front porch steps one sunny afternoon after having been on a six-week runaway. Yes, it’s just like that.

And it’s like this: A brilliantly hopped double IPA–providing a wake up call of floral and citrus aromas–backed up by a deliciously smooth and dark roasted maltiness. You get the best of both worlds with this black double IPA.

Remember, though, this is one of our Limited Releases (like Stone Cali-Begique IPA) that we fit it into the brewing schedule whenever we can. It has begun showing up on draft only in Southern California, but will slowly be making make its way to other areas across the country. Keep your eye out for 22 ounce bottles showing up in January, and check our distribution page for where they’re heading. Be sure to savor the moment when this Sublime brew comes your way, and don’t be afraid to feel a little Self-Righteous. After all, you have impeccable taste.

-Ken Wright

Front Label

Front Label

Back Label

Back Label

Tap Handle

Tap Handle