Anyone who knows me even in passing is well aware of my love of craft beer and chocolate (among other things). So when Hop Burns and Black, my local craft beer shop, announced a chocolate and beer pairing in collaboration with local Peckham chocolatier Melange, I knew I needed to be there (I was, also, a lucky ticket winner via good ole Twitter). Now, as a rule, I am quite fussy about my food and alcohol pairings, having attended some less-than-fortunate ones involving a lot of salty nibbles and whisky. So, I was over the moon when I learned that all the beer and chocolate on display had been picked with the express purpose of matching across nose, palate and finish.
The shop itself is run by Glenn and Jen, two craft beer lovers from New Zealand who now call Peckham their home. They’ve brought over knowledge, enthusiasm, and a love of beer and hot sauce, meaning that for me, this is now the number one destination for news and new releases. This knowledge was firmly on display during the tasting, which kicked off with a Yeastie Boys Witbier, for me an absolute winner. Next, Glenn took us through what he called the ‘three Cs’ of of matching: complement, contrast and cut; all three of these ingredients are the key to a successful tasting and it’s an approach I would like to see more whisky and food pairings take.
What followed was a raft of craft beers, some to great success – the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen I adored in particular, as it reminded me of the excellent Balcones Brimstone American whisky – others not as much. This isn’t to say that the beers themselves were terrible, more that I have what I’d prefer to call an eclectic palate: most of the beers tasted “weird” to me, as I normally go for extreme tastes – the extra hoppy IPAs or the very bitter saisons. Across the board, the chocolates that Jen and Glenn picked were 100% matched to the beers’ flavour profiles, and they even managed to get me to agree that grapefruit can actually be palatable.
The second half of the tasting brought out the big guns, with all but one beer over 8% ABV. The highlight was the amazing Bones of a Sailor Part III Imperial Porter paired with a raspberry and rosemary dark chocolate: a drying, amazing and mouth coating taste, it truly earned the 5 stars that I marked it with on my sheet. I ended up liking the beer so much that I actually got a bottle for myself and I’ve been singing its praises to all and sundry.
The delicious selection in part 2 of the tasting
I have yet to test their knowledge of hot sauces, but if local reviews are anything to go by, these guys really know their stuff. So, chocolate or not, I invite anyone venturing this far South to drop in to Hop, Burns & Black and gaze upon the veritable cornucopia of delicious things on offer. And then drop me a note so I can join you!