Beer and chocolate. What are your thoughts on this pairing? Many believe that beer has no place on a dessert menu. Others believe it is a match made in heaven.
According to ancient history, beer and chocolate are the perfect partnership. Brewers have known this for centuries – a fact that is evident when you examine the history of beer and chocolate simultaneously.
Both chocolate and beer were invented prehistorically and most of what is known or speculated about the original creation of the two is from scraping pots dug up at archeological sites. In 2007, archeologists studying artifacts from Honduras discovered that chocolate might have been a bi-product of brewing beer. It appears that ancient brewers used cacao pods as brewing vessels. When the brewers were finished with the pods, they disposed of them. Somewhere along the way, someone realized that these pods could be reused to create a bitter, hot, frothy, non-alcoholic drink – the world’s first hot chocolate drink.
Earliest writings of beer illustrate that prayer to ancient beer gods (one in particular was Mesopotamian) were a way to honor the gods and a method for remembering the beer recipes. Similarly, in Mesoamerica chocolate played a special role in religious events. Priests presented cacao seeds as offerings to the deities and served chocolate drinks during sacred ceremonies.
In addition to the similarities in the ancient history of beer and chocolate, there are other commonalities between these two fermented indulgences.
Beer is measured and accessed by bitterness, strength, and color – just like chocolate. Malt beer is naturally sweet and would be undrinkable without the bitterness of hops – much like the bitterness of cocoa must be balanced by sugar. The strength of beer is measured by alcohol by volume (% abv) – chocolate’s strength is measured by cacao content (%). And the color of beer is determined by the amount of malt used – for chocolate, the color is determined by the amount of milk added.
Both beer and chocolate are complicated to make, requiring a multistep process. It takes numerous steps to get from barley to lager or ale. The barley must be malted, dried, mashed, and fermented. Similarly, it is just as complicated to take cacao pods through fermentation and refinement to obtain the sweetness of chocolate.
Beer truly loves chocolate. Historic cousins and perfect partners, chocolate and beer are great companions.