Drink Craft Beer
Valentine's Day is coming up and, to us, what could be better than celebrating with some craft beer and chocolate? How about raising money for The Greater Boston Food Bank? What if we told you you could do all those things at the same time?!
Well on Saturday, February 11th, 2012 from 2-6pm you can! Drink Craft Beer is taking over the Taza Chocolate Factory Store and we're doing some pretty cool stuff.
Taza Chocolate is a bean-to-bar, organic, direct trade chocolate company that has been growing like crazy over the past years. We met them when it was just a couple guys in a factory in Somerville and we’ve watched them grow to national distribution. To us, it’s incredible what Taza Chocolate is able to do with just a few select, high quality ingredients. It actually mirrors our love of craft beer, as brewers do the same with a few simple ingredients. That’s why we think that these two are such a perfect complement to each other.
It’s no secret, Taza Chocolate and Drink Craft Beer have long been friends. We’ve done not just one, but two events together in the past where we’ve paired some of the best craft beer on the market with our favorite bean-to-bar, organic chocolates. But we’ve never brought you all to the factory before!
Given the reaction to past events, we knew we had to do another and what better time than right before Valentine’s Day? So, with that in mind, we’re taking over the Taza Chocolate Factory Store on Saturday, February 11th from 2-6pm and offering you a chance to try four delicious chocolate and craft beer pairings! All we ask in return is a $3 donation at the door, 100% of which will go to The Greater Boston Food Bank. Come join us at:
Taza Chocolate Factory Store
561 Windsor Street
Somerville, MA 02143
Every dollar that gets donated allows them to provide 2.5 meals to those in need, so your $3 donation will provide 7.5 meals! If you bring just one friend, that’s 15 meals for people who are going hungry!
For just $3, you'll get:
- Four samples of craft beer paired with four Taza Mexicano Chocolates
- Meet Rob Lucente, Co-Founder of Peak Organic Brewing Company
- Meet Caitlin Jewell & Jeff Leiter, Co-Founders of Somerville Brewing Company (aka Slumbrew)
- Hang out with Devon and Jeff from Drink Craft Beer
- A chance to provide 7.5 meals to those who are in need
The pairings you'll get to try are:
Peak Organic Oak Aged Mocha Stout with Taza Mexicano Salted Almond Chocolate
Honestly, we originally thought that Taza’s Mexicano Coffee Chocolate would pair with this beer. But the coffee and chocolate (the chocolate is actually nibs from the Taza factory...it all comes full circle!) in Peak Organic’s Oak Aged Mocha Stout just mirrored the flavors in the chocolate way too much...it tasted good together but it didn’t enhance anything, which is the goal when you’re pairing food and beer. The salted almond chocolate, however, was a great surprise choice! By itself, this is possibly our favorite of Taza’s offerings, it tastes almost like a high-end peanut butter cup. But the beer takes it to a whole other level. The oak introduces a bit of a vanilla taste to the beer, which draws out the richness of the chocolate. While this is going on, the sweetness of the chocolate (in our mind, the sweetest tasting of the Taza Chocolates) adds a little bit of body to the Peak Organic Stout that the high alcohol diminishes. Wrap this sweetness up with the flavor-enhancing salt and the nutty almonds and you’ve got yourself a pairing made in heaven. As you walk away, you’ll note an alcoholy vanilla note. Yeah...it’s nice.
Slumbrew Happy Sol with Taza Mexicano Ginger Chocolate
The Taza Mexicano Ginger Chocolate can vary from having a light ginger taste all the way to an intense ginger taste. The great part about pairing it with Slumbrew’s Happy Sol Blood Orange Hefeweizen is that the combination works at all ends of the spectrum. The Hefeweizen really brings out the ginger in the chocolate. Then, once that’s out there, the flavor goes perfectly with the clovey spice and orange of the beer. You end up finishing on a juicy, gingery thought and almost forget you’re eating chocolate. It’s a really neat effect!
Sixpoint The Crisp with Taza Mexicano Orange Chocolate
OK, we know what you’re thinking: “Chocolate with a pilsner?! But that’s such a light beer!” And yeah, we know it’s light. But you don’t need dark beer for dark chocolate. In this case, the pairing works because the orange is a bit subdued and almost hidden when you’re just eating the chocolate. Sixpoint’s The Crisp, though, is a crisp but full pilsner with some fruity notes at the end of the taste. These serve to bring out the orange in the chocolate and really brighten it up, so you’re left feeling as if you’ve just bitten into a big, juicy, chocolate orange. It’s delicious! These are some of our favorite types of pairings to do because, while we love a dark beer with chocolate, this is what really tends to throw people for a loop and push the bounds of what they think for food pairing.
Narragansett Porter with Taza Mexicano Coffee Chocolate
Now that we’ve done some nontraditional pairings, let’s get back to one that people will expect a little more. Taza’s Mexicano Coffee Chocolate has some pretty serious coffee to it and, while it’s on the sweeter end of their offerings by sugar content, the coffee lowers this apparent sweetness. Narragansett’s Porter, a robust, roasty and malty porter really serves to bring some sweetness to the pairing and rounds the whole thing out. Putting them together really makes the taste of both a lot more full, which is what we always look for in a pairing; 1+1=3.
This is an awesome chance to come and try some great chocolate, drink some amazing beer and meet some of the coolest brewery owners in New England! Not to mention, you'll be raising money for a great cause. Come on out and see us on Saturday, February 11th! Again, it's 2-6pm and the location is:
Taza Chocolate Factory Store
561 Windsor Street
Somerville, MA 02143
You may not have heard of Blatant Brewery yet, but we're betting you'll be hearing lots about them in the near future. Blatant Brewery is the latest project from Matt Steinberg. You may know Matt from his work at Offshore Brewing Co and Mayflower Brewing Co, two of our favorite breweries. We heard Matt was working on a new project about a year ago and have been eagerly awaiting his new beer to hit the market. Blatant IPA is the first of his new beers to hit stores and I have to say it was worth the wait. When I poured the beer to take the picture below I could smell the hops from my camera which was a good 4-5 feet away. If you can smell the hops that far away you can only imagine how good it smells when you go to take a sip.
As you raise your glass you get great notes of grapefruit and pine with a nice subtle malt in the background. Blantant markets this as a West Coast style IPA and the beer lives up to that name. There's some seriously aggressive hop flavor right out of the gate and the grapefruit and pine flavors found in the aroma translate directly to the flavor of this beer. Now here's where I'll add a caveat; I've definitely had hoppier beers, so if you're looking for a huge West Coast hop bomb this likely won't meet your expectations. However, if you're looking for a seriously hoppy beer with West Coast hop profile, but also something with some balance then you're likely going to love this beer...I did. The grapefruit flavor is definitely the dominant flavor which makes this almost an instant win for me as that's one of my favorite flavors. What I liked most though was that it never wore on me. I enjoyed the whole 22oz bottle; the last sip was just as good as the first, and that's something you don't find very often with hoppier beers. If the rest of Blatant's line is as good as their IPA we're in for some seriously good beer in the future.
It's always an exciting day when our beer of the month club comes in. It's sort of like a mini christmas each time, you don't know what you're going to get as you open the box only to discover exciting and interesting new beers. Once again we got a shipment of beers we'd never tried before and given we've tried a lot of beer and we mean A LOT that's saying something.
If you want to get the same club as us go here: Click to Join
Woodstock Inn Pig's Ear Brown Ale
Appearance: Brown, light tan head... decent size head.
Smell: Mild, slightly sweet. Smooth
Taste: Very smooth and easy to drink. Good malt flavor, light hop bitterness, but enough to keep the beer very well balanced, if not on the maltier side. A very drinkable session brown ale. Got enough flavor to make it tasty, with a god bit of roast to it. Not too flavorful to make it tough to drink a lot of it.
Woodstock Inn Red Rack Ale
Appearance: Well, surprise surprise, it' red-ish. White head that dissipates real fast.
Smell: Earthy hops... light smell to it, nothing overwhelming. Almost a little smoke in there.
Taste: Light tasting, with a nice hop bitterness to it. Balanced just like the Pig's Ear, but on the hoppy side rather than the malty side. Very drinkable, another very good session ale!
Tommyknocker Butthead Bock
Appearance: Deep brown with some amber hues and a rich but light brown head.
Smell: Malty. Brown sugar and mollases. Smells sweet.
Taste: Sweet. It tastes like a sweet Oktoberfest. Maltiness coats your mouth, it's a pretty thick beer. Definitely a tasty one to enjoy on a cold night!
Jeff Says: It's good for what it is. A bock. I just don't love sweet beers that much. But it is a good example of the style. I like it, but wouldn't seek it out.
Devon Says: I like it. It tastes like a sweet marzen, which for me worked well. Bock's are actually normally a style that I don't care for but I'd definitely drink this again.
Tommyknocker Pick Axe Pale Ale
Appearance: Dark golden with a white head
Smell: Smells good even just pouring it into the glass! Piny hops. Ryan says it smells like Christmas.
Taste: Dry, hoppy, piny and very tasty! Not overly bitter, but great hop flavor with just enough bitterness to make it crisp. This is definitely the winner of the bunch. A great session ale that we could drink all night long. This one is definitely recommended.
For the first time ever, Sierra Nevada's Estate Harvest Ale - a wet hop (fresh hop) ale made from hops grown on Sierra Nevada'a hop farm - has been bottled and released outside the brewery. It hits store shelves starting today in Chico, CA and should soon be in limited spots around the country. There will be 1400 cases and a few dozen kegs sent around the country, which is not much at all. To put it in perspective, the brewery got 95 cases and sold about 50 in six hours according to the brewers there. The good news? With their hop yard growing, they hope to possibly triple production next year. Personally, I'm going to be on the lookout for this beer THIS year!
The Sierra Nevada Chico Estate Harvest Ale comes in at:
- 6.7% abv
- 68 IBUs of freshness
- Contains locally grown and harvested Cascade (of course), Centennial and Chinook (my favorite!)
- Is finished with Cascade
Fresh hop ales are great! By not drying the hops, you get more of the natural oils and essence from the hops, giving you a much more complex hop profile. Plus, they can usually only be produced around late summer/early fall (Sierra Nevada did a fresh hop ale using southern hemisphere hops, so they were able to do one off season, but that's pretty much the only way that can happen). We highly recommend you check a few of these fresh hop ales out for yourself this season!
For more info from Sierra Nevada and to see a video of it's production, check out the official website here.
In our continued effort to make Drink Craft Beer better for you, our readers, we're going to take this chance to turn a Friday Craft Beer Poll a little inward looking. 2011 was a great year for Drink Craft Beer and we want 2012 to be even better. That said, the only way we can do that is to make you happy! So we want to know what you'd like to see more of in 2012. Do you like our interviews with brewers, brewery owners, and other craft beer industry people? Do you want us to recommend and review more beers? Do you really enjoy our multi-beer articles where we do a quick overview of what we like for different styles and/or seasons and what you might want to check out? Or, do you like hearing about our beery exploits as we go to breweries, other cities and other craft beer things we do?