Food and Drink

What to eat with that Chocolate Ale

Boulevard’s ambassador brewer, Jeremy Danner, picks his perfect pairings

It’s time again to celebrate the union of one of KC’s best-loved couples: Boulevard Brewing Company and Christopher Elbow Chocolates. Unless you’ve been buried under a ton a ton of snow, you’ve no doubt heard the brewery has just released this year’s Chocolate Ale, made in collaboration with Elbow. The limited-release brew is already on tap in a number of bars and restaurants and bottles will be in selected stores starting Feb. 6 (weather willing). If past years are any indication, it won’t stick around for long.

Thanks to its complex characteristics (and ABV of 9.1%), Boulevard Brewery Chocolate Ale is meant to be savored. “We worked hard to create a beer that we felt was true to Elbow’s vision in the expression and manipulation of chocolate flavors, and this beer certainly can stand alone as a liquid dessert to finish a meal,” says Boulevard’s ambassador brewer, Jeremy Danner.

Of course, as with wine, beer also can enhance or be enhanced by the right food pairing. Most people think to pair Chocolate Ale with a chocolate dessert, which is fine, says Danner, but consider the base beer to really make the flavors of both the ale and the dish pop. “Chocolate Ale was designed as a chocolate vehicle, but the base beer features subtle caramel and wheat notes accented with a fruitiness contributed by fermentation with a Scottish yeast strain,” says Danner, adding that he thinks spiced ginger cookies would be a better dessert pairing.

Here are few of Danner’s other pairing suggestions:

The Rieger’s pork soup: The beer’s rich chocolate flavors meld with the soup, but the crisp, dryness of the beer prevents the pairing from becoming too heavy and the lively carbonation scrubs the palate. A fresh palate is ready to taste chef Howard Hanna’s soup like it’s the first taste each time. To be honest, I’d pair any beer with this soup. It’s killer.

Glace’s Salted Pretzel ice cream: Pair the beer with the ice cream or make a float. It’s hard to mess this one up. One of the flavors lacking in the Chocolate Ale, saltiness, is provided by the ice cream. The slight nuttiness from the use of caracrystal wheat in the base of the beer bridges the gap between the beer and the bready flavor from the pretzels.

Anything with mole sauce: Chocolate isn’t necessarily a dominant flavor in a good mole sauce, but Chocolate Ale paired with mole will serve the same purpose as the inclusion of chocolate in the recipe. The slight malt sweetness in Boulevard Brewery Chocolate Ale will tame the heat from chili peppers while the chocolate and vanilla flavors in the beer play on the spice complexity of the sauce.