Chocolate and beer; two of my favourite things. What better than to put them together into a single glass of scrumptiousness? Chocolate beers, for me at least, provide some of the most blissful moments of beer drinking, but it doesn’t always work…
There is some debate in the beer world about the legitimacy of flavoured beers. I’m not sure where this comes from, but it may have something to do with the Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law that was first proposed in 1487, and actually made law in 1516. This originally stated that only water, barley and hops could be used to make beer, though this was later relaxed to allow sugar, wheat and yeast. This of course was never law outside Germany, and beers made from a multitude of ingredients have always been available elsewhere.
Personally, I see no reason why ingredients cannot be added to beer in order to add flavour – fruit is the obvious one, so I have no objection to the adding of chocolate to beer.
The first chocolate beer I’m going to review is Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. I first started drinking this 5.2% ABV beer back in the 1990s, but I don’t know how long it was brewed before that. Let’s just say it’s an old favourite. It pours black, with a good thick brown head. The smell is immediately chocolate, rich and smooth. The mouthfeel is smooth and silky. Dark roasted malt hits the palate first with smooth dark chocolate sneaking in underneath. There’s a pleasant zingy finish with the chocolate flavour growing after the swallow.
Saltaire Triple Chocaholic is another stout, lighter at 4.8% ABV. Again, the colour is black. ‘Triple’ in the beer’s name refers to the three chocolate flavourings added to the brew – chocolate essence, chocolate syrup and cocoa. The first thing to note about this beer is its huge chocolate smell. The smell rises out of the glass whilst being poured. The taste is initially hoppy and slightly bitter. There is then an enormous rush of strong, rich, dark chocolate flavour, which fades to a satisfying dark bitter finish. This beer is dark, bitter and absolutely wonderful.
Titanic’s entry into the chocolate stakes comes in the form of Titanic Chocolate and Vanilla Stout, which is currently available in bottles labelled for Morrison’s supermarket. The Titanic brew is slightly lighter than the Saltaire at 4.5%. Again it pours black with a brown head, but here the head collapses swiftly. The smell is an exquisite sweet chocolate – fabulous! Very very smooth and creamy. The taste is dry and malty with a superb overlying sweet chocolate taste. Right at the end of the taste there is an excellent hoppy bitter twist. It’s hard to put into words how much I like this beer. I’ve also had it from the cask in Titanic’s part-owned pub the White Star in Stoke-on-Trent. It is simply magic.
Stockport-based brewer Robinson’s have also entered the chocolate stakes with a flavoured version of their famous Old Tom strong ale. Chocolate Tom, like its parent brew, is 6%. It is a deep reddish-orange in colour and forms a close-packed head which is stable and can form itself into weird-shaped sculptures. This beer is velvety smooth in the mouth. The dominant flavours are chocolate and vanilla. The parent beer can be tasted throughout, making a nice fruity contrast to the chocolate and vanilla. The ending is complex with slight spirituous overtones familiar from Old Tom, a smooth bitterness and hints of a rich fruitiness. Beautiful.
Finally, I come to Floris Chocolat. Unfortunately, this is where it all goes wrong for me. The Floris range of beers (all the Floris range are flavoured) is brewed by the Huyghe Brewery in Belgium. This brewery produces a vast amount of beer, including Delirium Tremens and the Mongozo range – flavoured more exotically than the Floris range. Maybe it’s the huge output, maybe it’s the desire to produce a range with many flavours, I don’t know, but somewhere this just doesn’t succeed. Basically, I think, they brew a fairly ordinary beer and then add the flavourings required, be it honey, cherry, mango, chocolate or whatever. Floris Chocolat tastes like an ordinary beer with buckets of sweet chocolate syrup thrown in. It tastes like it’s been fairly haphazardly thrown together, and the result is just unpleasant. It’s oversweet and a bit sickly. I know there will be people (maybe many people) who will disagree with me on this one, but for me – it’s a no, I’m afraid.
Words and images are my copyright, please respect that. All you have to do is ask. Thank you.