A little known fact about my hometown is what an amazing chocolate scene it has! There are many high quality chocolatiers in and around Salt Lake City, making it a real hub for the chocolate connoisseur. Utah chocolate makers import cacao beans from all over the world to create products with complex flavors that also happen to go well with beer. If you’re the adventurous type, join me for a special pairing of chocolate and beer that’s sure to make you weep with ecstasy.
I gathered a variety of Utah-made chocolate all found at my local Harmons Grocery store. If you don’t live in Utah (so sorry), you can still purchase them via the internets. Since the chocolate is local, I decided to keep the beer local too. Of course, feel free to try alternative beer choices brewed in your neck of the woods.
Located in Salt Lake City, Utah, this award winning “bean to bar” organic chocolate is made by Scott Querry and DeAnn Wallin. Scott is the one who really turned me onto chocolate by explaining how beans take on unique characteristics based on the regions they come from. Our previous blog posts, “Pairing Beer and Cheese: Winter Edition” and “Summer Edition” feature chocolate from Solstice. Their chocolate is consistently some of the best out there.
Ecuador – Grown by the Camino Verde Estate on the southern coastline of Ecuador, these sweet, aromatic cacao beans have delightful notes of brown sugar, caramel, banana, and cream.
Pair with: Malt forward beers that won’t overpower the chocolate’s subtle notes and Belgian style beer with banana esters.
- Shades of Pale Espresso Stout – This is my favorite! It tastes like coffee, banana, cream, and graham crackers.
- Proper Salted Caramel Porter – Brings out the sweetness in the chocolate and the salt in the beer.
- Red Rock Bobcat Nutbrown Ale – Rich caramel and nuts.
- 2 Row Brewing Dangereux Farmhouse Ale – Creates some nice banana notes.
Madagascar – Crafted from Sambirano cacao beans cultivated in a tropical climate along the Sambirano River. This chocolate is bold and tangy with hints of citrus and berries that can be attributed to French Colonial plantations that once occupied the land.
Pair with: IPAs, baby! This chocolate is bold and has wonderful citrus notes that can hold their own with hoppy beers, even a full-flavored double IPA.
- 2 Row Brewing Random Double IPA and Proper Faultline Red IPA – Both amazing!
- Uinta Rise and Pine Hoppy Dark Ale – It’s all about the hops, and this beer works well.
- Uinta Cutthroat Winter Pale – In this case, the chocolate accentuates the spices in the beer.
Durci implores you to “rediscover chocolate!” Located south of Salt Lake in Lindon, Utah, they import beans from native farmers in South and Central America. The packaging is really beautiful and reminds me of a CD case with album artwork depicting the treat inside. My sense is that they are up there with Solstice as far as quality is concerned.
Joya Rara – Translates to “rare jewel”, this is a limited edition bar from Marañon, Peru made with an heirloom white cacao bean that was recently rediscovered. It has floral, herbal, and vibrant stone fruit flavors.
Pair with: Beer with subtle flavors. The floral/herbal and fruit notes mingle nicely with hops. Saison styles, porters, wheat beers, and IPA’s all seem to work well.
- 2 Row Brewing Dangereux Farmhouse Ale – Brings out the stone fruit in the chocolate.
- 2 Row Brewing Accelerator IPA – The chocolate’s floral, herbal, and stone fruit notes complement the hops.
- Shades of Pale Jack Wagon Wheat – Presents the floral and herbal notes in both the chocolate and beer.
Defiant Viajero – Or “defiant traveler”, this milk chocolate hails from Chuao, Venezuela. It begins with flavors of cherry cordial that quickly give way to rich chocolate with hints of fig. I’m in love!
Pair with: Malty/dark beers and Saison styles.
- Uinta Season Pass Vanilla Porter – This tastes like cherry cola! Really good!
- Talisman Iron Age Oatmeal Stout – Complements the creaminess of the chocolate.
- Red Rock Bobcat Nutbrown Ale – Intensifies the sweetness of the cherry flavor.
- 2 Row Brewing Dangereux Farmhouse Ale – Creamy banana cherry cordial!
Made at 7,000 feet in Park City, Utah, this small-batch chocolate is made in the European style. Robbie Stout and Anna Davies have been making chocolate under this ornate banner since 2010 and celebrate the complexity of the cacao bean through their product.
Belize – A wonderful balance of fruity, earthy, and nutty flavors. This chocolate has notes of dried fig, cherry, and tobacco.
Pair with: Belgian/Saison styles and stouts.
- Talisman Iron Age Oatmeal Stout – The rich malts mingle nicely with the cherry and fig in the chocolate.
- Red Rock Le Quatre Saison – Let’s the chocolate shine, highlights the cherry.
- 2 Row Brewing Dangereux Farmhouse Ale – The spiciness in both the beer and the chocolate is displayed. Notes of bitter tobacco with the cherry finish.
Founder Art Pollard created Amano to be uncompromising in flavor and quality. As a result, this Ogden chocolate maker has earned multiple international and American awards.
Morobe – In the wild lands of Papua New Guinea, these cacao beans are one of the hidden jewels of the world. The chocolate is infused with wild notes of grapefruit, earthiness, and leathery-ness.
Pair with: A variety of styles. The strong grapefruit lends itself to fruit notes while the earthiness goes well with malty beers.
- Red Rock Le Quatre Saison – The earthy leathery-ness of the chocolate is nice with this style.
- Shades of Pale Jack Wagon Wheat – Bright and crisp. Brings out the raisin flavor in the beer.
- Talisman Blood Orange Wheat – Grapefruit and orange mingle nicely.
- Uinta Season Pass Vanilla Porter – Bright flavors balance with the vanilla sweetness of the beer. Malts combine with the chocolate’s earthiness.
- Squatters Outer Darkness Russian Imperial Stout – Accentuates the sharpness of the grapefruit. The rich smokiness of the beer goes well with the earthy leather.
Dos Rios – This brightly flavored chocolate made with beans from the Dominican Republic tastes like oranges, cinnamon, and clove, with notes of blueberry and lavender. One of my favorites of the bunch!
Pair with: Anything hoppy, fruity, rich, and malty. The boldness of the chocolate can handle it!
- 2 Row Brewing Dangereux Farmhouse Ale – This beer is amazing with a variety of the chocolates, especially this one! It brings out the vibrant orange and has a nice juicy finish.
- Talisman Blood Orange Wheat – A no-brainer! One of my favorite pairings.
- 2 Row Brewing Random Double IPA – Bold flavors and lavender on the finish.
- Talisman Iron Age Oatmeal Stout – The richness of a stout stands up well to the intensity of the chocolate.
- Uinta Rise and Pine Hoppy Dark Ale – Very smooth; the hops play with the orange.
Thanks for joining me on this journey of chocolate and beergasms! I hope you’ve enjoyed indulging yourself in the satisfying pleasures our local artisans have to offer. Try this at home and let us know what pairings you loved!