Back in the ’90s, a shitty alternative band named Marcy Playground wrote a shitty song called “Sex and Candy” that shitty rock stations were more than happy to overplay for parent-hating youths.
Those were some dark days.
But setting aside the subjective judgments about the band’s songwriting abilities, the song did present listeners with an interesting thought: sex AND candy. Not just one and then the other, but BOTH at the same time. Imagine the young minds running wild with the possibility of enjoying two vices at once.
That brings us to our beer taste-off for April’s Vice issue of Revue. We got to thinking: What other vice could one combine with craft beer (insomuch as craft beer is a vice)?
Chocolate, of course.
Sure, you could drink a beer and eat some chocolate, but many craft brewers have both vices covered with an all-in-one product.
Mama, this surely is not a dream; it’s wonderful reality.
We assembled 10 chocolate-based beers for a blind taste test, conducted by the following judges:
- Jayson Bussa, a raging chocoholic and digital editor of Revue
- David Edsenga, Grand Rapids attorney and craft beer aficionado
- Nick Manes, staff writer at MiBiz and an avid vapist
- Tim Mroz, a homebrewer and communications exec for a local nonprofit
Here’s what they had to say.
Founders Brewing Co.
Grand Rapids, Mich. — 7.8% ABV
Exactly what you’d expect from a well-done stout brewed with chocolate and raspberries. It has a dark appearance with good lacing and a khaki head. The nose has a huge hit of raspberries, which is also present in the flavor. The beer doesn’t go overboard on the chocolate, but it’s still an awesome beer. As one reviewer described it: “Unique, over-the-top — Kanye-esque.”
Southern Tier Brewing Co.
Lakewood, N.Y. — 10.0% ABV
This stout brewed with chocolate was thick and dark with a spicy nose and a big body. One reviewer went so far as to note its “sexy, dark smell that balanced the chocolate with a slightly spicy finish.” Another summed it up: “An excellent beer with an incredible nose. It’s about as solid as they come.”
The Chocolate Manifesto
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
Barrie, Ontario, Canada —10.0% ABV
How much chocolate can one beer have? This one featured three different kinds. It had nice, thick lacing. This is a stick-to-the-glass kind of beer. There’s a sweet smell of milk chocolate with an awesome flavor, but a slightly chemical aftertaste. It’s definitely King Chocolate, but probably not a beer you’d want to drink all night. Another judge named it “Dolph Lundgren.”
Organic Chocolate Stout
Samuel Smith’s Brewery
Yorkshire, U.K. — 5.0% ABV
This beer was more on the lighter side of dark beers and slightly thin, but it’s heavy on the chocolate up front. “The nose is what makes this beer,” one reviewer noted. It also has a pleasant, somewhat dry finish. The beer’s chocolate flavor and seemingly low alcohol and light body led another reviewer to describe it as “Iggy Azalea” — whatever that means.
Newport, Ore. — 6.0% ABV
When sampling this beer made with imported chocolate, chocolate malt and rolled oats, the reviewers noted a welcome hoppy bitterness. Even though it’s on the plain side of beers — particularly when sampled after two heavyweights — it was noted for its drinkability.
New Belgium Brewing Co.
Fort Collins, Colo. — 9.0% ABV
As a chocolate porter spiced with ancho, guajillo and chipotle peppers, this beer was a bit of an outlier compared to the others. Reviewers immediately picked up the spicy, pepper aroma. The peppers kicked in for the finish, but there were also hints of chocolate and cinnamon. One reviewer, who seems to have a penchant for naming beers after pop stars, called it “Ricky Martin.”
Chocolade Koffie Stout
Odd Side Ales
Grand Haven, Mich. — 6.0% ABV
It’s a dark beer with a slight head and no carbonation. Coffee presents itself in the nose, and that carries over to the flavor where it’s mixed with some chocolate. However, reviewers noted there was an off flavor from the yeast on the finish. As a stout made with coffee, it leans more on the java flavors than the chocolate.
Kay-Lips-O Chocolate Milk Stout
Boatyard Brewing Co.
Kalamazoo, Mich. — 4.8% ABV
This stout poured with a great head and featured dark lacing. There was an earthy, hoppy aroma to this beer, and the taste was very similar. It’s a light, hopped-up stout with not much chocolate to speak of. As one reviewer noted, “It’s most complex on the palate, but not well assembled.”
Rochester Mills Beer Co.
Rochester, Mich. — 6.0% ABV
Flat with no head. The smell was decent with some coffee and chocolate, but it was let down by the watery body and the artificial flavors. Reviewers described it thusly: “Nothing to write home about,” and “middle of the road, like a Jonas Brother.”
Lucky Girl Brewing Co.
Grand Junction, Mich. — 8.7% ABV
As a lager brewed with cocoa, this was another outlier in the test. While the aroma featured some chocolate, the flavor did not. It was also amber in color, and the judges clearly favored their chocolate beers darker.