Chocolate and beer – great on their own but surely not together. But a small brewery believes it has cracked it – and now it is to sell internationally.
The Brewshed in Bury St Edmunds has made a cocoa beer for retailer Hotel Chocolat which will be available in its shops from next week,
But fear not – it actually tastes very nice.
David Marjoram who runs the Brewshed was approached by Hotel Chocolat back in the Autumn.
“They wanted a beer that involved cocoa in the process and they asked if we would be interested in teaming up and producing it for them.
“We had a meeting with them, We tried some of the other chocolate beers on the market and they said ‘We don’t want this’,” said David.
The concern was not to make a beer that was too chocolatey and would not appeal to beer drinkers.
Instead David and the representatives from Hotel Chocolat wanted a beer where the cocoa enhances the flavours,
“We only use cocoa in this country as a sweetener, not like in South America where they add it to their food, to dishes like chilli, to bring out the flavours,” said David.
Together with his head brewer Mike Skelton, David decided to use a porter with cocoa shells.
“Porter is a naturally slightly sweeter, less bitter beer,” said David.
“We felt therefore cocoa would offset that natural sweetness well and the cocoa would give a bit of bitterness.”
The result is subtle.
“I am really pleased with the end result.
“I dont think it is what people would imagine or expect from a cocoa beer.
“It is still first and foremost a fairly traditional beer but you get that definite hint of cocoa on your nose, less so on the palate.
“We got the first trial together and they approved it straight away,” David said.
Now Hotel Chocolat is to roll the beer out to it shops including branches in Cambridge and Norwich – which it will sell as part of its new Cocoa Cusine range.
It also has branches in New York, Boston, Amsterdam and Copenhagen, and is available to buy-online at www.hotelchocolat.com
David said he was delighted to have been asked to make the beer.
“It is fantastic for us to be associated with the Hotel Chocolat brand,” said David.
Adam Geileskey, Head of Chocolate Development for Hotel Chocolat said: “It is something I have always wanted to do.
“We wanted to show the power of cocoa.
“For me it was a really obvious thing. Chocolate beer has been made by other people before but in my opinion it has never been any good.
“It has been a bit too sweet too sickly. I think the mistake people make is in making it too chocolately That is not a good combination.
“In the West we eat chocolate but we are quite unadventurous with what we do with cocoa.
“I live in Bury and the One Bull owned by David is one of the pubs I drink in.
“I approached David and he was really up for it.
“The first thing we did was work together to look at extracting some of the cocoa flavour from cocoa shells, the by-product from making chocolate.
“Porter seemed logical as it already has some chocolately notes to it.
“We got really good results and the initial feedback has been really positive.
“I am really proud of it, it is really exciting.”
He said it is early days but if it is successful he will look to work with David on at least another chocolate beer and possibly even a draught version.
“I feel there is more to it,” said Adam.
Meanwhile he said he hopes to persuade his bosses to open a Hotel Chocolat in Bury.
“I would love to have a Hotel Chocolat in Bury but as far as I am awareb there are no immediate plans,” he said.