by Matt Brasch aka The Brewholder
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Iron Hill Brewery – Chestnut Hill hosted the perfect pairing event – “Beer & Chocolate.” On Wednesday, February 4, 2015, Master Chocolatier Christopher Curtin of Éclat Chocolate in West Chester brought his world famous talents to Chestnut Hill for a small group to enjoy.
Chris LaPierre, “Lappy,” Iron Hill CH’s Head Brewer, met Curtin when Lappy was the head brewer at Iron Hill’s West Chester location. “We had a beer and chocolate pairing with Chris (Curtin) about eight years ago, and we knew it was time for another.” Iron Hill CH Head Chef Jared Cannon – Iron Hill’s 2014 “Iron Chef” – worked with Curtin for this event to create six outstanding beer and chocolate pairings.
The decadent evening began with a “Champagne Truffle” – a dark chocolate ball coated in a fine white sugar and filled with soft chocolate made with real French champagne. This was paired with “Lappy New Beer,” a hoppy American Saison Chris created for New Year 2014. The combination of these two made all the attendees realize that they were in for a special treat that night.
The next course began with a glass of Iron Hill’s Winter Warmer, a nicely spiced dark ale brewed with classic winter spices including cinnamon and nutmeg. Jared and Chris perfectly paired the Winter Warmer with the “Calvados Truffle,” filled with a soft and creamy apple-flavored caramel that brought up memories of apple pie.
The ultimate beer and chocolate pairing of the night was revealed in the third course. Chris served his “Beer Truffle” – the chocolate ganache inside the morsel was infused with Victory Brewing Company’s Hop Devil Beer. This was paired with Ironbound Ale, one of Iron Hill’s flagship brews that we were told will be seeing less production. In its place Iron Hill will serve the Ore House IPA – a new creation with a fantastic citrus and pine aroma.
The fourth course was an excellent complimentary pairing of the “Single Malt Truffle” and Iron Hill’s Bourbon McMaster. The truffle was made with single malt whiskey from Islay, and the Bourbon McMaster – a bourbon aged Wee Heavy – enhanced the peat flavor of the chocolate.
The last truffle infused with spirits for the night was the “Shiraz Truffle” – a dark chocolate shell filled with a creamy milk chocolate ganache infused with Boxer Shiraz from Australia’s Mollydooker Winery. The hint of the wine in the chocolate was enhanced by FRED – Iron Hill’s Flemish Red Ale.
The final, and most elegant, truffle was the “Peruvian Pure Nacional Truffle.” As Curtin explained, Peruvian Pure Nacional chocolate is the rarest in the world and he travels to Peru during the harvest of the beans. The dark ganache in the truffle provides fruity and floral flavors with mild nutty undertones. This exquisite treat was paired with another – Iron Hill’s award-winning Russian Imperial Stout. The combination of the two was outstanding, but the realization that it was the final course was bittersweet.
It is hard to say “no” to chocolate or beer alone, but the combination of the two is irrefutable. The skilled craftsmanship of Lappy’s handcrafted brews and Curtin’s delectable chocolates – and his “liquid caramel” – enhance the flavors to meld into a simply sinful experience. If you missed this event, take some growlers to Iron Hill and place an online order with Éclat Chocolates (or go to Éclat in West Chester)- you can recreate the pairings at home without the fear of embarrassment when the moans of pleasure escape your lips!