When first mentioning the Bittersweet: Beer Plus Chocolate event to people, the general response I got was, “Oh, wow! That sounds amazing.” Admittedly, I had the same reaction. I mean, come on; an event whose entire purpose is to combine these two victual delights after my own heart. As they say: Two great tastes together at last. But my skepticism laid in one fact: How many truly unique, interesting beers could eight breweries come up with to make this event special. I expected to see a slew of chocolate stouts, as those are typically what are on the market these days in the “chocolate beer” category.
Lo and behold, not only was my skepticism put soundly to rest, my astonishment at how well orchestrated this event was knows no bounds.
I believe the success of this event was two fold. First and foremost, Kendall Jones of Washington Beer Blog has a keen knack for putting on events that appeal to Seattleite beer lovers. He hones in on finding the breweries and the hook to bring in new life and excitement to the Washington beer scene. Speaking with some of the Theo Chocolate reps that attended the event, they were absolutely thrilled to be working with such enthusiastic brewers that jumped at the chance to do something new and whacky with their beer. But, new and whacky is where its at these days, as small breweries throughout the state have the freedom and creative genius to develop these amazing products. Kendall is able to pick up on these natural partnerships and make them happen through organizing beer events that no one else has.
The second point, and I’ve already somewhat alluded to it: it’s all about the brewers. The eight participating breweries in this event were clearly carefully selected based on their track record of making funky beers that sound like their going to possibly be the most fowl liquids you’ve ever tasted, but end up firing off every happy cylinder in your brain. For instance, Black Raven (somewhat infamous for the weird) brought in a special version of their Wisdom Seeker Double IPA “soured” with natural yeast cultivars found in the spontaneous fermentation of the cocoa been during early states of cocoa production. If this description doesn’t sound completely bizarre to you, read it again. It’s crazy! But, they made it work in all the right ways and created a non-traditional sour, which incorporated the bitter yet mellow characteristics of Theo chocolate.
I’d argue the natural characteristics of chocolate shone through in all of the beers being poured last night. There were pale ales brought in by Two Beers Brewing and Elysian Brewing that had the typical hop flavor profiles of a their traditional brews, nicely rounded out and mellowed by the addition of the Theo chocolate nibs or juice. Most unique, and by far one of the biggest crowd pleasers of the evening, was Naked City Brewing’s phenomenal concoction, the Scholalade Weizen. Don’t bother trying to google that one, you won’t find it anywhere but at Don Webb’s booth last night at Bittersweet. The Scholalade was an American style hefeweizen brewed with 55% pale malt, 45% white wheat and three pounds of Theo roasted cocoa nibs. After fermentation, the beer was then blended with Theo chocolate “juice” to create a beer that is rich in chocolate flavor while still holding the typical weizen characteristics, which are light and refreshing. At 5.2% alcohol by volume, this beer is a dangerously delicious, drinkable beer that is parable with most any meal or dessert. Though, my personal recommendation is a nice rich assortment of cheeses with a few pints of the Scholalade to wash it all down. Crossing my fingers that this beer created enough chatter to impress upon Naked City that this is a must-brew beer for the future.
The event not only highlighted the creativity of the beer community, but also raised money for Seattle non-profit organization, FamilyWorks. Event participants were encouraged to “vote” for their favorite beers of the night by putting dollar donations in the tip boxes places at each brewer’s booth. All proceeds from these tips went directly to FamilyWorks at the end of the night.
I said it before after attending the Craft Beer + Food event over a month ago, which was Washington Beer Blog’s first event, but I’ll say it again, and again. And likely again. Kendall knows his stuff. His events have sold out both times, and I’m guessing his next will too. So be sure to be on the look out for what he’s brewing up next.
Kudos to Kendall Jones for putting together a truly magical beer event that keeps us beer lovers using our noggins when drinking beer and impresses us with the vast possibilities that beer has to offer. Cheers!