Saturday, November 3, 2012

BC Craft Beer Month – Cocoa Nymph

Not only was this event pairing BC beers with Cocoa Nymph chocolate during BC Craft Beer Month, but it was also my first Pink Pints event! Six beers, two combo beers and seven chocolate pairings. Yummy!

The cost to attend was $35, with proceeds going to Breast Cancer. Beer, chocolate and donations. Win, chocolatey win, win.

Our very own Lundy Dale, who I might add is one of only two female Certified Cicerones in Canada, poured and introduced each beer. While Lundy was pouring for the twenty guests, Cocoa Nymph owner, Rachel Sawatzky, dropped off a decedent chocolate at each setting. Rachel would describe the truffle (through the ooohs! and ahhhhhs! ) and why she paired this particular chocolate with the beer.

Nope, not pairing one. Someone was a little anxious and ate the
chocolate... So, here are our dogs!

Pairing One

Pumpkinhead – Fernie Brewing; 5% ABV
o   What’s unique about this pumpkin ale is that they use their nut brown ale as the base rather than the traditional ale. This brought out a nuttiness to the pumpkin beer along with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and coriander. I found it very smooth, well balanced and with light carbonation.

Chocolate Truffle: “Erin”
o   Bailey’s ganache, milk chocolate and oh so very creamy.  What inspired Rachel to pair the pumpkin with the Baileys came from making Bailey’s whip cream for her pumpkin pie. Well played, Rachel, well played.

Valley Chestnut and "Rosie"

Pairing Two

Valley Chestnut – Whistler Brewing; 5% ABV
o   Roasted chestnuts, yes, chestnuts in beer. It’s actually a good combo and rather unique. The nuttiness is obviously prominent but there are also vanilla notes present and the result is a well balanced beer.

Chocolate Truffle: “Rosie”
o   Guess what flavour Rosie is – go ahead, guess! No, not rose petals, but good try! Salted Rosemary, baby, and damn, was it every good! I quite enjoyed this truffle and thought the pairing worked well with the chestnut ale.

Ginger Beer & "Liz"

Pairing Three

Ginger Beer – Phillips Brewing; 5% ABV
o   Ginger – and lots of it in this brew. Not my kind of beer but I can see how some would like the sharp ginger flavours and floral notes. Anyone want a bottle? The one that’s been sitting in the fridge isn’t going to hit my lips anytime soon.

Chocolate Truffle: “Liz”
o   This is what Rachel noted as her classic truffle – it goes with anything. I was pleasantly surprised that we didn’t get a ginger truffle, which is good since I’ve been known to spit out ginger chocolates that I mistook for a hard caramel in the Purdy’s box. This truffle was delightful – basic white and dark chocolate meant to contrast the ginger beer.

Pumpkin Ale & "Barnabas the Tortoise"

Pairing Four

Pumpkin Ale – Lighthouse Brewing; 5.5% ABV
o   Unlike the Pumpkinhead, this pumpkin ale is brewed with an amber base. It’s a lighter ale and the spices are more prominent – nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves. It’s a nice pumpkin beer and one that you could probably get non-beer drinkers to try as it doesn’t have overpowering flavours.

Chocolate Truffle: “Barnabas the Tortoise”
o   Brandied caramel, milk chocolate ganache with pecan. The sweetness of the truffle worked well with the spices in the pumpkin ale. I found the pecan too sweet for my liking, but enjoyed the truffle portion. .

Pumpkin Ale/Dark Chocolate Porter & Cocoa Nibs

Bonus Beer! Lundy mixed the Pumpkin Ale and Lighthouse Brewing’s Dark Chocolate Porter. The combo really worked as it enhanced the flavour in the spices and the addition of a chocolate porter gave this a unique taste. Pumpkin ales and porters blend well and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this in Lighthouse’s line up next year as a new seasonal.

Rachel gave us some cocoa nibs to try with this beer. Cocoa nibs are what most brewers use in their beers. They definitely had a bitterness to them but they weren’t as bitter as I would have expected.

Dark Star Stout & "Illa"

Pairing Five

Dark Start Stout – R&B Brewing; 4.6% ABV
o   The classic stout aromas and flavours of espresso, cocoa and malt graced this oatmeal stout. The carbonation stood out for me on this – perhaps because I was pairing it with the smoothness of the truffle.

Chocolate Truffle: “Illa”
o   This was my favourite truffle, but it’s not a tough sell to ask me to have a salted dark caramel. Devine.

Frambozën & Raspberry Truffle

Pairing Six

Frambozën –Steamworks Brewing; 7.0% ABV
o   Raspberry, raspberry, raspberry! Fresh berries from the Fraser Valley, tart and appropriately a pink beer. Noticeable carbonation and a pleasant fruit beer.

Chocolate Truffle:
o   Rachel used the Frambozën to make a raspberry truffle and the outcome was amazing. She didn’t need to supplement it with additional raspberries as the beer provided enough flavour.

Frambozën/Dark Chocolate Porter & Sesamo Bianco

Second Bonus Round! This time, it was the Frambozën paired with the Lighthouse Dark Chocolate Porter. Another great combo – the chocolate mellowed out the carbonation in the raspberry ale and who doesn’t love chocolate and berries??

With bonus round beer comes bonus round chocolate! Woo hoo! The Sesamo Bianco was paired with this – red wine, white chocolate and toasted sesame seeds. This was akin to a savory pretzel with a hint of caramel. So good, and unique, that I bought a bag to take home.

I should note that all of the local breweries donated their beers to this event and thus, more money was donated to Breast Cancer. Craft beer people really are the best!

When I wasn’t busy tasting the beers and chocolates, I was scoping out the display shelves to plot what to take home for my husband and I to devour. The Sesamo Bianco was a must along with Sea Nymph - dark chocolate with sea salt and English toffee (I bought the bar and bark of this!) and a Dark Peanut Butter Bar. For the integrity of this post, I thought it was mandatory to try each of them. Twice.

My thanks to Lundy and Rachel for organizing and hosting such a great event. Looking forward to the next one!

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