It is rare these days for any one person to find themselves on the forefront of exploration and discovery. But sometimes, like maybe when the planets properly align – or something, one can find themselves standing on the edge of what has been accomplished and what has yet to be discovered. For The Pint, that moment recently presented itself in the form of a chocolate and beer pairing. We had a double date with destiny and Old Town Fort Collins based bean-to-bar chocolate shop, Nuance Chocolate.

Nuance Chocolate, was founded just over a year ago by Toby Gadd and his wife Alix. Self-admitted chocoholics they started their business as a result of their obsession. With a passion for ethically sourced, quality chocolate, the couple, through happenstance, ended up founding a bean-to-bar chocolate production facility and shop that boasts the world’s largest selection of single origin chocolate. With over 20 varieties sourced from around the world, Nuance can provide customers with an experience that is unmatched anywhere in the world. Pair that with high-quality and rare beer, and you are now entering uncharted waters.

Our pairing was different. With neither of us having a true understanding of where to begin – The Pint showed up with a wide variety of beer, and Gadd with his chocolate; we felt like astronauts staring at the deep expanse of outer space.

Our starting beer line-up went something like this: Odell Brewing 90 Shilling, Crabtree Brewing Imperial Russian Stout, Crabtree Brewing Cab Sauv. Barrel Aged Quad, Station 26 Tangerine Cream Ale, Wiley Roots Key Lime Carousel Gose, Rodenbach Grand Cru, and Prairie Artisan Ales “Bomb!” Stout. The Single origin chocolate varieties: Honduras, Bolivia, Belize, Dominican Republic, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Venezuela, Madagascar, Ghana, and Nicaragua. Plus: Zurich Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate, Dark Milk Chocolate. Mind you, every one of these chocolates, much like the beer, boasted very different flavor characteristics, each separate and unique. Flavors ranging from honey and vanilla found in the Ghana origin, to deep tobacco and molasses notes found in the Nicaragua variety.

With that we went at it, pairing everything with everything, in essence looking for pairings that not only tasted “good” together but looking for pairings that created new, and exciting flavors. The following pairings are just a cross-section of what happened on our journey.

As our baseline we began our pairing session with Odell 90 Shilling. Most of the chocolate we paired with 90 Shilling did not successfully create new and exciting flavors and only seemed to highlight the beer’s moderate hop profile, leaving one’s mouth with an undesired lingering bitterness. Except for one. Paired with Nuance’s Uganda origin bar, as if by magic, the beer took a backseat to the chocolate and together they undoubtedly enhanced the chocolate’s inherent honey characteristics. This left our tastebuds swimming in a pool of sweet goodness, with no lingering bitterness to note.

Odell 90 Shilling + Nuance Single Origin Uganda = A

The simplest and most obvious pairing took place between Station 26 Tangerine Cream Ale, and Nuance’s house-made white chocolate (yes, it is actually “chocolate” and is made with real cocoa butter). The tangerine cream ale, on it’s own, is an impressive take on an orange creamsicle, presented in beer form. Tangerine essence dominates with obligatory notes of vanilla lingering in the background, though very little overall sweetness. This lack of sweetness in the beer is precisely where the white chocolate steps in. A bite of white chocolate, a sip of beer and you are instantly transported to those long-ago childhood summers. The sweetness and vanilla notes of the white chocolate enhanced all beer characteristics. Pairing with other strong dark chocolates ended up pushing the beer to the side, leaving us wondering why we even tried.

Nuance White Chocolate + Station 26 Tangerine Cream Ale = A

By unanimous decision, the champion pairing of the evening took place between Nuances Single Origin Nicaragua bar paired with Crabtree Brewing’s Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Aged Belgian Quadrupel. On it’s own the beer boasts a heavy oakiness, and deep dried red fruit characteristics. A big, strong beer such as this would logically need a big strong chocolate to stand up to it. The strong, leaf-tobacco sensation present in Nuance’s Nicaragua bar, fit the bill. The perfect pairing for late night pontificating. Both the beer and the chocolate held their own, neither taking over the other’s flavor profile. Moving back and forth between the two, a seamless transition between dried red fruits and deep tobacco and molasses took place. It felt as if one were enjoying a late night cigar with a fine glass of wine, but it was better, because: beer and chocolate.

Nuance’s Nicaragua Single Origin Bar + Crabtree Brewing Cab. Sauv. Barrel Aged Belgian Quad = A+

Overall the pairing session was a success, and for anybody wanting to impress their dates this Valentine’s Day, take note. If you can’t find a specific beer presented in this article, we found that in general, darker, barrel aged beers presented better with the single origin chocolates, but use caution, some beers no matter what they were paired with completely wiped out the chocolate. Though, it is probably best to just stop by Nuance Chocolates located at 214 Pine Street in Old Town Fort Collins and ask for Toby. He will certainly be able to give a few tips. Cheers!


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