Bar Hops: Artisan chocolate discovers the hottest ingredient in beer

Eric Parkes Creates Amazing Flavors Inside Aeronauts Brewing in Somerville, Mass., but he’s not a brewer, he’s a chocolatier. Parkes short Somerville chocolate right across from the brewery lobby, and the smells of the brewery influenced its chocolate. He was largely unfamiliar with the brewing process before moving into the establishment, and his senses were immediately intrigued.

“I would float these amazing aromas in my shop,” he explains. “I asked what it was, and they said it was mostly hops when they added them to a boil. I asked the brewer to give me some, and he recommended a few varieties.

That relationship has led to several hops-infused chocolate bars, and Parkes isn’t the only bean-to-bar chocolatier working with beer’s most intriguing ingredient. Hops-infused chocolate is now more than just a curiosity – it’s becoming a new avenue to explore the nuances of the ingredient.

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Make chocolate and add hops

Chocolate is made from the fruit of the tropical cacao tree, and craft (or bean-to-bar) chocolate emphasizes quality and variety in the same way that craft beer distinguishes itself from macro- beer. Additionally, major confectionery companies are known to use cocoa contaminated with Abuse of human rightsbut most artisan chocolatiers source cocoa ethically. They build relationships with farms and brokers who pay a fair price and ensure that workers have been treated fairly, and they seek to showcase the unique terroir of cocoa from different parts of the world.

These distinctions are similar to the variations between hop varieties, and Parkes used several different methods to combine the two in bar form. His most successful method was a simple air infusion. “Chocolate absorbs flavors from things near which it is stored,” says Adam Dick of Chocolate Dick Taylor in Eureka, California. “Leave the chocolate next to the stinky cheese in the fridge, and it will eventually taste the same.”

Dick Taylor’s recent Vanilla Citrus Stout bar was made by aging finished chocolate bars in airtight plastic tubs for several weeks with Cascade whole-cone hops. Parkes found the same process successful, especially for bars with more delicate chocolate profiles. “If you want the hop flavors without the bitterness, you do an air infusion,” he explains. “It’s the cleanest smell.”

Parkes sources its cocoa from Finca Elvesia in the Dominican Republic, a variety with an assertive fruitiness. He found that hop varieties with tropical and citrus notes tend to work best with this origin, such as Mosaic, Citra and Galaxy. The finished bar has the unmistakable tea flavor of a freshly brewed hop infusion with subtle citrus and tropical notes balanced by the deeper berry and dark chocolate notes of cocoa.

Balance flavors

Tyler Cagwin of Nostalgia Chocolate in Syracuse, NY, also uses air infusion. Cagwin is a craft beer lover and he struck up a friendship a few years ago with Chad Meigs, founder of The Binyard hop farm nearby. The first time he touched a hop cone was while visiting the farm to select a variety for his Hop Aged bar.

“Tyler wanted something very specific,” says Meigs. “It was right during the harvest, and we detached a clump and stuck our faces to it and rubbed and sniffed with the cones. He didn’t know the varieties, but he knew the aromatic characteristics.

Cagwin had recently started working with Kokoa Kamili cocoa beans from Tanzania and wanted something that would work well with the cherry notes from that origin. “I thought the origin would go extremely well with pine and citrus, so we went with Chinook hops,” he explains. “I took airtight containers and put in a layer of hop cones, then a layer of bars, and did it for four layers, then sealed it for three weeks. When I got them went out, I felt like we were there.

Dick created his bar in collaboration with locals Eel River Brewerymaking a chocolate that would match the flavors of its Vanilla Citrus Stout.

“Since we were trying to imitate their Milk Stout, we created a milk chocolate using cocoa from Fazenda Camboa in Brazil,” he says. “We were really happy with how it turned out.”

Gather beer and chocolate

“I’m a craft beer and I love hoppy beer,” says Sara Ratza of Ratza Chocolate in Tarpon Springs, Florida. “As a beer fan and former barista, many of my bars are inspired by drinks.”

When deciding to use hops in a bar, Ratza wanted to incorporate the hops themselves, not just their flavors. She is a certified western herbalist and uses herbs and plants in many of her bars.

“As a herbalist, I take the herb and grind it into a powder and put it straight into my machine [for grinding chocolate],” she explains. “I add just enough to get a note of the hops and not let them take over.”

The hop character in Ratza’s Hopped Citrus Bar leans more towards the bitterness of the herbaceous alpha acid than the juicy fruitiness of the air infusion method. This recalls the long history of hops as a herbal remedy, dating back to Saint Hildegard of Bingen. writings on the plant in the 12th century. Ratza sources the hops from an herb supplier who does not specify the variety.

All of these makers noted the popularity of their hop bars with beer lovers, and how these served as a gateway to artisanal chocolate for people unfamiliar with the category as more than a childhood treat. . “I asked some beer-loving friends to try it, and they were blown away,” Cagwin says. “A lot of chocolatiers who aren’t beer lovers pick up on the pine and citrus notes, and it reminds them of Christmas or some other experience.”

“Hops are the sexy ingredient in beer, and it turns out you can hop just about anything,” says Meigs, who wants to pursue other avenues beyond beer for the hops qu proudly cultivates. “Tyler opened up this world to me.”

Peel off the wrapper from one of these bean-to-bar chocolates and open up a whole new world of hop flavor.

Five hop chocolates to try:

Dark milk chocolate infused with Somerville hops

Somerville, Massachusetts.
Credit: Chocolate Somerville

This 65% dark milk chocolate bar made with cocoa from the Dominican Republic carries the tropical and citrus flavors of trendy hops like Citra, Mosaic and Galaxy in a luxurious, creamy chocolate body.

Nostalgia Hop Aged 70% Dark Chocolate

Syracuse, NY
Nostalgia Hop Aged 70% Dark Chocolate from Syracuse, New York is one of the finest hops infused chocolates.
Credit: Nostalgic Chocolates

This 70% dark bar made with Tanzanian cocoa incorporates the flavors of Chinook hops grown just down the street at The Bineyard hop farm. It features notes of orange peel, pine needles and cherry cordial.

Dick Taylor Vanilla Citrus Stout

Eureka, California.
Dick Taylor Vanilla Citrus Stout from Eureka, California is one of the best hops-infused chocolates.
Credit: Dick Taylor Chocolate / Facebook

This 55% milk chocolate is made with Cascade hops and orange essential oils. It emulates the flavors of Eel River Brewing Citrus Vanilla Stout with its creamy, chocolatey and slightly tangy Orange Creamsicle-like flavors.

Ratza Hopped Citrus

Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Ratza Hopped Citrus Tarpon Springs from Florida is one of the best hops infused chocolates
Credit: Chocolat Ratza

This 80% Belizean cocoa dark chocolate is made with whole hop flowers and orange peel, and showcases the bitterness of the hops tempered with sweet citrus.

French Broad IPA Caramel, Nougat & Candy Peanut

Asheville, North Carolina

French Broad IPA Caramel, Nougat & Peanut Bonbon Asheville from North Carolina is one of the finest hops infused chocolates.

Wide French Chocolates collaborates with funeral beer each spring on a beer-infused candy set. This IPA-infused treat combines the juicy tropical hop notes of Burial’s Ratioality Shall Run Its Course Hazy IPA.

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