Pairing Beer & Chocolate

The first annual Burlington Beer Festival is coming up quickly (July 18th – 20th) and we’ve got Craft Beer on the mind!

Burlington Beer Festival | Christy's Gourmet Gifts Though Bernie loves experimenting with pairing our Brittle to local Craft Beers, he is always drawn back to chocolate – after all, he is a Master Chocolatier!

This week at the shop, we did some taste-testing and pairing with Craft Beer and Belgian Chocolate (is this really a job?!) and decided we should share our findings with all our fellow beer and chocolate enthusiasts!

Bernie - Master Chocolatier | Christy's Gourmet Gifts

We hope Bernie’s tips inspire you to do some pairings and tastings at home!

The rules of pairing are simple:

  1. Find and match flavours that taste great together
  2. Pair high-end with high-end and inexpensive with inexpensive
  3. There are no rules on what is right or wrong, it’s all about taste!
  4. Have fun!

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White Chocolate: White Chocolate is generally made with cocoa butter and includes no cocoa mass.  White chocolate may have the following flavour notes: cream, milk, honey, vanilla, caramel and/or fruit.

Belgian White Chocolate Callets | Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Pairing Chocolate and Beer

For pairing, we suggest lighter craft beers with subtle citrus undertones.  Brews with fruit, honey or vanilla flavours will pair nicely and won’t overpower the sweetness of the white chocolate.

Pairing Suggestions:  North American Light Lager, North American Lager, German Style Wheat Beer, Belgian Style Wheat Beer, Cream Ales, Fruit Beer, Ciders, Pilsner

Examples:  Nickel Brook – Green Apple Pilsner

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Milk Chocolate:  Milk Chocolate is generally made with cocoa butter, milk and 35%-45% cocoa mass.  Milk chocolate may have the following flavour notes: brown sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, honey, caramel, nuttiness, coffee and or malt.

Belgian Milk Chocolate Callets | Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Pairing Chocolate and Beer

For pairing, we suggest a medium strength craft beer which will work in harmony with the sweetness of the milk chocolate. Brews with brown sugar, caramel, coffee and nutty undertones are the best bet.

Pairing Suggestions:  Amber Lager, European Style Lager, Honey/Maple, Cream Ales, British Pale Ales, North American Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Amber Ale, Porter

Examples: Nickel Brook – Maple Porter, Nickel Brook – Cuvee Ale 

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Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is generally made with cocoa butter and greater than 55 % of cocoa mass.  It has a strong flavour with a good balance of sugar but is not too sweet. Dark chocolate may have the following flavour notes: nutty, spicy, smoke, coffee and/or earthy notes with hints of cherry and caramel.

Belgian Dark Chocolate Callets | Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Pairing Chocolate and Beer

For pairing, we suggest a darker craft beer which will complement the bitterness or strong flavour of the semisweet chocolate. Brews with nutty, spicy or earthy notes are the best bet.

Pairing Suggestions: Dark Lager, Bock, North American Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Dark Ale, Porter, Stout, Strong Beer

Examples: Nickel Brook – Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout, Nickel Brook – Old Kentucky Bastard Imperial Stout 

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Are you interested in a private beer and chocolate tasting? We would love to hear from you!  Our Master Chocolatier is always interested in working with local craft breweries.

Contact us at: sales@christysgourmetgifts.com

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To read more about Chocolate and Beer Pairings, visit these links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/28/beer-types-decoding-different-beers_n_1711279.html

http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/chocolate/flavors.asp

www.mynslc.com/Content_MarketingPages/Content_Beer/Content_BeerAppreciation/Beer Pairings/BeerandChocolate.aspx

http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/983087/how-to-pair-chocolate-with-beer

Christy’s Gourmet Launches New Boozy Brittles Flavours

You may be familiar with our Boozy Brittles product line – which includes favourites such as: Craft Beer Brittle, Spicy Beer Brittle and Pretzel Beer Brittle, along with a Wine Infused Chocolate Toffee. We are extremely excited to announce to our customers and fans of Boozy Brittles: we will be introducing two new flavours of Wine Infused Chocolate Toffee!

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Brittle LineThe two new flavours include: Merlot Black Pepper and Cinnamon Basil Baco Noir. They are both to die for –  if we do say so ourselves – and those who have tried either flavour are already hooked!

The Merlot Black Pepper begins with a red wine infused pure butter toffee, which is then mixed with freshly crushed black peppercorns. The toffee is drizzled in a Belgian dark chocolate and topped with peppercorns.

Christy’s Gourmet Gifts | Merlot Black Pepper Wine Infused Chocolate Toffee | New ProductThe Cinnamon Basil Baco Noir begins with a red wine infused pure butter toffee, which is mixed with freshly ground cinnamon and dried basil leaves. The toffee bar is then drizzled with a Belgian milk chocolate. (May we also add – this one smells amazing when it’s being baked. Yum!)

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Cinnamon Basil Baco Noir Wine Infused Chocolate Toffee | New ProductStop by Christy’s shop in Burlington to try one of our new flavours for yourself – or contact us at sales@christysgourmetgifts.com to find a retailer near you.

A Craft-Beer Themed Wedding

It’s wedding season! You know what that means… lots of creative ideas for wedding themes all over Pinterest and the web. Pinterest is such a great inspiration for creativity – but sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. Our friend is just in the midst of planning her wedding and she had a great idea for a theme – a craft beer themed wedding! We loved her idea so much that we decided we would help her plan. Here are our thoughts on the theme:

Invites/Save-the-Dates:

The first way to get your guests into the spirit is with your invitations and save-the-date cards! Stick to the theme with your invites, and get creative. Why not try this cute idea and turn your save-the-dates in the coasters for your guests? For the invitation designs, think kraft – burlap – anything rustic that will get your guests into the country, craft-beer spirit.

Save the Date Coaster -

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Themed Wedding - Coasters

Retrieved from http://media-cache-ec3.pinimg.com/originals/f2/ae/29/f2ae29f0cbfdb91e263d52f23b2f6026.jpg

Invites with Craft Beer Elements (like Hops!) -

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Themed Wedding - Invitation Idea with Hops elements

Retrieved from http://www.milehighbride.com/craft-beer-inspired-styled-session

Location:

If you’re planning a summer or warm-weather wedding, we love the idea of a tent or barn wedding.  If you don’t have the space, another option we love, is the distillery district in Toronto http://www.thedistillerydistrict.com/.  Perhaps your local community has a distillery which holds events.  These locations help set the mood for the urban craft beer themed wedding.

A Farm, Barn or Country Setting–

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Themed Wedding - Country Barn Style

Retrieved from alixannlooslephotography.blogspot.ca/2012/11/nikki-mike-wedding.html

Distillery District -

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Themed Wedding - Distillery District

Retrieved from http://newvintagemedia.blogspot.ca/2013/02/wedding-photography-laura-nathan.html

Décor:

In our opinion, Craft Beer weddings should always include hand-written chalkboard signs for menus/etc., and ice buckets full of cold drinks for the guests.  Both of these décor elements just scream craft beer country wedding.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Themed Wedding - Cold Beer Ice Bucket Beer Chalkboard Decor

www.christysgourmetgifts.com

Food:

Keep it Casual!

You wouldn’t want to ruin the relaxed feel of your craft beer wedding by serving a frou-frou meal. Make your guests feel comfortable and serve them something they will enjoy. Think: sliders, snow-cones, and picnic lunches packed for each guest – a retro classic comfort feel is perfect for your menu.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Themed Wedding - Food, Sliders and Picnic Baskets

Retrieved from http://pinterest.com/pin/26388347788843435/

Favours:

Fun favours that go with your wedding theme will be a big hit with guests! You could try something they could keep using time-after-time to remember your big day, like these great “To Have and To Hold” beer cozies.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Themed Wedding - To Have and To Hold Beer Cozy Favour

Retrieved from https://p.twimg.com/Ak8nNG4CIAAqJ9x.jpg:large

Or if you’re looking for some yummy sweets or goodies to give out as a favour, our Craft Beer Brittle is an excellent option! Guests will love this buttery toffee with almonds and will definitely continue talking about it, long after your special day has ended.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Themed Wedding - Craft Beer Brittle Favours

www.christysgourmetgifts.com

Extra Additions:

Extra details that you put into an event are always the ones that keep people talking. We love these creative ideas to add to your special day:

Hops and Burlap Boutonniere for the Groom-

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Themed Wedding - Burlap and Hops Boutonierre

Retrieved from http://www.onewed.com/photo-and-video/gallery/something-old-something-new-something-special-for-your-groom

Customized Craft Beer Labels-

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Themed Wedding - Customized Beer Labels

Retrieved from http://www.kegworks.com/blog/2011/05/09/homebrewed-wedding-favors-are-all-the-rage/#sthash.ZD8TW8wb.dpbs

Creative  Photography-

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Craft Beer Themed Wedding - Ring Photography

Retrieved from http://floridianweddings.com/2013/06/craft-beer-wedding-danielle-alex-in-marco-island/

And the most important detail of all – do what you think is right for you! Every wedding is a personal affair and you should plan elements that really show your (and your groom’s) personality.

A Fun-Filled St. Patricks Day Party

Saint Patrick’s Day, named after the most well-known of the patron saints of Ireland, was made an official feast day in the early seventeenth century. St.Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday that for some, celebrates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. For most, St.Patrick’s Day has become more of a celebration of Irish culture. The day generally involves wearing green clothing, public parades and festivals, and shamrocks.  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick%27s_Day )

With St.Patrick’s Day coming quickly, many of you are probably putting together your preparations to have a fun-filled St.Patrick’s Day party… and we’re here to help you with that!

A great party atmosphere starts the moment the guests walk in the door, with the decor! Greet your guests and get them into the Irish spirit from the moment they come into your home with this festive St.Patrick’s Day themed wreath!

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - St. Patrick's Day Blog - Wreath DIY Craft

What you will need:

  • Foam wreath circle (We picked up a green one from Michael’s craft store.)
  • Green ribbon
  • Green felt
  • Thin black marker
  • Green thread
  • Flat head pins (Make sure they are not too long, as you don’t want them to do straight through the foam circle.)
  • Sewing needle & scissors

1. Start of with choosing a shape you like, whether it be leaves or perhaps shamrocks, whatever you think would suit your home!

2. Draw this shape several times, using your thin black marker, on one side of the felt. (We did 38 leaves on our wreath.) When you think you have enough to fill your entire wreath, start cutting out each shape.

3. If you are using the leaf shape, like we did, thread your needle with the green thread. Sew each leaf down the center in a straight line. (You can do this with a sewing machine rather than hand-sewing. We just liked the added handmade feeling it gave to the project.)

4.Then, pinch one end of the leaf together and sew both sides so that they are touching. This will give you the leaf shape rather than just having a flat piece to work with.

5. Fully wrap your foam wreath circle with the green ribbon. (We used a slightly see-through ribbon, and overlapped for an interesting looking texture.)

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - St. Patrick's Day Party - St. Patrick's Day Themed Wreath

6. Using your flat head pins, start pinning your leaf shapes around your wreath. We pinned our leaves right near the top of the leaf – in the folded area – so that the pins are less visible.

7. Once all the leaves are pinned to your wreath, you can shift them around to give a prettier appearance and pine at the sides of the leaves so that none of them are left dangling.

8. Next, add a ribbon around the top and any other accoutrements to pretty it up, like a bow.

9. And you’re done! Hang the wreath up on your door and you are ready to greet your guests. You can even reuse this wreath for Springtime & Summertime! Just change up the ribbon, and any bows, and you’re set to go!

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - St. Patrick's Day Craft - Wreath DIY Craft

What else makes a great party you ask? The drinks, of course! Impress your friends with this thirst-quenching – and fun! – ‘Tipsy Leprechaun Cocktail’.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - St. Patrick's Day Party Drink - Tipsy Leprechaun Cocktail from Drinked In

Picture from DrinkedIn.net

You can find the recipe for a ‘Tipsy Leprechaun Cocktail’ at Drinked In http://drinkedin.net/component/content/article/39-recipes/recipes/159327-tipsy-leprechaun-cocktail.html

And you can’t have a St.Patrick’s Day party without some beer involved! Add extra interest to your party with our Craft Beer Brittle. Made with local Steamwhistle beer, this delicious brittle melts in your mouth. Your guests won’t be able to stop after just one bite!

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - St. Patrick's Day Party - Craft Beer Brittle By following these easy steps, you’re sure to have a St. Patrick’s Day party that your guests will not forget for years to come!

Do you have any great St. Patrick’s Day party ideas? Please share them with us in the comments below. Happy partying!