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It’s that time of year where dark and dessert beers dominate and chocolate cocoa beers delight on cold nights and warm flights for Valentine’s Day and the last dark days of February. In Seattle, the 5th annual Chocolate Beer Week is already underway and runs through this Wed. February 14th but there are plenty of Oregon made hot chocolate beers for the rest of us, freshly nibbed and mixed in bottles and cans and here are ten of our recently released favorites.
Chocolate beers have come along way in the last five years, gone are the days of beers with simply melted baker’s chocolate bars added to the whirlpool. As it turns out, most Baker’s Chocolate is very low-grade and likely from multiple sources, sometimes sweeted with low quality sugar as well. Not long ago, Baker’s Chocolate added during the boil was the primary way to add the flavor, if it wasnt’s just an extract flavoring itself. These days brewers have got him to the micro chocolatiers that are now everywhere, these masters source their beans or nibs direct from farmers and the nibs which are unsweeted and very intense can be added directly to an already fermented beer as it finishes in the tank. This has become the new standard method with brewers adding up to two pounds of nibs per barrel of beer. Below are ten of our currently available packaged Oregon favorites.
Block 15: Super Nebula
This Corvallis, Oregon brewery annually releases an imperial version of their Nebula stout aged in bourbon barrels with origin-specific cocoa nibs to complement the blend. This years just recently released Episode IX 2018 Super Nebula was matured in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels and then conditioned on direct trade Fijian cocoa nibs, infusing this complex stout with notes of oak, vanilla, dried fruit, chocolate, tobacco spice, and caramel. 10.5% ABV.
Breakside Brewery: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Aztec
Breakside has been making Aztec Ale since the beginning of their inception and the bourbon barrel version was their first barrel-aged version which is so popular they only make this one now. The latest batch of thic chocolate and chili beer has aged for 12 months on Heaven Hill Boubon barrels and rested on 120lbs (2 pounds per barrel!) of Woodblock Cocoa nibs. This is one of the most unique beers on this list as instead of a dark beer base, it’s a strong golden ale, and the addition of a mix of ancho and guajillo chilies add a spicy, fruitier bite for this complex delicious sipper.
Caldera Brewing: Mogli
Caldera brewed “Mogli” in tribute to a late and beloved pup. The base beer is an Imperial Poter that’s built up with crystal, munich, chocolate malts and Dark Belgian Candi Syrup. An adition of bourbon-soaked oak spiral aging adds some sweet and vanillin notes on top of the actual rich chocolate syrup flavors. Available in 22oz bottles at 8.5%, IBU: 55, SRM: 55.0
Crux Fermentation Project: Coco(a) Stout
This triple-chocolate stout is the adult’s answer to hot cocoa on a cold night. As smooth and full of character as a fireside velvet painting, this roasted revelation was brewed with chocolate malt, infused with cocoa powder, and then “dry-hopped” with cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, and toasted coconut for a decadently layered sipping experience that beats any dessert. Available now in 500 ml bottles and on draft, but not for long, as this single batch release will soon be gone.
Ex Novo Brewing: Nevermore
Portland’s Ex Novo Brewing released a new vintage of their award-winning “Nevermore” a black barleywine with the strange but delicious additions of smoked figs and Moonstruck Chocolate. The brewers ended up using single-orogin Fortunato #4 cocoa nibs, a type thought extinct for over 100 years before a find in a remote part of Ecuador. Rich and complex with subtle chocolate, smoke, and dark fruit. 12.5%, and 60 IBUs.
Fort George Brewery: 1,000 Years of Silence
This Astoria brewery knows how to celebrate dark days and stout month properly, with dark warming chili peppers, molasses, brown sugar and cocoa nibs in a liquid dessert called 1,000 years of Silence. Part of their limited Sweet Virginia series, you can find 500 ml bottles of this layered rich and spicy brew that will leave you speechless. 10.5% abv.
Level Beer: Chocolate Dynamite
The current batches of Chocolate Dynamite are drying up as Level Beer’s bottle release is ending it’r run, but you can still find bottles at the brewery and Portland-area taprooms. Chocolate Dynamite is a balanced stout with flavors of roasted malts and milk chocolate. The brewers used English yeast and a more British-style base ber to condition on cocoa nibs from Pitch Dark Chocolate for a decadent finish.
McMenamins: Blackest Heart Barrel-Aged Cherry Chocolate Coffee Stout
Just released last Friday at McMemanins 23rd Avenue Bottle Shop is this particularly complicated brew from McMenamins Edgefield brewery. This Imperial Stout is blended from two different barrels. The base beer was added to with the additions of sweet cherries, cold brew coffee and chocolate before the brewers put it into their ow Hogshead Whiskey Barrels for over a year. OG: 1.091 TG: 1.023 ABV: 8.77 IBU: 24 SRM: 32
Rogue: Chocolate Stout and Double Chocolate Stout
Rogue Brewing makes one of the old school classic Chocolate Stouts and also added a Double Chocolate Stout to the limited releases sometime back. They recently relaunched Chocolate Stout in newly designed 22oz bottles and fresh draft editions in time for Valentine’s Day. Comparing the flavor to dark chocolate truffles, I recommend the single version for something more roasty and stout like while the double chocolate stout is a desserty, decadent treat best shared. Double Chocolate Stout in 750ml bottles and on draft only throughout the month of February.
10 Barrel: Double Chocolate Stout
Not to be confused with Rogue’s beer of the exact same name, 10 Barrel Brewing has released a Double Chocolate Stout of their own for Valentine’s Day. Made with cacao nibs, cacao powder and Madagascar vanilla beans, the Double Chocolate Stout is rich and balanced, layered with nuances of dark chocolate, vanilla, figs, and dates. Part of 10 Barrel’s Barreled Series, the Double Chocolate Stout (9.5% ABV) was aged in bourbon barrels for extra depth. The limited release was bottled in 22-ounce bottles and is available at all 10 Barrel pubs now through Valentine’s Day.