It is already Valentine’s Day and you’re probably scrambling to find flowers, but also possibly chocolates, chocolate truffles, box o’ chocolates, etc. Chocolate beers are good year round though, especially in the winter. Here are ten of the best chocolate beers currently available in bottles or cans.
Foothill’s Sexual Chocolate
As the great lyricist John Wozniak once said, “I like sex and candy.” Foothills Brewing arguably made one of the first great chocolate beers of the modern era after an erotic evening with a chocolate fountain, or so the legend goes. Foothills Sexual Chocolate is a Russian Imperial Stout with bucketfuls of caramel, pulled espresso shots, buttery blackstrap molasses and responsibly wrapped Peruvian cocoa nibs penetrating all those rich and decadent flavors. Pour all that on top of a stimulating 75 IBU’s of hop bitterness and an arousing 9.6% ABV and you get Sexual Chocolate in a glass.
Sunriver Cocoa Cow
As a child, you might have imagined a magical chocolate cow whose udders spurted chocolate milk, and dreamt of obtaining such a majestic beast some day. If that kid grew up to become a chocolate milk loving brewer, then Cocoa Cow would be the beer they made. Packed with cocoa nibs from Africa and milk derived sugar for sweet creamy Neskwik flavors, Cocoa Cow resembles a milkshake with just enough roasted chocolate malt and piney hops to remind you it’s a beer.
Southern Tier Nitro Chocolate Milkshake
As an old buddy once said, Southern Tier’s decadent Blackwater Series of beers should carry a tagline that says ‘beers that get you laid.’ Chocolate Milkshake is the type of beer that could seduce just about anyone, the kind of beer you want to curl up alone with but wouldn’t want to introduce to your family. Chocolate Milkshake has a scent so intoxicating that you can’t help but take a sip; just the aroma of popping the cap sends you into a state of arousal. It’s the type of beer that’s so intensely chocolate you can barely stand it, but also can’t put down. You might wonder while sipping Chocolate Milkshake if you’re drinking a beer, or a tub of boozy dark chocolate sauce instead. You may feel overindulgent while drinking Chocolate Milkshake, maybe even regretful later, but you will keep fantasizing about it for years to come.
Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist Chocolate Rapture
Epic pushes euphoric boundaries of cacao into a state of rapture with its latest annual variation on the popular Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout. By adding even more cacao nibs and vanilla into an already cacao-infused beer, the brewery achieves a super decadent and rich dessert cocktail that will have you reaching for a spoon. If the year-round available Big Bad Baptist is a showcase of coffee and grains, than the Chocolate Rapture version is the mochaccino update that will send you into a caffeinated cacao orbit before a sugar crash drops you into a chocolaty abyss that you will need to claw your way out of by looking for the next big bad rapture.
Block 15 Super Nebula
The only barrel-aged chocolate beer to make this years list is from Corvallis, Oregon’s highly sought after Block 15 Brewing. Super Nebula is the street name that Block 15’s regular draft Nebula oatmeal stout takes on after spending hard time in oak with turkeys. By beefing up in its cell, Super Nebula amps up to an impressive 13.25% abv, so it can take on a year in solitary Wild Turkey bourbon barrels. Nebula comes out a changed Stout, inked up with charred woody notes, complex spices and sweet vanilla tannins. Before it’s ready to be released back into the wild, Block 15 enters Super Nebula into a re-education program with a hand selected assortment of direct trade cocoa nibs, this year hailing from the Rainforest Alliance Certified Forastero nibs, sourced from Ghana.
Stone Brewing Xocoveza
First introduced as a one-off collaboration with San Diego homebrewer Chris Banker, Xocoveza was such a hit that Stone Brewing has now added it to its regular portfolio of 12oz cans. While many brewers add chocolate to their beers for depth of flavor or to emulate milk or dark chocolate flavors, Xocoveza draws from Mexican influences.
Inspired by Mexico’s spicy take on hot chocolate, Xocoveza is layered with pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, coffee and more than a little chocolate. The brewers really knocked it out of the park with this beer by nailing the delicate balance of spices that could have easily seen one flavor swinging wildly to one side. Instead, Xocoveza luxuriates in layers of gooey chocolate and vanilla creme with warming and nutty spices and roasty bitterness. It’s enough to have you wishing for a cold winter night as an excuse to crack a can, though you may find it’s delicious no matter the weather.
Rogue Double Chocolate Stout
The regular edition Rogue Chocolate Stout is available year round, and has racked up a number of awards. Chocolate is more in the malt in that beer, and it’s a fine balanced Oatmeal Stout. But if you want a real chocolate bomb treat, we recommend seeking out the Double Chocolate Stout. Huge, rich layers of Dutch bittersweet chocolate are complemented by honey and coffee notes for an intense but delicious full-bodied imperial stout. 8.7% ABV and 68 IBUs, available for a limited time in red 750ml bottles.
Boulevard Chocolate Ale
Boozy hot brown sugar, brown butter, pralines and milk chocolate flavors greet the tongue in Boulevard Brewing’s limited release Chocolate Ale. Rather than go with a dark beer like a stout or porter, Boulevard has crafted an mahogany colored strong ale that centers around malt flavors of caramel and toast with a chocolate background. Dark fruits, spicy hops and oak leave a spicy burn to this complex melange of flavors. Previously a spring release in corked 750ml bottles, Boulevard has updated the packaging with a new label and 500ml bottles.
Oskar Blues Death by Coconut
First released in 2015, Oskar Blues Death by Coconut has become a seasonal hit that returns to the airwaves each year just in time for the Christmas music to ramp up. Shifting things just a little away from stouts, Oskar Blues builds their base off of the smooth but slightly rough around the edges style of Irish Porter. Delightfully balanced sweetness and a surprisingly restrained 6.5% abv set the stage for the headliners: liquid Cholaca syrup made from cacao and sweetened with coconut sugar, and a duet of desiccated and roasted natural coconut. Together with the funky bass grooves of Simpson’s Extra Dark Crystal Malt, and this trio lays down tracks that will be humming in your head ’til the day you die.
DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus!
If you don’t like nuts in your chocolate, this beer ain’t for you. But if you think peanut butter and chocolate are one of the greatest flavor combos of all time (see: Snickers, Reese’s Cups etc.), you may fall head over heels for the game changing Sweet Baby Jesus. Baltimore, MD-based DuClaw Brewing was putting legumes in their beers before nut allergies were cool, and they received a Great American Beer Festival medal for their efforts. Sweet Baby Jesus is smooth, dry and roasty, a balanced creamy Jiff of a beer with a moderate hop bitterness and drinkable 6.2% ABV.
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.