WILLIAMSBURG — As Traverse City Beer Week continues to unfold, people have been able to experience the vast craft beer world in a variety of ways. The Grand Traverse Resort opened up the world of chocolate and beer with a unique pairing on Wednesday.
Aerie Restaurant and Lounge, located at the top of the resort, featured five chocolate and beer tasting stations. Those attending the event were able to casually taste each chocolate that was paired with a favorite Short’s beer.
Pastry Chef Stephanie Elwell designed the menu. “I tasted all of the beers I had been given and pulled out all of my chocolate,” she said. “I experimented and tried a lot of different combinations.”
The end result was a beautifully crafted menu that pulled out the best qualities of each Short’s beer. Brews paired included Nicie Spicie, Soft Parade, Mystery Oatmeal Stout, Kind Ale and Noble Chaos.
Elwell considered flavors that would compliment each other rather than create too strong of a flavor. When finding a chocolate for Kind Ale, she first tried a bitter dark chocolate.
“It was too overwhelming,” she said. “The bitter taste from the chocolate was too much with the bitter taste of the beer.”
With more exploration, Elwell chose to pair Kind Ale with a 64% chocolate fleur de sel caramel bonbon. The sweetness of the caramel mellowed out the bitterness in Kind Ale. The two flavors worked well together.
My favorite pairings featured Nicie Spicie and Noble Chaos. Nicie Spicie, a spiced wheat ale, was paired beautifully with a candied orange dipped in 70% dark chocolate. The orange and bitter chocolate emphasized the spices and citrus in the beer.
Noble Chaos, Short’s version of an Oktoberfest, was paired with a smoked 36% milk chocolate bar with a bacon maple center. The chocolate bar had a complex smoke flavor that was the perfect compliment to the malt and caramel notes present in Noble Chaos.
Pairings such as this one allow beer drinkers to experience their favorite brews in new ways. It also exposes cautionary drinkers to bold new flavors.
“It’s a great way to show people how diverse beer can be,” Joe Short, CEO of Short’s Brewery, said.
Short was at the pairing and has been present at many events throughout Traverse City Beer Week.
“This is our neighborhood. We are so lucky to have a such great craft beer.”