Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Hostess Cupcakes – Classier by the hour

I took a little break from posting over Christmas, but I’m back. To make up for my laziness, I’m classing it up with a pairing: Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout with a Hostess Cupcake…

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O.G. Hostess, like all pre-Chapter 7 and whatnot.

When Hostess announced their liquidation, I was one of the idiots who, despite not having eaten a Twinkie in 10 years, lamented its demise. In fact, at one point I even proposed to my office-mates a Twinkie memoriam: At a set time each day I would read out one Twinkie ingredient until I reached the end of its imposing list of -ates, -extrins, -ames, and numbered dyes. Eventually, one of my office-mates slipped away to a vending machine and brought me back a pack of Hostess Twinkies and Cupcakes on the condition that I shut-up and agree not to undertake my proposed Twinkie ceremony. I greedily agreed.

Buuuut, what better way to honor the memory of Hostess than with a series of beer and Hostess treat pairings. So, today is Hostess Cupcakes paired with Brooklyn’s decadent Black Chocolate Stout. Next will be Achel’s Tripel with the almighty Twinkie.

The funny thing about today’s chocolatey match-up is that only one of the contenders is actually made with chocolate. Although, it’s not the one I would suspect. Surprisingly, Brooklyn Brewing doesn’t add an ounce of chocolate to this very chocolatey-tasting beer. For the Hostess Cupcake, however, cocoa proudly ranks in prominence on the ingredient list somewhere after beef fat and before acesulfame potassium.

So, let’s do this thing…

Brooklyn chocolate stout

The Black Chocolate Stout pours slightly more opaque than motor oil, and its head looks like Yoo-Hoo froth. It smells like rich dark chocolate, coffee, and a little roast. It’s almost like you’re about to tie into a chocolate dessert so flagrantly decadent that you repeatedly look over your shoulder expecting to see Wilford Brimley preparing a “diabetus” intervention. The taste is huge, chocolatey, creamy, sweet, and slightly boozy, but it isn’t overbearing (not nearly as sweet as some of Southern Tier’s Blackwater Series). And the roast and char really come out to play, giving the finish a slight bitterness and taming (otherwise it would be more cloying than a Care Bear riding a My Little Pony).

On the other hand, the cupcakes are not nearly as awesome a school lunch commodity as I remember them. My sack lunches must have really sucked if they left me pining for these. The chocolate icing is dull-looking and a little brittle. The cake is kind of dry and crumbly, and the filling is thick and beef fat-ty. It doesn’t even taste that chocolatey. I’m starting to question my entire childhood.

So, the best I can say about this pairing is that the mediocrity of the cupcake will boost your appreciation of the beauty of this beer. But Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout doesn’t need a designated ugly friend to shine.

The Haybag (with her shot glass-sized pregnancy portion): Take the beer, leave the cupcake.

Thanksgiving Beer Pairings: We be all classy ‘n s$%t

As I mentioned, dangermenparenting sent out the bat signal to beerbecue to come up with some good beers for Thanksgiving. That’s right…I said beer for Thanksgiving. What? Do you think Pilgrims and Indians had a bunch of Chateau Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux at the first Thanksgiving? That’s not what I learned in grade school. They had beer, dammit….and this:I received several suggestions from friends on past successes. I will try to give credit to them where possible. So, here we go..

We need something that can hang with heartiness, but not overpower earthy comfort. So for Thanksgiving, beerbecue says: screw the hop bombs for one day out of the year, and go with earthy, sweet, lightly spicy or fruity, or a combination thereof. There are several beers that can fit this bill, and I will throw a couple variations for turkey prep differences, and some dessert selections.

Pretty safe, but very tasty: Latch on to the sweet, earthy, and caramel with a Dogfish Head Indian Brown, a Brooklyn Brown, or, as Tom suggested, a good German Marzen. Or even go a little darker with New Belgium’s 1554 Enlightened Black Ale.

A little more adventurous: Belgian Tripels. These little beauties have a light to moderate sweetness, some fruit (like apple, banana, pear, or oranges), earthiness, and sometimes a slight peppery, clovey, or spicey flavor from the Belgian yeast. The carbonation does a good job of clearing the palate, but the high carbonation can turn some off…like the Haybag. Also, they usually manage to mask their high ABV, even though they aren’t correspondingly heavy. And we all know high ABV can help in dealing with in-laws.

Try any of the following tripels: Allagash (a suggestion from Tony (not the DMP Tony) in the comments to the previous post); Unibroue La Fin Du Monde; Westmalle, St. Bernardus, or even New Belgium’s Trippel, which is now pretty easy to find in the DC-area. Also, some sweeter variations include Gouden Carolus, Weyerbacher Merry Monks, and Green Flash Trippel.

Perhaps even more adventurous: Although typically a Spring and Summer beer, the Saison/Farmhouse style would work. These will be dry, earthy, spicy, crisp, and light-bodied. You can try Saison Dupont (see the poetic description from Tony on Beer Advocate that says its all). Or I can also vouch for Ommegang’s Hennepin. The Dupont has a passing, but typical, barn funk (wet earth and hay), that is worth giving a shot. The Hennepin, on the other hand, lacks da funk.

What funk? I don

Smoked turkey curveball: I think the above suggestions work for roasted or fried turkey. But for smoked turkey (like the beerbecue residence) you might could go for something to stand-up to and compliment the smoke, like Founder’s Dirty Bastard or Oskar Blues Old Chub.

Additional curiosities: Tom suggested Troeg’s Mad Elf (cloves, honey, and cherries…not a bad Turkey Day combo). Ommegang’s Three Philosophers has dark fruit, cherries, and brown sugar (slight sourness from the cherries). Tony suggested Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse, which apparently paired very well with a thyme-roasted chicken his wife made (I imagine the Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse would work well, too). And Chris suggested Guinness with a Jameson chaser, which gets the prize for most efficient.

Dessert: For dessert, you can go with Founder’s Breakfast Stout, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, or any of Southern Tier’s Blackwater Series Imperial Stouts or their Backburner Barleywine. Alternatively, if you don’t want guests sleeping on your couch, you could try Tony’s “lighter” suggestions for dessert: Chimay Blue (fruit, spice, rich malt) or a Unibroue Noire de Chambly (fruits, spice, and slight chocolate).

Uncle Sal had the Chocolate Stout...and a Budweiser.

The Haybag: I give a thumbs up on those Browns. Also, even though ruling out hop bombs is blasphemy in this house, I think we are going to roll with Oskar Blues Old Chub to complement the smoked turkey. And I am cooking, so keep ’em coming, “Uncle Sal”.