No, I didn’t say Belgian beer and chocolate. We all know they pair well, but how about putting Belgian beer inside chocolate?
Let’s talk about chocolate. Because I like chocolate. So do a lot of other people, too. People with good taste.
Yes, sounds like a great idea? In fact, Belgium-the greatest producer of artisanal chocolate in the world, in my opinion-does have its share of beer chocolates. Here’s a look at a few.
John Martin company, the owner of the Martin’s brewery in Belgium, as well as Brouwerij Timmermans, a lambic brewery in Itterbeek, Flemish Brabant, has teamed up Corné Port-Royal, a Belgian chocolatier based in Brussels, to produce a gift box filled with chocolates that are themselves filled with four different kinds of beer. Sound good?
It should. Because they are delicious. The collaboration began last year, and the chocolates have been available since October 2012, at Corné’s numerous shops in Belgium and France, as well as at the Timmermans brewery. Oh yeah, and the Brussels Airport duty-free shops too, in case you forgot to pick up some while touring around.
Maurice Corné founded his chocolate makery in the early 1930′s. Today, 50 employees work, making chocolate. Is that really work? I bet the fringe benefits are really good.
This is from the Corné Port-Royal website:
“The cooperation between these two 100% Belgian firms resulted in four unique recipes based on beers that add sparkle to Belgium’s reputation: Kriek Timmermans, Blanche Lambicus Timmermans, Martin’s Pale Ale, and Bourgogne des Flandres Brune. Anthony R. Martin, Managing Director of John Martin explains: “What could be more natural than to associate famous beers, belonging to our ‘Finest Beer Selection,’ with the delights of Corné Port Royal, to create new sensations for the palate. The combination of an authentic quality chocolate and exceptional beers will guarantee an unforgettable experience for your taste buds!
Each individual chocolate shows the colors of its accredited beer: milk chocolate with a red ‘head’ for the cherry-flavoured Kriek; fondant chocolate with a white ‘head’ for the Blanche Lambicus; fondant chocolate with an orange ‘head’ for the spicier Pale Ale; and milk chocolate with a brown ‘head’ for the Bourgogne des Flandres.
This coming together of chocolate and beer has created sensations that are surprising, subtle and complimentary. Enjoy them without moderation with the ‘Beer Chocolate Experience’ gift box of 16 individual chocolates! As two products steeped in a tradition that remains largely artisanal in nature, they make a perfect match.”
You can find other fine beer chocolates at De Heeren Van Liedekercke in Denderleeuw, East Flanders. This beer cafe/restaurant, rated as the best beer restaurant in the world for 2013 by Ratebeer.com, stocks over 300 different brews, and has been around for a number of years. The owners of the cafe, brothers Joost and Tom De Four, partner with Het Chocoladehuis, an artisanal chocolatier located in nearby Aalst.
There are five different beer pralines: There is sour kriek from Hanssens, which is a combination of sour traditional kriek with quality white chocolate in a white shell. Next is sweet kriek from Lindemans, a combination of said kriek with a strong milk chocolate. Third is Sodalitasbie, a ganache of blond beer with fondant chocolate as filling in a milk chocolate shell, with a light caramel flavor. Fourth is Orval, a ganache of Trappist Orval and milk chocolate enclosed in a bitter fondant chocolate. Last but not least is Heerenbier, one of the house beers of De Heeren van Liedekercke. Heerenbier is a Brown brew, described as “full of character” with both a filling and shell from fondant chocolate.
The use of Orval in one of the chocolates is not random. De Heeren van Liedekercke is an Orval Ambassador cafe, and has been every year since 2004.
The pralines are available at De Heeren van Liedekercke. You can buy boxes with all five, or mix and match. Boxes of 250 grams, 500 grams, and one kilogram are available.
You will also know it when you reach Brouwerij Het Anker in Mechelen, Antwerp Province. Het Anker also offers fine beer chocolates, filled with a cream made from their Cuvee van de Keizer/Grand Cru of the Emperor. This 11% abv beer is brewed to celebrate the birth of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, on 24 February, 1500. There are three versions: white, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. Het Anker does not disclose the name of the chocolatier that produces these chocolates.
From the brewery website: “Handicraft, without the addition of artificial colorants, flavours or preservatives, the chocolates can be stored for only 3 months at a temperature between 12° C and 18° C. The chocolates are mixed and pre-packaged and available from 250 g to 500 g, and available at the brewery store.”
The brewery store is at the entrance to Brasserie Het Anker, the restaurant/taproom of the brewery. So, you might as well stay for a meal and enjoy a beer.