Still tickets for Winter Beer Fest, where beer and chocolate await you

There are still tickets left for this weekend’s Washington Winter Beer Festival. The event is in Fremont at the Hale’s Paladium. It is one of the most highly-anticipated beer events of the year. There were a limited number of tickets available online, now sold out, but there will be plenty of tickets at the door for both the Friday and Saturday sessions. Read our story about the festival.

The Washington Beer Commission invited us to attend a media event yesterday at the Hale’s brewery – a chocolate and beer pairing session. The event served as a preview of this year’s Winter Beer Festival. Along with all the fabulous beer, one of Seattle’s finest chocolate shops – The Chocolate Box – will be at the festival serving samples of some of the world’s finest chocolate treats. The idea is that you sample different beers alongside different chocolates to find the pairing that makes your tongue do cartwheels.

Representatives from the beer industry and the chocolate industry were at yesterday’s event to tell us about their products as we sampled delectable chocolates alongside a delicious assortment of beers. Pairing beer with chocolate is beautifully subjective. There is no “right” pairing. It is entirely up to you to determine which combination works best for your palate.

Yesterday we learned from the experts the proper way to do it. Start with the chocolate. The only real requirement is that you let it melt on your tongue to release the entire depth of its flavors. It is hard, but you must give the chocolate some time to work its magic before you swallow. Let the oils coat your mouth. You’ll notice flavors that were not there when you first popped it into your mouth. Then take a sip of beer. Repeat.

My favorite pairing was the Trade Route Ginger Pale Ale paired with a Chilli Truffle from Carter’s Chocolates. When the truffle first hit my mouth, I barely noticed any hint of chilli. The heat came as the chocolate melted into nothingness on my tongue. It lingered. Then I took a sip of the beer. The truffle’s chilli combined with the beer’s ginger to create a whole new flavor, one that reminded me of Thai food – spicy, sweet, and hot.

Mrs. Beer Blog has a much more sophisticated palate for chocolate than I do. One of her favorite pairings was the XXXXX Stout Truffle, also from Carter’s Chocolates, paired with a couple of different beers. First, the truffle paired with Big Time Malaprop 8 Abbey Style Bier created a dessert-like sensation. The same truffle paired with Pike Entire created something that reminded her of an after dinner glass of bourbon.  The truffle served to bring out, or emphasize, different characteristics in each beer.

Like I said, chocolate and beer pairings are entirely subjective. It’s all about what you like. We highly recommend that you try it yourself at this weekend’s Winter Beer Festival. The folks from the Chocolate Box know a lot about chocolate and they know a surprising lot about beer as well. They will be happy to make recommendations. If you can describe the beer to them, they can recommend a chocolate to you.

Winter Beer Fest tickets will be available at the door. Visit the official Web site for complete details.

Here’s one last note for those of you wondering. The XXXXX Stout Truffle is indeed made using Pike XXXXX Stout. Mike Carter, the man behind Carter’s Chocolates, worked as a server at Pike. He now operates a chocolate business out of Port Orchard. His chocolates are amazing.

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