Chatting Chocolate Stout with Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver

"There is no chocolate in Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. We use a heavily roasted malt called chocolate malt, which develops a chocolatey flavor."



Ah, St. Patrick's Day—the color green, pinches, and parades. Everyone's encouraged to have a good time, show some Irish pride, and probably knock back a couple of brews. But what on earth is a chocolate blogger to do on this, the drinkiest of holidays?

Why, talk about chocolate stout, of course! Personally, I happen to love beer—but know shamefully little about how it's made, what stout is, and how chocolate is (or isn't) involved. I decided to ask Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, to fill me in.


Garrett Oliver.

So what's the basic beermaking process? When barley is sprouted, it develops natural enzymes which can break starch down into sugar. Sprouted dried barley is called barley malt. This barley malt is crushed and mixed with hot water to form a porridge called the mash.

At specific temperatures, the natural enzymes will break down all the starch in the mash into sugars. We separate out a sweet liquid called the wort, then bring it to a boil. Hops are added for bitterness, aroma and flavor. The hopped wort is then cooled and the yeast is added. The yeast consumes the sugar and transforms the wort into beer.

How is the process different for chocolate stout than, say, a lager? "Lager" and "Ale" are the two main families of beer. The distinctions have nothing to do with color or strength, but with the fermentation process. Lagers have long, cold fermentations by one species of yeast, while ales have a short, warm fermentation by another species. Ales tend to be more complex in flavor. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is an ale, and is aged for four months before it's released.

Why "chocolate stout"? Is there chocolate in it? There is no chocolate in Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. We use a heavily roasted malt called "chocolate malt," which develops a chocolatey flavor in the beer. The beer is named after the malt and the flavor. Especially after several months in the bottle, the aroma and flavor of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout bears a striking resemblance to good 70% cacao. The beer style is called "Imperial Stout."

How is Brooklyn chocolate stout different from other versions? Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout was the first beer in the U.S. to bear the name "chocolate stout." Other versions generally add some cacao derivative, from extracts to steeping of beans. We think ours tastes better without. The roasting process for the malt is similar to that of cacao beans, which helps explain the flavors derived.

Chocolate Stout Irish Stew



Garrett also mentioned that some restaurants use chocolate stout for ice cream floats. I don't know about you, but with the weather getting warmer I could totally go for one of those. But in keeping with the more traditional spirit of St. Paddy's, I figure a good stew (made with some delicious chocolate stout, of course) will make the perfect base coat for your gut before all that, er, celebrating.

This recipe was generously provided by Tom "Don't Call Me A Rockstar Butcher" Mylan of The Meat Hook. (Thanks Tom!)

Get the Chocolate Stout Irish Stew recipe here »