Photography by Mary Overmeer
Few things in life give me greater pleasure than a well-crafted beer or a devilishly indulgent piece of chocolate. Understandably then, I almost did a backflip* when I heard about A Curious Evening of Beer and Chocolate at the Innis and Gunn pop-up bar.
Independent, Edinburgh-based brewing company Innis and Gunn teamed up with artisan chocolatiers Edward and Irwyn for a tastebud seducing evening of beer and chocolate matching.
Since my plus one was a little *ahem* late I spent some time nursing a rather tasty Innis and Gunn Blonde and pretending to scribble some very important notes in my little notepad. Luckily I got a chance to grab a few words with Kirsty – one of the Edward and Irywn chocolatiers – who told me about their plans to open a kitchen up in Morningside in September, and that they believe in making chocolate the old-fashioned way, using techniques like hand tempering.
The tastings kicked off with an Innis and Gunn Original paired with Heather Honey Honeycomb milk chocolate. The comforting chocolate evoked memories of distant Christmas mornings, but my usual favourite beer didn’t have quite the same appeal when mixed with something else so sweet.
Next came a Stewart Brewing Coconut Porter paired with Rye Crumb Vanilla Salt Coconut Meringue – as if my night of beer and chocolate wasn’t going well enough, now I had coconut thrown into the mix – bliss! The chocolate was a challenging mix of hearty coconut, with the sweetness of chocolate and salty toasted molasses which danced back and forth on the tongue. The porter (which I’d tried and loved before) was also delicious, yet I felt the flavours were not contrasting enough to make it an interesting pairing. Rob suggested a chilli beer might have been better to complement the cool coconut flavour.
Next up was the talk of the evening – an Innis and Gunn Rum Finish paired with a deceptively normal looking slice chocolate, the Perfume Spiced Valrhona Blend. The explosion of flavour from the chocolate was quite simply stunning – spiced with vanilla seeds, clove, cardamom and rose – and I thought the pairing with Rum Finish was spot on, perhaps mostly due to the interesting combination of rum and cardamom.
The final indulgence was an Innis and Gunn Canada Day special brew, accompanied by Malted Honey Salted Caramel in extra dark milk chocolate. Made with Scottish Blossom honey, the chocolate caramels were positively melt-in-the-mouth. I’d happily line up eight of these badboys with a nice bottle of red for a quiet night in…
All in all a spiffing evening, and just writing about the chocolate is literally making my mouth water. Now counting down the days until Edward and Irwyn open their doors in September…
Thanks to Mary Overmeer for allowing me to use her wonderful photographs in this post – you can find her at @MaryOvermeer or check out her website.