We're back this season with another beer collaboration with Dandelion Chocolate, a leader in the craft chocolate scene, beginning in 2019 and now in its fourth iteration.
Last year, we returned to our roots and released a brushed-up version of our chocolate beer "Chocolate Dunkel" based on the Dunkel style, which was awarded Gold in the AIBA 2021 (Australian International Beer Award) Flavoured Specialty Beer "Chocolate". Chocolate Dunkel was awarded Gold in the AIBA 2021 (Australian International Beer Award) Flavored Specialty Beer "Chocolate" category, and was highly praised for its quality as a chocolate beer.
Mr. Fujisaki, who has been in charge of brewing since last year, created "Chocolate Dunkel" again this year, based on the lessons learned from the previous year, aiming to create a "chocolate beer that everyone can imagine as chocolate".
Craftsmanship has no goal.
～Chocolate is about diversity.
In our collaboration with Dandelion Chocolate, we would like to mention the similarities between the craft chocolate movement and the craft beer scene.
We all know that the chocolate we buy at the local supermarket or at the convenience store on our way to work is made from cacao beans, but what determines the taste of chocolate in the first place? But what determines the taste of chocolate in the first place, and where do cacao beans come from?
There are many types of cacao beans, the raw material for chocolate, and their flavors vary depending on the region and season. However, the individuality of the cacao bean is lost by the time it reaches us in the form of the chocolate we consume every day.
The world of manufacturing has changed dramatically with the development of technology through industrialization.
In the process of "faster, further, and more rational" manufacturing practices, the rich flavors of chocolate have been lost. Thanks to this, we now have the same flavor of chocolate whenever we want to eat it.
The craft chocolate movement is an effort to restore the lost flavors and characteristics of chocolate and cacao beans, as well as the story of how and where the cacao beans themselves are produced and supplied.
This counterculture aspect is very similar to the craft beer movement, and I have a lot of sympathy for their activities.
I find the collaboration between people who share the goal of restoring the original richness of life to be organic and meaningful.
～From Chocolate Dunkel to Chocolate Weizen and back again to Chocolate Dunkel.
The brewer of this memorable first collaboration in 2019, Mr. Matsumoto, who was in charge of brewing the beer, indicated the following key points in designing the recipe.
The recipe was designed with the following points in mind:
- To give the beer a chocolate feel
- Not too sweet, but beer-driven
- Lager rather than ale for a clean taste
- A beer that can be enjoyed year-round
- Consider food pairings
- More beer than dessert.
Based on these considerations, they chose "DUNKEL" as the base style because it is a lager and its appearance is easily associated with chocolate.
*I would like to discuss beer styles in a separate article.
In the past, many beers were designed with roasted malts and reminiscent of chocolate flavors, but the recipe was created to achieve the ideal flavor from cacao nibs and chocolate.
At this time, we used cacao and chocolate from Tanzania with flavors reminiscent of pineapple and banana.
The following year, we further aimed to create a unique beer based on cacao, chocolate and weizen from Belize.
We released Chocolate Weizen, characterized by the sweet and sour strawberry-like acidity and nutty aroma of the Maya Mountain cacao from Belize, combined with the unique ester and acidity of Weizen to bring the fruity character more to the forefront.
Listening to various reviews, we found that people did not seem to be able to connect the "chocolate flavor" with the "Chocolate Weizen" flavor in their senses.
We decided to go back to the basics and try again, starting with "expressing the chocolate feeling" that everyone expects.
Mr. Fujisaki, the new brewer, tested a variety of cacao beans from Belize, Dominica, Guatemala, India, and other countries that Dandelion Chocolate had prepared, and decided on cacao bean selection, base beer, hop compatibility, and other factors with the aim of achieving a "classic chocolate flavor. We decided on cacao bean selection, base beer and hop compatibility, etc., with the aim of achieving "classic chocolate flavor.
I would like to introduce a little about the malt selection process, which was touched on in a recent interview with Mr. Monoe and Mr. Banno of Dandelion Chocolate Japan.
Mr. Banno: "Do you choose malts that go well with chocolate as well?"
Fujisaki "Yes, we do. We chose malts that would have a chocolate-like color. We also combined several types of malts to give it a slight sweetness.
Banno: "Can the aroma be emphasized by the malt?"
Fujisaki: "We use a mixture of roasted and unroasted malts, and adjust the color and aroma according to the ratio and the degree of roasting of the malts.
Banno: "The combinations seem endless. At Dandelion Chocolate, we only use cacao beans and sugar, so roasting is a key point at the factory, but it is totally different from the process of making beer."
Fujisaki: "There are certainly a lot of points to choose from."
*Monoe of Dandelion Chocolate Japan putting ground chocolate into the brewing kettle.
*Wort after ground chocolate is added.