Move aside beer and cheese, a new flavor combination is about to be unveiled at Port Huron Brewing Company and it involves chocolate.
The brewing company teamed up with Swiss Maid Fudge to create a chocolate stout beer.
“We love working with local businesses and promoting the Dells,” said Tanner Brethorst, brewery chief. “So what better way to do it than to get together and use our areas of expertise and our ingredients to create really unique and one-of-a-kind beer that’s from right here in town?”
The idea originated when the brewery crew was brainstorming new and different test batches, Brethorst said. The brewery has a pilot program where it makes very small batches of brews it hasn’t tried before.
Beer ambassador Dan Wimann approached Swiss Maid’s marketing coordinator Kelly Blanchard with the idea.
“Chocolate stouts are a pretty big trending thing right now when we looked into it,” Blanchard said.
“To do a chocolate stout is brand new for us but we’re expecting a really flavorful, big-bodied, over-the-top chocolate flavor to come out of this beer,” Brethorst said.
On Jan. 16, the brewing team ventured downtown to do the mash process in the candy shop’s open view kitchen.
“We could brew it here like we brew every single other batch, but they’ve got these awesome copper kettles downtown basically set up for what we need,” Brethorst said. “Why don’t we take it down there and make it happen.”
Brethorst and Dennis Wimann dumped very hot water into two copper kettles. Then, they added malted barley and mixed it together until it was homogeneous. The starch in the barley breaks down into sugar, Brethorst said. They checked the temperature of the kettles frequently throughout the process.
With malted barley, there’s a temperature range where the starch breakdown happens, he said. Different sugars are made at different temperatures. Cooler temperatures make more fermentable sugars, which turn into alcohol for a boozier beer, he said. Higher temperatures provide more non-fermentable sugars that give beer body and sweetness.
The release party for the chocolate stout beer is open to the public at Port Huron Brewing Company Feb. 16, from 6 to 9 p.m. Only 10 gallons will be made.
“There’s an aura of it being so small and so limited,” Brethorst said. “It really builds up the excitement.” He said he expects the batch will be consumed within the weekend.
Local band Eric & Mor will be performing and Swiss Maid Fudge will bring candy.
This isn’t the first time these two local companies have worked together. They collaborated to create beer candy with the brewery’s Amber Alt, Dan Wimann said. The result was beer pretzel nuggets and salted beer caramel corn. “We’re always looking for innovative flavor combinations,” Blanchard said.