Today, I finally got a taste of Barbara Stok's Chocolate Beer. I'd heard conflicting reports about it, but because I didn't go to the Stripdagen in Haarlem, for which this beer was brewed, I hadn't had the opportunity to taste it yet. But Barbara recently received over a 100 bottles from the brewer, so she invited Jeroen and me to try it out.
Strangely, I share part of the credit, or blame, for this limited edition beer being on the market. Six or seven years ago, I found some bottles of an English Chocolate Ale at a liquor store in Groningen, and bought some. I mentioned this to Barbara on the phone and invited her over to give it a try. It turned out that this product, whose name I've long forgotten, was a pretty good brown ale with a strong aroma of chocolate and a solid brown ale taste. It was also pretty filling if I remember correctly. Not bad at all, but it was an expensive import and I never found any more of it anyway.
When brewer Jopen approached Barbara about marketing a theme beer for the biannual Stripdagen convention/festival, she thought of our chocolate ale experience and suggested a chocolate beer. The brewer ran with this idea and came up with a white chocolate-flavored Weissenbier - very different from the stuff we drank but promising nonetheless. It's a change from previous two editions (out of three), which were heavy beers tailor-made for hard-drinking cartoonists. This one is only 5% vol., sweet, with lemon more present in the flavour than chocolate.
The bottled version, coming in 3/4 liter containers with a champagne cork, is very different in taste and appearance from the same beer as served on tap at the festival, as a result of it still fermenting in the bottle. And boy, has this stuff fermented! There's a biochemistry Nobel to be won from researching this beer. Opening the bottle resulted in a spray of froth. Pouring it caused the first glass to be filled with nothing but foam. The next two (small) glasses from the bottle developed a large, solid head that looked a bit like baking dough rising, with an endless flow of CO2 bubbles rising from the bottom, visible through the clear liquid.
The final third of the bottle on the other hand was much more opaque and quieter, but with no visible dregs. This suggested that, even though it obviously wasn't safe to shake the bottle, the beer should have been shaken before pouring to homogenise it! The bottom of the bottle smelled and tasted much stronger too. There's a Physics Nobel waiting for the person to resolve this dilemma.
As Weissenbiers go, Barbara's Stripbier is pretty good. Maybe a bit too sweet for my taste (like the only American Weissenbier I've ever tasted, Celis from Austin, Texas), but nice, nonetheless. I liked the extra fizz in it - if soft drinks manufacturers made their products as sparkly as that, I'd drink a lot more soft drinks. And the bottle itself, of course, is a must-have for fans of Barbara's comics.
I'm going to experiment with putting some of this in pancakes. Should be fun, and maybe explosive.
Note: The site linked to above is in Dutch so international readers may miss out on the fact that the thumbnail on the right of that page links to a larger picture of the label.