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Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier - Fine Chocolates Made by Hand

608-249-3500 | Mon-Fri 10-6, Sat 11-3, Sun CLOSED

I add the spice to our Chocolate City Saison.

Recently, I had the pleasure of presenting at a beer and chocolate tasting at the Marina Grand Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan. The event was in conjunction with a local chocolate festival.

My friends at New Holland Brewing invited me to pair up with them again. New Holland’s “beervangelist” Fred Bueltmann and I have done pairings together since the first educational tent at the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison in 2008. We had another great turnout. By the second pairing the noise level rose considerably!

The next day, Fred and I ventured further north along Lake Michigan’s shoreline to arrive at New Holland’s brewery and world headquarters. I got the amazing opportunity to create a beer with their brewmaster John Haggerty.

Fred and I chop lemongrass and spices to add to the brew.

John is an artist as well as a brewing scientist. Here were his thoughts about what sort of beer we should brew:

“I am thinking a Saison base. These typically have a fruity quality to them with some naturally occurring phenolics (spicy, peppery notes).  They also tend to be dry and highly quaffable. Part of the dryness is due to the fact that some of the fermentables are from sugar which ferments all the way out. I am thinking that we sub that sugar out with some unrefined sugar like a muscavado or turbinado sugar. The residual sweetness from these will help support the chocolate flavors without being overpowering. I think we then work with the natural spiciness of the beer using some lemongrass, coriander, and black pepper.”

Wow. That idea sold me. I love saison styles. I contributed five pounds of dark chocolate and 10 pounds of cacao nibs to the mixture. We brewed a small batch of 12-14 half-barrels, each containing 15.5 gallons.  Since it was close to Valentines Day, we were having fun coming up with a name. One was an ode to the immortal Marvin Gaye–
“Let’s Get it Saison.” Ultimately, we settled on “Chocolate City Saison” a la Parliament’s funkalicious song.

John uses a hydrometer to measure the sugars in the wort.

We hope to release this special beer the Friday before the Great Taste, which will be held on August 13th. In-person ticket sales for the event will be held at various area locations at noon on Sunday, May 1, with a limit of two tickets per person. Just over 3,000 tickets will be available that day and they usually go fast. Organizers recommend you get in line early that Sunday to get tickets. With good reason, it’s a blast.

So drink good beer responsibly (yes, I am a mother), and enjoy great chocolates!