A few years ago, there was a slight flurry, for a few months, about a chocolate designed for wine lovers.
I am a wine lover but for some reason, this concept didn't bode well.
I'm a big fan of Port, dessert wines, new world and old, sweet Riesling, off dry Pinot Gris or just about anything sugar driven... give me a bag of Cola Bottles or a Mr. Freeze and my mood lifts 10 fold but for some reason, glass of wine or beer in hand, I always reach for a wedge of cheese, a tube of Pringles or if we're low on provisions, a cream cracker will do. This was until myself and my new obsession had our first encounter...
Sharp's Connoisseurs were introduced to me under cloak and dagger. The range hadn't been launched nor had there been any secret tastings or press release about the exciting new development (I'm a self confessed marketers dream so new product excitement is pretty normal however, my reaction was more like Violet Beauregarde and the roast dinner and blueberry tart gum, I may have snatched and torn the crown cap off with my bare hands but fortunately enough I wasn't rolled off site by a Oompa Loompa).
Why? you ask yourself...
The Connoisseurs Range isn't just Engilsh Ale produced on the style of Belgian greats, it's both of those things with a bar of CHOCOLATE!!!
Sharp's have commissioned a craft Chocolatier from Cornwall to develop a chocolate to go with each of their Ales and this is no ploy to reel in the suckers, if it is, it works!
The Quadruple is a dark ale with some spritely carbonation and a creamy, almost Guinness like head in the glass. It smells like mocha, dark chocolate and over ripe fruit. The first flavours on the palate are those displayed on the nose teamed with a sharpness, there's a burst of initial sweetness that gives way to a bitterness reminiscent of dark chocolate and then you take a square of 70% Chocolate!!
The chocolate is amazing!! Raw cocoa flavours, oily chocolate bitterness but it gives way to a moment of creaminess, finishing like any good high content cocoa should, with a sharpness that would give, even the most amateur chocolate lovers, a rake of goosebumps. Whatever the chocolate and ale combo does to your tastebuds, it's almost indescribable! The balance that forms between the high content cocoa and the dark flavourful Ale is, not to sound like an ad for a packet of crisps, a taste sensation!
The Honey Spice is a glass of it's namesake. A golden coloured ale with some red hues and a foamy head. The nose is honeyed and tropical with some bready notes. The palate is sweet with some clean hop bitterness which makes it a very balanced mouthfeel.
The chocolate designed to go with this is white chocolate and lemon meringue, which sounds bizarre but just works so well. Creamy sweetness with a citrus lift from the lemon and the hop presence, it's better than any dessert trolley.
So, when you're in need of some 'me time' or a break from the kids, forget locking yourself into the loo with a Mars Bar for a minutes peace or eating a tub of Haagen Daaz in the garage, pick up 4 bottles of Sharp's Connoisseurs and get a free bar of chocolate and stash it away for the 'Peace Break'!
Available in Deveney's of Dundrum, until I've made my way through the lot.