Friday, February 29, 2008

Which came first, the chocolate or the beer?

It's a philosophical question I ask myself every evening [F] while resting my dog-tired feet by the fire [T], sitting in my rocking chair by the window [T] enjoying my routine dessert of a glass of Westvleteren 12 [F] and chili-infused certified free trade organic dark chocolate [T]: which invention truly preceded the other, chocolate or beer, and what would the answer say about the base priorities of the human psyche?*

Well, if this were some namby-pamby chocolate lover's blog riddled with Cathy references and blink tags and hot embedded MIDI Steisand action, I'd be referring you now to the latest scientific proof that indicates it was chocolate, not sweet heavenly beer, that was the original South American use for the bean of the cacao tree.

But this is Pfiff!, my friends, so I am proud to refer you to this bit on the recent archaeological findings on how it was beer that the ancient Hondurans were brewing up in those cute little pots since at least 1200 BC.

And if you'd like a hint of what that might have tasted like, who better to turn to that everybody's favorite historical brewing recreationist, Sam Calagione? Granted, I'm sure his Theobroma won't be nearly as vile as the spontaneously fermented chocomuck that they were most certainly whipping up to enjoy with a round of patolli or for sale in the stands at the tlatchtli game (there's a reason there's a tube on the side of the urn, so that you can tilt it and drink the liquid that's trapped underneath the thick skin of yeast and mung). In fact, it'll probably be delicious, as Sam's a freaking pro with or without his Levi's, and good brewers have long recognized the flavor (if not the actual ingredient) of chocolate [sorry, you have to search for it] as an integral component of beer's taste and aroma for ages.

Maybe some other time we'll do a little tasting round up of beers that include chocolate in them (and yes, they all do seem to show up around Valentine's Day, shockingly), as their numbers are rapidly increasing and involve such craft brewing champs as Ommegang, Sam Adams, Young's, and Bison - but we'll sadly have to pull a Maxim and review Dogfish Head's latest like they were the Black Crowes, until we can finally get some of that action around these parts.

A quick side note: Sam - Mr. Calagione - if you're reading this, heed my banshee wail: Northern California needs more than just Dogfish Head ads in Northwest Brewing News, we need to see some actual bottles on actual shelves. The few ales of yours I've had the good fortune of trying while in such exotic locales as Tucson, Arizona (the Raison d'Extra a particularly stunning example) have been nothing short of the finest craft beers I've ever chanced upon. But this "parched market" of the Bay Area foodie Nation would undoubtedly offer good business for your fine creations. And if you doubt the interest here, maybe a quick email to Forrest Allen, the beer buyer for the SOMA Whole Foods would dispel any of your concerns - or I imagine the folks at City Beer and Healthy Spirits would be more than happy to try to persuade you. Certainly you wouldn't want to post the 2008 release calendar online for the whole wwworld to read if you didn't want us to enjoy the fruits of your historically delicious creations, right? And when you come visit, don't forget to bring Randall!

* Answer: It says our psyche likes to party.

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