Few flavor pairings are more iconic than chocolate and peanut butter. But can that combo manage with a third wheel?
How about chocolate, peanut butter, and stout?
American Sky Brewing just bottled its limited time seasonal American Sweetheart, raising the question: is chocolate peanut butter beer a rich and delicate dessert beer, a subtle flavor combo, or a Hindenburg disaster?
American Sweetheart pours like any chocolate stout: dark with a brown head, clean in complexion and with high carbonation. Aroma-wise, it carries a highly roasted malt character with a mild chocolate and subdued creamy peanut butter hint. In a nutshell, this is the beer -- it doesn't go much beyond its first impression.
The stout is overly dry and heavy on the roasted malts, almost giving a smoky flavor. The peanut butter element is subtle but distinct, softening the mouthfeel and playing the role of lactose sugar in a milk stout. The chocolate meanwhile, is imperceptible.
Overall, the peanut butter is an accent to this stout, and herein lies the problem: the stout isn't much to start with. The novel additions give added depth, but they never mingle with the other ingredients to create a unique experience.
Instead, it's a matter of picking out flavors that never fuse. The takeaway of this beer is that peanut butter itself might work in the right beer, but not this one. It's far more balanced than the sugary novelty of Maple Island's I Scream Brew, which includes a heavy dose of peanut butter itself, and we haven't tested the recent Dangerous Man Peanut Butter Porter to see how that compares.
To answer the question above, concerning how this pairing of ingredients adds up, it's a bit of all three scenarios. It doesn't crash and burn, but it fails to leave any impression at all.
American Sweetheart is a limited time seasonal available in 750 ml bottles in Wisconsin, including at American Sky's taproom in Hudson. It's the beer's third go-'round, but its first time in the bottle.
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