Beyond TODAY: Are Chocolate Beers the Most Female-Friendly?

Beyond TODAY is an extension of our weekly column for the TODAY Show food blog. Here we’ll look at the same subject from another angle, which will likely be far geekier.  Click here to see our latest TODAY Show post.

I know it’s a stereotype, but* women really do go crazy for chocolate.  It’s innate.  Last night before bed, my five year old daughter slumped her shoulders and said “I want chocolate” in a depressed tone.  I asked her if there was any in the pantry, figuring she could have a pre-bed snack, and she gave me a totally deflated “no.” Her announcement was completely out of left-field, but she’s certainly not alone.  Chocolate is the number one food women crave – even Oprah can back me up on this.

The article I just wrote for the TODAY Show was about how my wife and I sampled a handful of chocolate beers. I figured it’d be a fun thing to do and a good beer topic to cover for Valentine’s Day. 

My wife is always happy to sample a beer and tell me her thoughts, but nothing could match her enthusiasm when it came to trying out the chocolate beers I had brought home for her.  She was on point with tasting notes, observations about mouthfeel, and she kept an ongoing rank of the beers as she sampled them.  She was into it.

Between my daughter’s comments last night and my wife’s eagerness to taste any chocolate beer I put in front of her over the weekend, it struck me that chocolate beers might just be the most female-friendly kind of brews out there.  I further hypothesize that this is especially true of the one-note chocolate bombs like Southern Tier Choklat or Terrapin Moo Hoo, which forgo any attempt at geeky complexity and choose instead to simply knock you over the head with chocolate goodness.

If you were trying to introduce a non-foodie woman to the delights of craft beer, a chocolate brew might just be the way to go.  Of course you’d have to be careful, because other beers that lack a cocoa kick might very well pale by comparison.  I know that during our tasting, the beers my wife liked least were the ones that were the most complex and “beery.”  Even though she’s a bit of a beer geek, she wanted pure chocolate delight, not some beer with a hint of chocolate spackling together a malt backbone and a hop finish.  Chocolate beers might be an island with no bridge back to the craft beer mainland – a place where a woman’s interest in craft beer is cast away.

Anyway, that’s my theory.  What kind of beer do you think is best received by non-beer-geek ladies?

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* I wonder how many times people have been fired for going beyond this point of this sentence?

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Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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39 Comments on “Beyond TODAY: Are Chocolate Beers the Most Female-Friendly?”

  1. February 9, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    What’s the TODAY show?

    • February 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

      It’s a show about that day that wasn’t yesterday and hasn’t happened yet.

      • February 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

        TOMORROW?

        (Congrats on the gig!)

        • February 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

          I don’t think you’re getting it Daniel…although I’d totally watch the TOMORROW show, if only for the Lotto numbers.

      • February 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

        I’d suggest traveling to Charleston for Brewvival in a few weeks. They’re sure to have Westbrook Mexican Cake – an imperial stout aged on vanilla, cocoa nibs, cinnamon and habaneros. Might be the perfect chocolate beer. Founders Breakfast Stout is also on the list. Moo Hoo can blow me.

        • February 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

          That beer sounds awesome. I agree about Moo-Hoo – it’s a lightweight, but I’d never had it before, so that’s my excuse.

        • Josh
          February 11, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

          You look cold…do you live in the artic or something….You look like a SIerra Nevada Torpedo extra IPA guy! Nice image man, it definetly says Lager Brew. Cool stuff man.

    • John King
      February 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

      Quote of the Year.

      • February 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

        Figures you’d like that one, King!

        • February 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

          Jim, John, I got out of bed today at 3:15, drank a rye, ran 3 miles, poured another rye and am about to unveil something that will bring us all together. I’m like that dude from the popular show about advertising in the 50s. Except better.

        • February 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

          Can’t wait to see what you have up your beard..uhhh…sleeve, Dan. I’m sure it’ll be epic.

        • February 9, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

          OK, it’s up over at the home base.

  2. Don
    February 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    I had a bomber of the Rogue Chocolate Stout for Superbowl, and I agree that it starts off promising, but ends poorly. I kept getting a grassy flavor at the end. I think they did what they typically do and over hopped it. Man if they can just back off some, this would have been a great treat. As it was I don’t think I will try it again.

    • February 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

      It’s especially bad when tried back to back with other chocolate beers that don’t turn to crap after two seconds in your mouth. It’s night and day. I think you nailed it with the over-hopping. Bummer, too, because I really wanted to like this one.

  3. February 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    Jim, this can’t be a surprising development for you. May I refer you to Gwen Slaughter’s article entitled: Is Chocolate Physiologically or Psychologically Addictive?
    (http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro01/web2/Slaughter.html)

    Here are just 2 excerpts from Gwen’s article:

    “Substances found in chocolate, such as phenylethylamine, theobromine, anandamide and tryptophan trigger mood enhancing chemicals and neurotransmitters to be released in the brain. Phenylethylamine is a chemical found in the body that is similar to amphetamine. It helps mediate feelings of giddiness, attraction, euphoria and excitement. Researchers believe phenylethylamine causes the brain to release mesolimbic dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain, which peaks during an orgasm.” and

    “In the mid-nineties a study done by Doniele Piomelli and his coworkers found that chocolate contains substances that mimic the effects of marijuana. Piomelli found that anandamide, produced naturally in the brain and also found in chocolate, activates the same cellular receptors as THC, the agent in marijuana that causes a person to feel “high”. When a person smokes marijuana THC goes into the brain and activates all cannabinoid receptors.”

    The question I would ask is why would women even want men when they can have chocolate and beer together?

    • February 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      Because who would pay for the beer otherwise?!

      • February 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

        Ooooh! I think you just stepped in the oomgawah big guy. I expect we’ll see a rebuttal from GPO.

        • February 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

          I keep waiting for the backlash for the entire post, but so far it’s been okay.

          *keeps helmet snugged on head*

      • Don
        February 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

        I was thinking more along the lines of when you try to have sex with novelty chocolates they melt and are messy. But yeah, I could see the beer buying thing.

        • February 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

          Well there’s a visual for you!

  4. BeerBanker
    February 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    “Chocolate beers might be an island with no bridge back to the craft beer mainland – a place where a woman’s interest in craft beer is cast away.”

    Damn, you’re a regular Backyard Kipling…

    Oddly enough, I always thought the Rogue Shakespeare Stout to be more “chocolatey” in taste than their Chocolate Stout.

    • February 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

      I like it when a stout will give you a the deep impression of cocoa or coffee without either being used to make it. This is rare with a super-hopped stout, which usually gives you a licorice kick (think Victory Storm King). Unfortunately, Rogue Chocolate Stout is more like licorice rolled in lawn clippings and covered in chocolate. It start out nice, but quickly goes sideways.

      • February 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

        I too prefer “chocolate” beers that rely only on chocolate hops and the brewer’s art to instill that flavor to the beer. I love dark chocolate, but don’t necessarily need to have it added to my beer.

  5. Melissa
    February 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    I have to agree with the overall feeling that woman love chocolate beer. I am a beer geek and love a good well balanced beer. My favorite beer….. Boulevard’s Chocolate Ale.. It truly is like heaven in a glass.

    • February 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

      I’ve only had a couple of beers from Boulevard, but I’ve enjoyed them quite a bit. I bet they do rich-tasting beers well, so a chocolate ale sounds right up their alley.

  6. February 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Quite the lack of comment above by women (except Melissa), hmm, what to read into that? Maybe they’re all smoking a cigarette after drinking a chocolate beer.

    It’s also interesting that women, who are frequently described as complicated, may want a straightforward, uncomplicated chocolate beer. Your Today article seems to indicate men want the opposite when it comes to chocolate beer. There’s got to be grant money out there somewhere to study this.

    • February 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      I like where this is going, Linda. Perhaps I’ll get a white coat and start calling myself a behavioral beerologist. That has a nice ring to it – now let that research $$$$ roll in!

    • February 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

      I was surprised as well Linda–I really expected some kind of comeback from our female subscribers. Instead, I see that Tamre Mullins of GPO posted a parallel item entitled “Don’t Buy Me Chocolates! Buy Me Beer for Valentine’s Day!”

      Also, Gwen Slaughter’s article didn’t argue any gender bias in regards to the effect of chocolate on human beings. However, her article did contain three gender-specific segments, all relating to women, as follows:
      “This may be why women report to prefer chocolate to sex….Psychological associations with chocolate are influenced by a multitude of things, including hormonal and cultural influences. Women’s bodies scream for chocolate when premenstrual food cravings surface once a month. Many researchers argue that women crave chocolate prior to menstruation because it contains high levels of magnesium. Women experience magnesium deficiency prior to menstruation. However, many other non-craved foods also contain high levels of magnesium…Debra Zellner, Ph.D., a psychologist and professor at Shippensburg University, believes women crave chocolate because they have turned it into a nutritional taboo. It tastes wonderful, but it’s sinful because it’s loaded with fat and calories. Women crave chocolate when they are feeling low or before their periods because they have told themselves it is something they cannot have. Zellner conducted a study comparing chocolate cravings in Spanish and American women. She found that Spanish women, who did not see chocolate as a forbidden food, craved chocolate less than American women did. Zellner attributes chocolate cravings entirely to psychological associations and believes the bioactive chemicals found in chocolate occur in too small of amounts to have a neurological impact.”

      So it leaves a big question unanswered for me, why do old, bald, bearded fat men, like myself, love chocolate so much. My dad was indifferent to it, but my Mom was a chocoholic–as I am I. Nature or nurture?

      • February 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

        Massugu, I haven’t read the Slaughter article yet, but beyond all the multi-syllabic words and scientific methods, women might crave chocolate (and beer at times) because it’s less messy and time consuming than sex. I can’t account for the reason why you, regardless of age and quantity or lack of hair, love of chocolate. Probably that’s best.

        • February 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

          Plus even bad chocolate never let a lady down…

        • February 10, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

          I’m sure you’re right (LOL).

  7. February 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Apropos to this thread, and just in time for V’ Day, Flying Dog is advertising their just released:
    “Black Lager with Cherries…A unique take on a traditional style, our latest Brewhouse Rarities release is a Black Lager brewed with cherries and cocoa. Chocolate and spice greet the nose and flavors of sweet cherry, dark caramel, chocolate, and delicate earthy bitterness tease the palate….This draft-only release will be available in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia during the month of February.”

    It’ll be on tap at selected outlets–If I can find some to taste, I’ll let you know what I think.

    • February 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

      Cool – I’d like to hear your thoughts on it. I’ve had cherry/cocoa beers in the past, and they typically wind up tasting like Vicks cough drops. blech!

  8. Deb Barnes
    February 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Love this idea! I am a die hard Negro Modelo drinker. I feel it has a strong chocolate base. What’s your take on this particular beer? I will say as far as females not responding, maybe you should forward this article/blog to some of the ladies mags. They are all running articles on new and different Vday gifts. I can almost guarantee you will get quite a few POSITIVE comments. The older I get (mid-50′s, today’s my bday!) the less I care for “bubble beer” or being one of the crowd. I have friends who have been drinking the same “B” beer for 30 years! How boring! I take my own wherever I go, and strangely enough, I get very few moochers! I know what I like and that’s what I drink. I have made a few converts but mostly curious toe-in-the-water people. Our culture has not given beer the kind “sophisticated” allure than wine and whiskey have attained – hey PR/Advertising people: wake up! There are so many incredible brews out there. Try something new, maybe a RED BEER for Valentines.

  9. PJ
    February 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Been in the beer trade for 30 years , served over 1/2 a million pints in that time and looked after 1000 plus real ales. Chocolate stouts, are not beers, they’re ales. If you want a proper chocolate stout- cross the Atlantic and try Nethergate Old Growler – thats a quality item. You can’t beat us brits when it comes to brewing.

    • Don
      February 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

      PJ, that might be a bit of dialectic difference between the States and Britain. Here all Ales are Beers, but not all beers are ales.

  10. Sizzelpunch
    February 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    I brewed a Sweet (Milk) Pecan Stout about two weeks ago, racked to secondary 3 days ago. I would like to add some chocolate to it. I have a 1 Gal. carboy and a 1/2 Gallon carboy so I can experiment here. Do I just add some cocoa to a hop sack and how much? Or chocolate chips to hop sack, also I have blue-berries, maybe add that to one as well. Much appreciated…what you guys do here.
    Thank You.

    • Don
      February 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

      Josh, I’m not a brewer so consider that before you take any advice from me to be gospel, but I have talked to LOTS of brewers, some of which have their own breweries, and I have drank a TON of beer. I think you might be too late. Most brewers use cocoa nibs or specialty chocolate malts in the wort boil to infuse a chocolate flavor. I have heard of adding chocolate after, and in some cases they do this too to really give a beer a chocolate kick, but sometimes that can taste just like you added chocolate and not like it is infused into the beer. If I were you I would look up recipe’s online and see if one looks interesting to you. Or what the hell, give it a try, you might just like what you come up with. Good luck and happy brewing.

  11. Josh
    February 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

    Thanks Don. I’m sipping on a Sieral Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA right now and it is so drinkable and something like 7.2 ABV – its a IPA EXTRA that could pass as a table or session beer. I typically brew California commons like Red Nectar ale and Steam lagers which call for 2-Row and Crystal so its just a real simple grain bill but adds to a real crisp clean taste…I’ll have to send you a couple bottles of my better stuff to try if you want.

    I like the advise of checking out receipes. I did the Chocolate malt, Special B and roasted barley so it does have a roasted taste but I added the Lactose because it is not fermentable and adds to the Sweet taste, but I boiled the pecans for like 90 minutes and it totally bittered it out so i may try it to b alance it out… I hope i’m not killen you with useless info bro, but try the Torpedo – they made it with a device called a torpedo which extracts all the good oils out of the hops. cool.

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