While most think of chocolate and wine as the perfect pairing, residents in the Western N.C. mountain town of Sylva decided to mix it up and pair the area’s favorite indulgences – chocolate and beer. Baxley’s Chocolates and Innovation Brewing, both located in downtown Sylva, have joined forces to launch a beer and chocolate pairing just in time for April’s N.C. Beer Month.
All handmade chocolates were carefully and thoughtfully paired with some of the county’s best craft beers on tap. Visitors can now pick up a box year-round at Baxley’s or Innovation and sample how well locally crafted beer and chocolate go together. These selections were designed to enhance and complement the flavors found in the beers and chocolates. Each box includes a complimentary solid dark chocolate that pairs with everything, allowing tasters to get creative. Boxes are available for one or two people and are at both Baxley’s and Innovation Brewing in Sylva starting April 1.
“There are so many wonderful locally-owned businesses in downtown Sylva, and we are all supportive of each other and always looking for new ways to collaborate to showcase our town in the best way,” said Baxley’s Chocolates co-owner Lauren Baxley. “We loved working with Innovation to figure out which flavors either complemented each other or revealed a hidden flavor that you might not otherwise notice.”
Baxley’s Chocolates, located in downtown Sylva, is a local chocolatier that creates premium handmade chocolates in small batches using the highest quality ingredients available. Baxley’s has been “Crafting Sweet Memories” for three generations and is currently co-owned by Lauren Baxley and her parents, Steve and Beth. The shop offers a full line of traditional chocolates including caramels, toffee, meltaways, sugar plums, malted milk balls and truffles. Fudge, peanut brittle, and a variety of fruit, nut and snack mixes are also available.
Sylva’s Innovation Brewing features both traditional brews and several seasonal and experimental beers. The seven-barrel brew house turns out more than 30 beers on tap, with 12 year-round favorites. Owners Nicole Dexter and Chip Owen are continuously evolving and crafting new and unique beer styles. The brewery loves to experiment with a variety of fun and fresh ingredients to stimulate guests’ palates and senses.
“Chocolate and beer pairings are relatively up-and-coming,” said Baxley. “When I first started, I’d never heard of it. Now it’s exciting to see that people are realizing that it doesn’t have to be just chocolate and wine, but that beer is also an excellent pair.”
The following will be included with each pairing:
- Afternoon Delight Blonde Ale 4.3% and Milk Chocolate Coconut Haystack– This light ale is crisp, clean and refreshing. The minimum hop addition as well as the mild yeast allows for the subtle flavors of the malt to shine through. It blends beautifully with the haystack offering hints of stone fruits and jasmine reminiscent of a soft summer night.
- Spaceman Pale Ale 5.0% and Dark Chocolate Sugar Plum– This medium bodied pale ale is bursting with hop flavor and aroma. Spaceman has all the flavors of an IPA without the accompanied hop bitterness. The tropical fruit notes radiate through in this beer enhancing the complexities of the apricots, dates and walnuts in the Sugar Plum. They may just dance in your head.
- Phat Chance Amber 5.2% and Milk Chocolate Catamount Paw– This is a medium bodied amber ale. Rich with caramel and nutty notes which come from the variety of toasted malts used. There is little hop presence, allowing the malt to be the star of the beer. It deepens the caramel impact of the Catamount Paw as well as bringing out the pecan notes. A perfect pairing!
- Bear Lake Brown 4.9% and Milk Chocolate Orange Butter Crème– This mild, slightly sweet brown ale is loaded with toasted malt flavor with almost no hop attributes. It makes for a smooth, balanced beer that pairs well with the Orange Butter Crème. The dairy notes from the chocolate and butter and the freshness of the orange zest combined with this great ale will make you forget about the frozen desert on a stick.
- Black Balsam Porter 5.5% and Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Meltaway– This silky smooth and robust dark ale is loaded with roasted flavor. The kiln roasted malts lend notes of rich chocolate and coffee to the flavor profile. The porter really deepens the flavor of the natural peanut butter in the meltaway. When combined, it’s like the peanuts are roasting in your mouth.
About Jackson County, NC
Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville and Sapphire are the distinct locales that make up Western North Carolina’s Jackson County. Each of these Blue Ridge Mountain towns provide natural beauty that invites visitors to experience the North Carolina Mountains. Jackson County is also home to the nation’s first and only fly-fishing trail, The Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail. The majestic mountains harbor miles of hiking trails and waterfalls while charming downtowns are known for shopping, dining, culture, and hometown atmosphere. For more information visit, www.DiscoverJacksonNC.com.