Have Your Dessert and Drink it, Too

Braxton Brewing Company's black raspberry chip milk stout is rich, creamy and deeply chocolatey with that finish of tartness, just like a scoop of its namesake.

click to enlarge Braxton’s and Graeter’s black raspberry chocolate chip milk stout - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
Braxton’s and Graeter’s black raspberry chocolate chip milk stout
If you thought a black raspberry chip beer was only possible in your dreams, Braxton Brewing Company’s recent release has likely come as a special treat. The brewery released a black raspberry chocolate chip milk stout at a tapping party on Feb. 3, complete with scoops of either Graeter’s vanilla bean ice cream or black raspberry chip to make an outrageous adult float. No wonder four-packs sold out that night.

Made with the same purée of black raspberries from Oregon’s Willamette Valley and with cocoa nibs from the same chocolate producer as Graeter’s famous candy-bar-sized “chips,” the stout is rich, creamy and deeply chocolatey with that finish of tartness, just like a scoop of its namesake. 

“We worked with Bob Graeter to create the ideal flavor and brewed three different test batches,” says Jonathan Gandolf, head of marketing at Braxton. “The finished result is from the raspberry-heavy test batch we made and the chocolate-heavy test batch we made to strike the perfect flavor.” 

Gandolf says half of consumers have swayed toward strong raspberry vibes and half toward chocolate, a balance he’s happy with since that’s what you expect sitting down to a pint of the frozen stuff.

It’s the first time either company has collaborated in this way. Tim Philpott, vice president of marketing at Graeter’s, says it was Braxton who came to Graeter’s with the idea, although the ice cream company had often wanted to arrange the marriage of craft beer and ice cream. “We hoped local craft ice cream and beer lovers would appreciate the locality of the brew,” Philpott says. “It truly provides an authentic taste of two Cincinnati favorites in one sip.”

Transforming well-loved desserts into beers isn’t a new concept. Beer can run savory or sweet, but the grains have lots of natural sugar, and like any neutral starting point they’re easily paired with a wide range of flavor profiles. 

Woodburn Brewery has a limited-release chocolate mint imperial stout that “literally tastes like a Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie” according to its website, and Streetside Brewery created a beer based on the flavors in a black forest cake called Where’s Barb. Taft’s Ale House has gotten on the dessert train, too, and has twice partnered with Findlay Market’s Maverick Chocolate Co. to create Liquid Advent (based on Maverick’s Fahrenheit 513 chocolate bar) and Taft’s Maverick Chocolate Porter (currently on tap). 

The infusion process took Taft’s about six months to perfect. “Maverick seemed like the perfect place to seek cacao guidance,” says Jared Hamilton, Taft’s head brewer. “When we set foot into Maverick’s shop, we knew we wanted to get that aroma into our beer, and we didn’t stop testing until we achieved that.” 

Paul Picton, president of Maverick, says the collaboration has been a huge success. “Beer and chocolate make great pairings as they both enhance your senses, and the flavors in each provide a wonderful complement to each other,” he says. 

In a twist on a classic, another brewery, Blank Slate, decided to turn its collaboration dessert beer — this one with The BonBonerie’s opera cream coffee beans — into a nitro. Nitro beers are carbonated with a higher percentage of nitrogen versus carbon dioxide than typical beers, creating tiny bubbles that make a beer taste less aggressive. 

“A nitro pour really accentuates the creaminess of the beer, smoothes out the coffee and almost gives it an ice cream-like mouthfeel,” says Scott LaFollette, proprietor at Blank Slate. “It definitely takes the beer to another level.” 

If there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that Cincinnatians go crazy for good dessert beer. 

“When we first released the beer, we had no idea how popular it would be,” LaFollette says. “We originally only intended to make one batch of it and that ended up selling out in a weekend.” 

On that note, don’t forget that Braxton’s black raspberry stout is limited release, but if you miss this one, Braxton and Graeter’s are making their flavor marriage last. Another collaboration is on the way, but this time the imitation could be flipped. Philpott says it could point to a new flavor of ice cream released as a summer bonus flavor. Fruit lambic sorbet, anyone? ©

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