The Whitman’s Sampler and Cape May Brews
Is there anything in the world more synonymous with Valentine’s Day than the Whitman’s Sampler?
Since 1842, the Whitman’s Chocolate Company has been churning out these boxes of delight year-round, but it seems that they become more prevalent in February.
And, while we agree with Mrs. Gump when she told us, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get,” had she simply looked at the interior of the box, she would have realized that there was a map of the chocolates therein waiting for her.
That little map made our job easier this week, as we paired our delicious beers with the delicious chocolates in that ubiquitous little yellow box.
Milk Chocolate Coconut — Key Lime Corrosion
There are few flavors that fare better when drenched in milk chocolate than coconut, and Whitman’s chewy, sweet-yet-almost-savory Milk Chocolate Coconut fares better than most. While the chocolate is creamy and delicious, there’s still that dryness to the coconut that you’ll want to overcome. Enter Key Lime Corrosion: the one-two punch of sour-tart will pair beautifully with the chocolate and coconut, the citrus in the beer creating flavors reminiscent of piña coladas, subbing lime for pineapple.
Chocolate-Covered Peanuts — That Grape Good Good
This one is almost a no-brainer: with the strong grape flavors from That Grape Good Good practically begging to be spread across a slice of Wonder bread and pressed together against a healthy helping of Crunchy Jif for a school day lunch, you’ll want to crack open a can of That Grape Good Good as you munch on the too-few chocolate-covered peanuts offered by Whitman’s.
Milk Chocolate Caramel — Always Ready
One of the most delicious candies in the box, the milk chocolate caramel is one that stays with you for a while — if you can get all of that caramel out of your teeth in a normal amount of time, you deserve a medal. You also deserve an Always Ready to go along with it. With the ultra-sweetness of the caramel, doubled-down by the milk chocolate, you’ll want to balance all of that sweetness with some hop bitterness, and Always Ready provides the perfect amount of hops for this pairing.
Dark Chocolate-Covered Almonds — Cape May IPA
These little guys make us weak. The bitterness of the dark chocolate merges beautifully with the slight sweetness of the almonds — were these covered in milk chocolate, the experience wouldn’t be nearly as delightful. The floral and citrus notes of the Cascade, Chinook, and Centennial hops in Cape May IPA balance against the dark chocolate while the sweetness of the almonds stand up well against the malty backbone of Cape May IPA.
Chocolate Whip — Mop Water
This is one of the simplest candies in the box. Soft chocolate nougat covered with milk chocolate, the dominant flavor is, of course, chocolate, but there’s a surprising cinnamon flavor on the finish. This is the mirror image of Mop Water: an unassuming brown ale with a surprising splash of spices, you’ll find even more delightful spices on the finish. Then, with Mop Water’s “s-load of vanilla”, throwing chocolate into the mix brings the entire experience to the next level.
Pecan & English Walnut Cluster — Honey Porter
This is a delicious and often-overlooked member of the Whitman’s Sampler, but the combination of pecans and English walnuts are truly unbelievable. Sweetness, earthiness, and nuttiness combine for an incredible experience, one that can only be augmented with the addition of our award-winning Honey Porter. If you’re pairing a beer with English Walnuts, you’ll want an English Porter — it only makes sense. The sweetness from the honey will bring out the flavors of the nuts, and the dark, roasty, maltiness of the beer is perfect with the chocolate.
Molasses Chew — Snag & Drop
There’s no denying it: this is a dark candy. Drowning in some delectable dark chocolate, the dark sweetness of molasses comes through on the first taste and persists strongly throughout the experience, holding on long after you’ve finished. You’ll want something with a ton of hops to balance the sweetness, and you won’t find a hoppier brew on our menu than our triple IPA, Snag & Drop.
Milk Chocolate Messenger Boy — Coastal Evacuation
He’s always there, hanging out in the middle of the Whitman’s Sampler, looking like a prize; however, we all know that he’s the most boring candy in the box. It’s just a slab of chocolate. Delicious chocolate, but chocolate nonetheless. It’s a perfect pairing for our flagship double IPA, Coastal Evacuation. With the solid bitterness of the Centennial-centric blend of hops, look to something sweet and creamy to balance it out. No frills: a simple, up-front pairing.
Fruit & Nut Caramel — Snowplace Like Home
It’s a bit enigmatic, the Fruit and Nut Caramel: you certainly get the flavors of fruits and nuts, but there doesn’t appear to be any actual fruit or nuts in the caramel, only those flavors. Our “winter warmer seltzer” is the perfect pairing for this chocolate. With a warm blend of fruit juices and spices, Snowplace Like Home will bring out the fruitiness in the caramel while the cinnamon and spices will hold up beautifully against the chocolate.
Cashew Cluster — Cape May White
Buttery and nutty and chocolatey all at the same time, the cashew cluster is as criminally overlooked as the Pecan & English Walnut Cluster. Cashews aren’t typically a nut one associates with chocolate, but the flavors work well together and will be made even better with Cape May White. The fruity esters compounded by the orange and lemon peels in Cape May White will be a lovely counterpart to the cashews, while the coriander and grains of paradise will be a nice addition to the chocolate.
Chocolate Truffle — Cape May Coffee Stout
Milk chocolate encasing a delicious cocoa truffle, the Chocolate Truffle in the Whitman’s Sampler leans more toward baking chocolate than anything else — it’s almost the best brownie you’ve ever had. Bitter, semi-sweet, and full of chocolate, adding Cape May Coffee Stout to the experience will pull you down into a dark sea of chocolate flavors, the bitterness of the coffee accentuating the bitterness of the truffle, while the milk chocolate will work to mellow it all out with a welcome layer of sweetness.
Milk Chocolate-Covered Toffee — Ties the Room Together
Crunchy, sweet, and filled with delectable brown sugar and buttery flavors, the Milk Chocolate-Covered Toffee is the only candy that shows up twice in the Whitman’s Sampler. (At least, in the $11.99 box. It may be more prevalent in the big box, but we didn’t want to spend a day of work eating 100 chocolates — 14 was too many.) Pair this one with the coffee creaminess in Ties the Room Together. The sweetness of the toffee will pair beautifully with the beer, and the lactose and vanilla in Ties the Room Together will bring that sweetness down a peg… tying the whole room together.
Cherry Cordial — Boughs of Barley 2020/R.A.D. #022
The most sought-after piece in the entire box, the cherry cordial balances an entire cherry, drowning in syrupy sweetness, with a healthy dose of milk chocolate. Some are smart enough to hold off before eating it, increasing their anticipation and saving it for the very last, while others make a beeline for it, with the cherry cordial barely making it a few seconds after the box is opened. And, when you’re pairing beer with cherries, there’s no better companion than a good Belgian quad, such as 2020’s Boughs of Barley or our R.A.D. #022. You’ll find a lot of complex, dark fruit flavors in those beers — raisins, sugar plums, etc. — such that the cherry will find its place among them.
Maple Fudge — Apple Bomb
Slathered in dark chocolate, the maple fudge underneath is absolutely delicious. It’s a light fudge, airy and delicate, with a strong shell of dark chocolate protecting it from the world. You’ll get a bit of the maple flavor on the back end, and it will pair beautifully with Apple Bomb. Apple and maple go insanely well together, and you’ll want the sweetness of the apple juice to balance the bitterness of the dark chocolate.
Skip the Candy — Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Milkshake IPA
Why bother with all of the calories from the Whitman’s Sampler when you can have your very own box-of-chocolates-in-beer-form with our Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Milkshake IPA? Brewed with a delicate touch of Midnight Wheat, a generous helping of sweet milk sugars, then conditioned on a plentiful serving of strawberry juice and enough Madagascar vanilla beans to make your mouth water, Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Milkshake IPA is an entire Whitman’s Sampler in a can.
However you choose to celebrate this weekend, you’ll need some Cape May brews by your side. Swing down to the Brewtique for beer-to-go or check out the Beer Finder for a retailer near you.