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The Weekly Beer Geek

Weekly Beer Review: Breckenridge Brewery’s Chocolate Orange

Chocolate Orange Stout (Nitro)
Breckenridge Brewery
$3.19/Can (15.2 oz)
Grade C-

The Beginning
When I was young, I was once dazzled by getting one of those chocolate oranges for Christmas. It was chocolate! And an orange! And you got to smash it on a table to open it into wedges! I’ve had them now and then over the years, an always-delicious treat that merges two tastes that seldom get to share the stage. So imagine my surprise when I learned Breckenridge was making an orange chocolate BEER! Top that off with the fact that it’s on Nitro (and therefore creamy and probably delicious) and comes in [sort of] pints, and I’m in.

The Brewer’s Pitch:
Breckenridge didn’t go into this one alone- they partnered with Cholaca, a purveyor of fine liquid cacao. That’s right, this isn’t just a stout with chocolate notes, or some sweetness and a creamy texture, this one has straight chocolate juice poured right in along with orange zest. The nitrogen makes the whole package velvet-smooth, and although Breckenridge bills it as a wintertime indulgence (like that long ago chocolate orange) I can’t see it being bad any time. The chocolate and orange are complemented by roasted malt, and a recently-developed hop varietal from Germany carries its own tangerine aromas to enhance the citrus. This promises to be incredibly smooth and decadent.

The Beer:
This pours a gorgeous creamy brown, quickly separating into a deep brown bottom, a hazy zone of rising bubbles, and a dense milky caramel head. The nose is barely there, faint hints of roast smoke but nothing much. It’s very smooth but also light, and feels a bit watery at the back end. At first blush it’s a hit of lightly sweet roast, almost like a delicate porter. The orange isn’t there for a second, but it begins to slowly assert itself in the back end as you get used to the flavors. It’s subtle, but presents as faint juicy notes and a hint of orange spice that perfume the back end of the beer. The chocolate never truly develops but there are hints of cocoa nib in the body of the beer, competing with the faint bitterness of the roast.

The Breakdown:
What a letdown! While the nitro keeps it smooth, Chocolate Orange isn’t nearly full bodied or velvety enough. It’s watery, especially the second half of the can, and the flavors are all muted and dilute. There IS some chocolate but it’s not really any stronger than other chocolatey beers, fancy cacao or not. The orange has some promise, and I’d definitely be interested in trying some other orange stouts- the juicy sweetness and spicy zest could be a good contrast in a more vibrant beer, but this one just doesn’t pack enough punch.

The Bottom Line
This can is 15.2 fluid ounces. Usually a weird number of ounces means that the volume is in milliliters- but 15.2 ounces is 449 ml. There’s some rounding going on somewhere in here, and I don’t trust it one bit.

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