I love chocolate porters, stouts, and brown ales, but most of the commercial examples I have had lack the chocolate depth I desire, and many seem to get their chocolaty flavor more from dark malts than actual chocolate additions. I get it, though. As a homebrewer, I understand how challenging it is to infuse chocolate into beer, and there’s a fine line between your beer having no chocolate flavor at all and it being a stark, burnt-chocolate mess.

To add, ingredients in chocolate — such as lecithin, fat, milk, cocoa butter, oils, corn syrup, xanthan gums, sugar, etc. — can affect flavor, fermentation, and head retention, so most brewers use cacao nibs, baker’s chocolate, or cocoa powder in their chocolate beers. These ingredients are not easy to work with, though, as they don’t dissolve or extract well, they can easily become scorched during the boil, they can clog filters and pumps, and the sediment and residue can be difficult to remove. These forms of chocolate also have to be sterilized, most commonly by boiling or soaking in alcohol.

Cholaca, the world’s first and only pure liquid cacao, solves all of these problems, making it one of the most exciting and innovative new ingredients for brewers in a long time. The unsweetened version of Cholaca contains only cacao and water (sweetened versions also contain coconut sugar), and it is free of dairy, gluten, additives, preservatives, and emulsifiers, as well as organisms such as salmonella, E. coli, and botulism, which are commonly found in cacao nibs. Cholaca cacao is among the finest in the world, and it is sourced directly from fair trade farmers and co-ops in Ecuador and Peru. It is also organic, non-GMO, vegan, and paleo friendly.

Boulder, Colorado-based Cholaca is created using a proprietary process – something no other company in the world has been able to do up to this point. It can be added to the beer at any stage, though many brewers add it post fermentation. Essentially, Cholaca allows you to easily and consistently enhance your beer with chocolate, rather than trying to extract chocolate flavor from cumbersome nibs, fatty cocoa powders, sugary syrups, or synthetic-tasting extracts.

In my opinion, this product is a game changer for pro and home brewers wanting to make chocolate beers. Full disclosure: Cholaca did not pay me or even ask me to write any of this. After hearing about the product, I became intrigued, so I contacted them and acquired a sample. After tasting it and learning more about it, I truly believe it’s the real deal. I can’t wait for it to be sold locally so that I can buy it for brewing and for my morning coffee (it’s naturally energizing and an easy way to get the antioxidant/flavanoid health benefits of chocolate without all the sugar and fat). I imagine it would also work well in some cocktails, such as the chocolate martini.

PRO BREWERS: Dozens of commercial breweries have already made beers with Cholaca, and Cholaca is now distributed through Country Malt/Brewcraft USA. Brewers can order a free sample here. Cholaca’s pure liquid cacao is available in 1.5-gallon, 5-gallon, and 50-gallon wholesale sizes.

Cholaca began supplying breweries in 2015. Within a year, sales grew by 300%, and there are already commitments for over 3,000 gallons for 2017. Brewers are loving the ingredient so much that Cholaca had to create customized bulk containers to ensure optimum transfer and sanitation, and excellent consistency.

HOME BREWERS (in Washington): Currently, Cholaca is only available in Colorado stores or online (be sure to get the “Unsweetened” version), but it sounds like it will eventually make it up to Washington, most likely via Whole Foods. At about $1 per ounce, Cholaca may seem kind of pricey, but it’s essentially pure liquid chocolate, so it’s not much more than cacao nibs or cocoa powder, and it’s much more effective and easier to use. Sources I’ve read say that pro brewers typically use one-half to one gallon of Cholaca per barrel. Scaled down to a 5-gallon batch, that would be about 10 to 20 ounces, so one 32-oz. bottle could be used for up to 10 gallons of beer.