Does Chocolate Malt Beer Actually Contain Chocolate?

It can be difficult to keep track of beer these days, especially with the dramatic growth of the craft beer industry in the US — there were more than 3,000 brewpubs and nearly 3,500 taprooms in the country as of 2020, reports the Brewers Association. Although there's really only two main styles of beer when you come down to it (ales and lagers), once you factor in the many sub-styles out there, you're looking at more than 100 different styles of beer, according to Tapville Social.

Then there are all the different flavors of beer available now, some of which are downright bizarre, like coconut curry, smoked ham and bacon, pizza, oysters, and even Rocky Mountain oysters (which are not oysters at all), which may or may not contain the actual ingredients that the flavors evoke, reports The Daily Meal, In comparison, a chocolate beer sounds downright tame and, well, delicious, as least for chocolate lovers. And like the odder flavored beers out there, there may or may not be any actual chocolate in that chocolate beer.

Chocolate malt beer may not contain any real chocolate

Chocolate malt is usually made by roasting pale malt for a long period of time, explains Home Brew Answers. It adds flavor and color to largely dark beers, especially brown ales, stouts, and porters, notes Northern Brewer. The roasting process browns the malt and leads to a rich and bitter flavor that's comparable to that of chocolate, per Serious Eats. On its own, the flavor is actually closer to that of coffee or cocoa powder than a chocolate bar, though it is possible to achieve a sweeter chocolate flavor like that of milk chocolate with the addition of sweeter malts, like crystal malt, according to Home Brew Answers. Chocolate malt does not contain any chocolate.

There are chocolate beers out there that do include real chocolate. In addition to chocolate malt, these beers might add chocolate in the form of chocolate essence, cocoa powder, or cocoa nibs, which can be added at different stages in the brewing process, including mashing, boiling, fermentation, or aging, for different intensity of flavors, according to Chocolatour. So if you're looking for real chocolate in your beer, look for it in the ingredient list. If all you see is chocolate malt, then know that your beer doesn't contain any actual chocolate, even if it tastes like it does.