The Belgian firm has signed a licensing agreement with three Belgian breweries to produce beer-filled pralines under the ChocOBeer brand.
Beer and chocolate not an easy combo
Mieke Vandenberghe, joint owner of Carré Chocolates told ConfectioneryNews that the 21-year-old company began by producing chocolate with liquid fillings such as liqueurs and wine and had long aspired to produce a beer version.
“It’s the best of both in one product: Belgian chocolate with Belgian beer. It’s not easy to create chocolate with beer,” she said.
Her husband and joint owner Dirk Naert added: “It’s because our production process was based on a higher content of alcohol so it was difficult to do it with less alcohol content. Also beer is difficult to have a flavor that is not only powerful but blends well with chocolate.”
“Every type of beer goes, but in Belgium there’s a real trend to drink beer more like wine – it’s this trend we are following with our chocolate tastes.” Carré beer chocolates consequently use stronger beer with a higher alcohol content.
Interest from Asia
ChocOBeer is currently sold in Belgium, but Naert said that the firm had received great interest from Asia at the International Sweets and Biscuits Fair (ISM) in Cologne, Germany last week.
“We see big potential in Asia, Germany also and maybe France. These are markets that are getting more and more interested in Belgium beer.”
Carré Chocolates first secured an agreement with Bokor Brewery, situated five kilometers away from Carré’s factory in Moen, Belgium.
“That was the first victory,” said Vandenberghe. “The brewery is well known in Belgium and also a little bit abroad. We have also chosen two other breweries.”
Carré Chocolate added Belgian breweries Palm and De Halve Maan and now produces nine different beer chocolate flavors, shaped and packaged as small beer bottles.
The company is able to mix the beers from the three breweries in its boxed chocolates.
In Belgium, ChocOBeer comes boxed in eight pieces, in a wooden crate with 16 pieces or in a traditional Ballotin with 15 chocolates. The company also has a two and half kilo crate for specialty shops.
Beer chocolate production
“We also took a patent on the product, so this product is patent pending,” said Vandenberghe.
ChocOBeer is handmade by seven workers at the company’s factory. “I think that will change in future because with this concept and all the contacts we have now, there is a lot of interest in the product,” said Vandenberghe.
We asked if there was a great deal of competition in the beer chocolate niche.
Naert said: “There have been some in Belgium trying but the unique thing about our product is that it’s liquid and it’s not a ganache or a jelly with some beer.”
The husband and wife team said that the brand was not restricted by regulations since each praline contained less than 5% alcohol. However, they conceded that varying regulations in the US states made market entry into America difficult.