Dogfish Head Theobrama
Availability: Limited Release – 750ml bottles
Release Date: September 2008
This beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions. The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC. As per the analysis, Dogfish Head’s Theobroma (translated into ‘food of the gods’) is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs (from our friends at Askinosie Chocolate), honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds).
Theobroma is 10% abv and will be available in Champagne bottles for a September 2008 release.
Special kegs from our test batches may be available earlier in the year at Dogfish events around the country… keep yer eyes peeled!
Label art for Theobroma was designed by our friend Marq Spusta.
Our good friend Don Russell wrote a great article on Theobroma –
Feb. 8, 2008 | Chocolate beer: For Aztec warriors, not wusses
As Valentine’s Day rears its head, it seems appropriate to examine the unmanly topic of chocolate and beer.
I say “unmanly” because of all the strange, new brews that are challenging our palates these days, it’s chocolate-flavored beer that seems to draw the most viscerally negative response from the mainstream lager crowd. Offer a taste to one of these guys, and it’s as if they’d been asked to wear pink underwear and sip their suds from Lennox teacups.
A new body of archeological and chemical research, however, provides a completely different image. Namely: Aztec warriors dragging their human sacrifice to the top of a pyramid, ripping his still-beating heart from his chest, then cooking up the beaten corpse for a festive orgy.
And what did they wash it all down with? Chocolate beer, of course.
That’s right, the drink of choice in the Mesoamerican region was a fermented beverage made with the pulpy fruit surrounding the seeds of cacao trees. Researchers have discovered that the earliest inhabitants of Mexico and Central America were drinking something resembling chocolate beer at least 3,000 years ago.
“This was the most elite beverage in the Americas,” said Patrick McGovern, senior research scientist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. “It was made for the kings and the gods.”
McGovern was one of five authors of a 2007 research article that reported that the earliest use of cacao was not for the production of chocolate, but for alcohol. Chemical analysis of residue from pottery found in Honduras showed cacao-based beverages were consumed before 1000 B.C. If the research sounds familiar, that’s because McGovern also was instrumental in the earlier discoveries of an ancient honey-grape-and-saffron beer in the 700 B.C. tomb of King Midas, as well as a rice-honey-and-fruit beer dating to Neolithic China. Both were re-created as unique ales (Midas Touch and Chateau Jiahu) by Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.
So will the cacao brew found in Honduras. Next month, during Philly Beer Week, Dogfish Head will unveil Theobroma at the annual Michael Jackson tutored tasting at the Penn Museum. The new, historic recreation is made with cocoa powder and cocoa nibs, honey, chilies, and a fragrant seed called annatto. (Theobroma, which means “food of the gods,” is the name of the plant species that produces cocoa.)
According to McGovern, early Mesoamericans likely consumed the cacao tree’s fruit because the seeds were too bitter. As they discovered how to brew with the bean, they added honey, chilies and spices to offset the bitterness.
Traces of cacao beverages were found in a curious assortment of vessels, including one with a high neck that was used for pouring, and another spouted bottle with a wider, flared neck. Researchers theorize that the drink was poured back and forth between the vessels to produce an aromatic froth.
“The idea was to put a head on the drink so that you could breathe in the aroma while you were drinking,” McGovern said.
Consumption of cacao beverages, the article’s authors argue, “became a central dimension of social life in Mesoamerica.” Over the centuries, they emerged as an important part of Aztec and Mayan ceremonies. By the 1500s, Cortez and Diaz, the Spanish conquistadors, would send word back to Europe of flavorful chocolate drinks served at ritual events – including, presumably, those human sacrificial orgies.
Yum! Not to be overly manly on this Valentine’s Day, but I think we can all agree there’s nothing like a nice, cold pint of chocolate beer after getting your heart ripped out.