Chocolate, Chili And Ancient History

Dogfish Head’s Theobroma, an off-center rarity.

We’ve all at some point heard the phrase “Sugar and spice and everything nice.” It’s usually in our elementary playground arguments about whether boys or girls are better (I’m not even going to touch on that subject…but we know.) Rarely is it used to describe a beer, almost as rare as this off-centered Dogfish Head release. But then we throw in words like chili, chocolate, honey and beer, all great on their own merits, but mixed together to create a sensational craft brew? Is that really even a thing?

Dogfish Head’s rare release Theobroma is just such a thing, an outstanding craft brew to be more exact. Theobroma is actually an ancient word dating back to Aztec and Mayan Civilizations and translates to “Food of the gods.” This food they are referring to is chocolate and the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink to toast special occasions.

Based on chemical analysis of pottery found in Honduras, this drink was used as early as 1200 B.C. a full 500 years before it was previously believed humans even consumed cocoa. The Mayans and Aztecs would use this drink on special occasions and in celebrations. They would often use local chilies and corn to curb the bitterness of the cocoa. The Spanish then took this drink back to Europe and added sugar and the rest, as they say, is history. The chocolate love affair began.

Dogfish Head’s take on Theobroma is more than enough cause for celebration.

aztec and mayans theobroma photo
Photo by Mary P Madigan

Dogfish Head’s take on Theobroma is more than enough cause for celebration. By infusing chilies, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, honey and annatto (another fragrant tree seed), they have come up with a mouth-watering brew that tips the ABV scale at 9%. But that 9%, and the chilies as well, are extremely easy on the taste buds unlike some of its high alcohol counterparts. This is also part of their Ancient Ales Series that includes Midas Touch, Chateau Jiahu, Sah’tea, Kvasir, Birra Etrusca Bronze and Tahenket all of which are highly recommended beers.

Unfortunately, Theobroma is also considered one of Dogfish Head’s rare releases which can make it hard to find in some locations. So, if you happen to come across it in your travels, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Thankfully it is released in 750ml bottles as well as draft, so it travels well. In other words, you’re going to want to take a few home with you.

Photo by @joefoodie