Shake Shack: one week of Mast Brothers’ Chocolate Beer Floats
It’s fair to say that Mast Brothers aren’t afraid to push the boat out a little. The New York-based chocolatiers are known for their unusual ingredients, with a trio of mushrooms, figs and walnuts embedded in sheep’s milk chocolate a particularly notable example of the pair’s creativity. So when they first announced their creation of a chocolate beer, there was considerable interest. Despite what the name suggests, it’s not chocolate porter; made from the same process that creates cold brewed coffee, this chocolate beer relies on purely on the excellence of the cacao beans for flavour.
From the 17th to the 23rd of August, Shake Shack Covent Garden will be be offering it in float form, topped with a slick of the ever popular vanilla frozen custard. We had with their signature burgers, the ShackMeister and the SmokeShack. Non-alcoholic, perfect for all ages and potentially full of interesting flavours, it should be a match made in heaven. Especially with Shake Shack’s talent for milkshakes, a thing of beauty which so often strikes the perfect balance of sweet and rich flavours to create shakes that are luxuriously creamy without ever crossing the line into over indulgence. Here though, they overstep that boundary a little.
Thick, rich, with more than a hint of sweetness, it initially seems more like a mild shake than an artisanal chocolate beer. It’s certainly not what we would expect a collaboration between these two excellent producers to taste like. Mast Brothers in particular are very good are presenting a diverse balance of flavours in their products, a talent that’s oddly absent here. It’s only at the end, in a robust finish that’s full of caramel and woody notes, that things become a little more clear. The custard is a comforting blanket of sugar that takes all the challenge out of the beer that it’s supposed to compliment. The result isn’t a bad drink by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s too timid and, frankly, mass market. It’s a niche product, dressed up for wide scale consumption in a way that does it no favours.
We scooped out half of the offending mixture and try again, and this time the results were much better. It still started sweet, but there was newfound variety and nuance. Nutty notes and hints of honey both emerged before they gave way to that same excellence finish and a lingering aftertaste that’s devilishly moreish. There’s a great drink here, looking for a way out. Our advice? Go and enjoy it whilst it’s there, but ask for a half or even a quarter measure of custard.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
Mast Brothers’ Chocolate Beer Float is available at Shake Shack Covent Garden from 17th to 23rd of August 2015, for further information visit here.