Geneva brewery and chocolate shop team up for holiday treat that benefits local nonprofit

Two Geneva businesses have combined their passions to create a tasty treat for the holidays.

Like a twist on the classic Reese's Peanut butter cup commercial, Penrose Brewing and Graham's Chocolates had a "hey, you got your chocolate in my beer, no you got your beer in my chocolate" collaboration that resulted in Penrose Graham's Chocolate Porter.

The recently released beer will be sold in four-packs of 16-ounce cans in local stores and featured on tap at several Geneva-area bars and restaurants through the holidays.

And in the holiday spirit, a portion of the proceeds will go to Tri-City Family Services, a Kane County nonprofit that provides counseling and other mental health services to clients of all ages and income levels.

Penrose sales manager Anthony Sperando said he came up with the idea after holding numerous tasting events with Graham's over the years, including pairings of beer with their chocolates and doughnuts.

"We had built a good relationship with them, so when I asked them about doing a Graham's beer ... they were all for it," Sperando said.

The beer is flavored cocoa nibs selected and used by Graham's, as well as a toasted chocolate malt Penrose chose.

"It's not in your face chocolate. It's just got a nice chocolate note to it and tastes like a great porter," Sperando said.

While chocolate in beer most frequently is associated with stouts, Sperando thought a porter would be more approachable since they're not as heavy. The beer comes in at 6% ABV.

Giving back to the Geneva community was an important part of the collaboration and Graham's CEO Jayni Wunderlich suggested Tri-City Family Services be the beneficiary.

"Tri-City Family Services is very dear to our heart," Wunderlich said. "It's such a great organization and they have a huge need, especially since COVID there has been an incredible need for mental health resources for people and demand is greater than they can handle. The more we can support them the better."

Wunderlich said it's "amazing" seeing the Graham's name on a beer can and loves the packaging, which has elements that mimic the stripes from Graham's boxes. The beer is available in cans or on tap at their coffeehouse, Graham's 318.

"I love it," Wunderlich said. "Secret tip: Pick up some of our vanilla ice cream and make a beer float. That's where it's at."

Penrose, which is distributed throughout Illinois and parts of Wisconsin, does numerous partnerships with local businesses, from special beer dinners to limited releases and more, Sperando said.

"It's essential, to put it simply," he said. "Their support makes up a massive amount of our business and we simply wouldn't be where we are today without them. That's why Geneva is so great because we support each other."

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