Beer definitely suffers from an image problem around Valentine’s Day. Since it is typically associated with loud, obnoxious frat boys, Norm from Cheers, and boorish, red-nosed sports fanatics and strip club patrons, beer is just not considered sexy. Wine enthusiasts are known as oenophiles or connoisseurs, while beer enthusiasts are known as geeks or nerds. Start talking about how much you love beer when you are on the make, and that prospect will get a mental image of a dude on the couch in his wife-beater and boxers, beer gut lapping over the waistband, hollering for another brew.
I am lucky to have a woman who loves beer almost as much as she loves me. On our first official date at the Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park, my future wife showed up with a cooler full of Sam Adams Cream Stout. Actually, there were only 2 left since she had already polished off the others. I didn’t believe in love at first sight until that moment.
If you are one of the many beer lovers whose partner think beer is gross, I have only one word for you: Chocolate. Chocolate is a universally recognized aphrodisiac and is pre-approved for Valentine’s Day. So what does this have to do with beer? Give your lover chocolate beer! There are a variety of beers brewed with or suggestive of chocolate. Most have no actual chocolate added, but come by the flavor via chocolate malts, roasted to caramelize the sugars and introduce chocolate-like flavors. Others have cocoa beans, nibs or powder. Some actually contain baker’s chocolate or even sweet chocolate.
Just to clarify, these beers do not taste like a candy bar, a truffle, or even a cup of cocoa. The chocolate is just one part of a complex flavor profile that often includes roasted coffee bitterness and citrusy, spicy tang from the hops. So break out one of these chocolate beers next week to share with your loved one and let me know how it worked out for you, but bring some actual chocolates or some sweet wine for back-up.Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (Young’s & Co.’s Brewery PLC, London, UK):
A sweet, English stout (as opposed to a dry Irish stout like Guinness), this is as easy-drinking a stout as you’ll likely find. Very little roasted bitterness and lots of silky chocolate goodness. Low carbonation and modest alcohol content make it a good choice for stout neophytes, which is not to say that it is anything less than a world class beer.Rogue Chocolate Stout (Rogue Ales Brewery, Newport Oregon):
Thick, black stout, with a huge aroma of cocoa and dark chocolate. Taste is well-balanced between sweet and bitter, with a nice flavor of dark fruits and earthy hops. Surprisingly easy drinking, although this might be a bit of a challenge for those afraid of the dark.Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence (Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY):
Made with actual Belgian chocolate, this Belgian take on the classic English-style stout is lighter in body and mouthfeel than a typical stout. Cocoa, coffee, raisins, and a bit of honey sweetness characterize the flavor, along with a mineral tang and a somewhat oily finish. Let this one warm up a bit on the counter while you light the candles and turn on the Barry White.
If you want to get really extravagant (and Lord knows they like it when you spend money on them), you can head over to eBay and pick up a 22-oz. bottle of Foothills Brewing Company’s VD release, Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout
for a cool $125. Only 500 bottles were sold in front of the brewery on Saturday, leading to a beery feeding frenzy and the subsequent rampant capitalism frenzy. This one is said to be loaded with chocolate flavor and the label alone might be worth the investment.Three of My Favorite Things
The Brick Store Pub
has the perfect warm up to Valentine’s Day, serving Dogfish Head rare drafts and bottles paired with exotic cheeses and chocolates on Tues., Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. Call the Brick Store at 404-687-0990 for more information. The cost is $30 per person and includes 3 cheeses, 2 chocolates and 5 Dogfish Head beers.Four of My Favorite Things
As if cheese, chocolate and beer weren’t enough reasons to be at the Brick Store Tuesday, Duck-Rabbit brewer Paul Phillippon will be on hand with kegs of all 4 seasonals from this North Carolina microbrewery that is being introduced to the Georgia market this month. See my Talking Head column
from a few weeks ago for background on this unique brand.Beer Dinner Postponed
The beer dinner tonight (Thurs., Feb. 7) at Twain’s
has been postponed until Thurs., Mar. 6, due to the illness of brewer Jordan Fleetwood. The introduction of his Captain Stormfield Abbey Ale will also be delayed as a result. Get better, Jordan, and then get in that kitchen, a cook me some beer!