Skip the roses, and reach for beer this Valentine’s Day
You may have heard rumors that Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Rose growers and makers of chocolate, greeting cards, teddy bears, sexy underthings, and wine all love this time of year. The day may be a favorite of those who are into such things, but what about the beer geek on your list?
If your beer lover is also a chocolate lover, you can find some fine brews to pair with said chocolate. My column from May 19th went into great depth about pairing beer and food, and the same rule applies – either go for a beer that compliments the chocolate or one that adds a nice contrast to make the chocolate really pop.
(Confession time: I have a chocolate allergy and really don’t eat any, so I’m relying on the interwebs and my chocolate-lovin’ wife for some help here. Shhh, we’ll keep it our secret.)
The obvious pairing with dark chocolate is a stout, although stick to a middle-of-the-road stout like Young’s excellent Double Chocolate Stout or Harpoon’s Chocolate Stout. If your stout leans too bitter or too sweet, it may not work particularly well as a dance partner. Some great non-stout complimentary local brews include Sam Adam’s Chocolate Bock or their Cherry Chocolate Bock.
If you prefer to contrast your dark chocolate, try a sweeter brew like Harpoon’s UFO Hefeweizen or UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen. Or, going even more local, try it with a Goodfellows’ Scottish Maple 80/- for a nice sweet malt bomb to balance the bitterness of the dark chocolate.
Milk chocolate is easier to pair with – go with a sweeter stout like the top-notch Left Hand Milk Stout or their nifty Good Juju ginger-flavored beer. Sticking with ginger, the surprisingly delicious Crabbe’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer might very well make a nifty counterbalance to the richness of the chocolate.
Of course, maybe chocolate isn’t your thing. If you want to zig when everyone else zags, give a nice floral beer instead of flowers. Ithaca’s Flower Power, Brooklyn Brewery’s East India Pale Ale, and Berkshire’s Lost Sailor IPA all have significant floral notes, as do many saisons and witbeirs. Pick up Pretty Things’ Jack D’or, brewed at Buzzards Bay in Westport, or try to find Allagash Saison, which has some nifty floral notes.
Or, heck, go all the way and find a brew that uses flowers! Angry Orchard’s Elderflower cider is available right now, and Magic Hat’s Pistil uses dandelions! The Angry Orchard is quite good, but Pistil really is more of a “give it a try” beer for me… I couldn’t have more than a couple before getting really tired of it. I’ve also heard good things about Founders’ Magnifico.
Buzzards Bay will re-launch Lizzy’s Famous “81 Whacks” Red IPA soon. It’s quite possibly my favorite beer by them, so I’ll be picking some up quite soon. It’s malty, hoppy, and has a pleasant lingering bitterness without a serious hop bite. Stop by their very cool tasting room/bar at the brewery in Westport to give it a try.
Homestead Hard Cider has finally cleared all their hurdles and has begun distribution. Right now, you’ll have to go to the Attleboro area to get some, but look for them to expand their market really soon. I look forward to trying their cider in the near future. (UPDATE: I tried it at the nifty Natty Greene’s Tavern in North Attleboro and it was delicious. Can’t wait for it to be available more locally.)
Keep your eyes (and pocketbook) open for Spencer Trappist Ale, the first Trappist brewery outside of Europe. From Spencer, MA, the ale is made by monks as an income vehicle, and they must be raking it in, as a 4-pack will cost anywhere from $17-$20. I’ve heard both great and not-so-great things about it, and have a 4-pack sitting in my basement waiting for me to be able to drink.
I haven’t tried Spencer’s ale because I haven’t had a beer since January 11. I’ve been doing a 30-day “Paleo Challenge” at my gym, Crossfit Dartmouth. The challenge, which I’ve loved, restricted me from having any grain, any dairy, any legumes, and any alcohol. I’ve lost at least 15 lbs, and feel amazing. The challenge ended yesterday, and I’ll probably have already had one by now. Check my Facebook page to see what I think of the Spencer Trappist Ale. I’ll probably stay largely paleo, but will reincorporate moderate amounts of grains, dairy, and of course, beer, into my diet.
Originally published on February 13, 2014