Beer: The Most Romantic Drink of All

That high-stress relationship holiday is around the corner, and I’m sure florists, Hallmark, restaurants, and M&M Mars are poised to make a killing.  Yes, I’m referring to Valentine’s Day.  Inspired by Ms. Puckette’s article over here on her site, I feel wine is pretty well covered.  My focus will be on my first love, beer, and its ability to pair well with chocolate.

Right out of the gate, beer already has an edge over (most) wine when pairing with food- its carbonation.  Capable of cutting through rich, thick flavors and dense fat, those bubbles in beer act as a palette-cleanser.

Couple this cleansing ability with similar flavors found in chocolate, and beer is effective, versatile, and quite the complimentary beverage to chocolate.  Dark, roasty stouts and porters may contain black patent and/or chocolate specialty malts, providing flavor.  Some brewers even add chocolate itself into the recipe, as is the case with Samuel Smith Chocolate Stout made with organic cocoa.  Another option for pairing is a milk stout, such as Left Hand’s Nitro.  It’s brewed with lactose (milk sugar) which does not ferment out, leaving the beer a touch sweet.  Try milk stouts with chocolate high in cacao, to counter and soften the bitterness.

beer_and_chocolate

For those fans of spirits, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout or porter will provide a layer of depth and complexity to your chocolate pairing.  Bourbon barrels impart a dose of vanilla and caramel, plus a dryness due to the oak compounds.  Pair these brews with quality milk chocolate and experience something akin to a Milky Way Bar.

Something commonly paired with chocolate is fruit.  Combined with either white or traditional chocolate, fruit beers make excellent “chocolate-covered strawberry/cherry/raspberry” experiences.  A beer such as Founders Rübæus, or its big brother, Blushing Monk, are made with raspberry puree.  Raspberries also provide a hint of tartness, adding a balance to the rich, creaminess of chocolate.  Or, you could skip the fruit AND the chocolate, and blend a chocolate and fruit beer together, a la Samuel Smith’s strawberry and chocolate.

For the truly adventurous, perhaps something esoteric is in order.  The few of us who enjoy those whack-and-unwrap chocolate oranges, try Sierra Nevada’s Side Car (or any pale ale with hops that impart an orange flavor to the beer) with some creamy milk chocolate.

I know me and my wife will find some sort of awesome combination to celebrate this year’s romantic holiday.

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Beer for New Year’s Eve?!

This is a special post, as it’s not often I associate a specific beer with a specific holiday.  For many, ringing in the new year will be filled with toasts, and downing delicate, bubbly, pale wine from demure flutes.  Those of you who feel bound by tradition, but very much want to toast 2016 with beer, worry no more– I have your answer.  I give you, Bière de Champagne:

deus_story

The above beauty is brewed by Brouwerij (Brewery) Bosteels of Buggenhout, Belgium.  Touting 200 years of history, and multi-generational ownership, this brewery offers the logical and splendid alternative to fine champagne.  This is a relatively new style of beer which undergoes a similar process as champange, including the use of champagne yeast.  Mon Dieu!

What should you expect?  Taken from Bosteels site, a “light blonde to pale
golden beer, brightly scintillating, saturated and with extremely tiny
bubbles. DeuS is crowned by a fine linen white, meringue-like head.”

Notes in the aroma include fresh apples backed by mint, thyme, citrus, ginger, malt, pears, hops, allspice and cloves.

Ah, but what of the taste?  Bosteels provides an alluring description, “DeuS is delicate and complex. It glides over the tongue as smoothly as
silk and then blossoms into a creamy, tingling sparkle. DeuS is light and
vivacious and seduces you with the sweetness of a grape and the fruitiness
of a dessert apple. The finish is beautifully dry with a bare hint of tannin.”

I’ve been sitting on a bottle of this for about a year, waiting for just the right time to unwind the wire cage and pop the cork on this exotic brew.  I’ll be drinking this from a pilsner glass.  Anyone else going to join me on 12/31/15?

Additionally, if you’re celebrating with a different beer, I’d love to know what you’ve picked out.  Drop me a line, you just might invoke beer-envy in me.

I’ll be doing a review at about 12:02 am, 1/1/16, let’s see if I get the same qualities from the beer during my experience.

Sources:

Bosteels pdf

Bosteels website

and as always, BeerAdvocate