I’d be remiss in letting Valentine’s Day go by without offering up some beer suggestions for those so inclined. Keep in mind, though, that just because you might like beer, that doesn’t mean your significant other will, so take all this with a grain of salt.
First off, there’s an article on MercuryNews.com about beer and chocolate (however, the site requires user registration to access the article, so I’m not linking it directly. Those required registrations to news sites annoy me), with two angles: pairing types of beer with chocolate, and beer brewed with chocolate.
Think pork loin with creamy milk chocolate mashed potatoes served with the Los Gatos Brewing Co.’s Pale Ale. Or cocoa-crusted sweetbreads with white chocolate parsnip flan paired with Bosteels Kwak Ale of Belgium. Or pan-seared skate with foie gras and chocolate balsamic brown butter accompanied by Bosteels Tripel Karmeleit. Those are among the imaginative dishes that have starred at Slosberg’s events.
After all, chocolate has the marvelous ability to make so many foods lusher and richer, and beer is bold enough to heighten or contrast that….
Dark beers, with fruity, spicy, coffee, almost chocolate-y flavors, go exceptionally well with dark chocolates, Slosberg says. Dark beers such as stouts or porters also are a great foil for dark chocolate caramels. Amber ales, with their nutty, Grape Nuts-like taste, are ideal with chocolates with nuts. Amber ales done in the Belgian Abbey style, which is stronger, thicker and fruitier, go wonderfully with medium dark chocolates with fruit, especially strawberries. And India pale ales, which have a strong malty flavor, go well with milk chocolates that aren’t overwhelmingly sweet.
I think the advice above on pairing beer with chocolate sounds more appealing that the chocolate dishes. White chocolate parsnip flan? Chocolate balsamic brown butter?
I’d say stick to the chocolate flavored brews, especially if your tastes run to rich, darker beers. Some ones to try are Rogue‘s excellent Chocolate Stout, Samuel Adams‘ Chocolate Bock (recommended by the Mercury News article), Brooklyn Brewery‘s Black Chocolate Stout, or Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.
For the homebrewer, try Papazian’s Unspoken Passion Imperial Stout from The Home Brewer’s Companion. I’ve always wanted to try it. It’s a big beer, with 11 pounds of raspberries. (Okay, not this year, but you could always brew it in time for next Valentine’s Day.)
Of course, many people are not fans of dark beer. Or even beer in general. So my next suggestion is something that almost can’t go wrong: Lambic. My wife loves Lindemans Framboise in particular, a delicious raspberry lambic with a taste that’s about as far away from beer as you can get.
Ironically, this article in the Anchorage Press is on exactly this topic and beer.
The resounding, annual Valentine’s Day favorite is Lindemans Framboise, which is a raspberry lambic from Vlezenbeek, Belgium. The deep, reddish purple will score easy points with your lady, and it smells of sweet, hand-picked raspberries. This is followed by a very sweet, cloying raspberry concoction that sours appreciably in the end, and only resembles beer because it’s got some light carbonation. Framboise drinks more like a soda pop than a beer. It’s 4 percent alcohol by volume, so you can woo her with more than one. Lindemans Framboise is considered one of the sexiest beers around by some.
Framboise will be fantastic with any dessert made from chocolate. Another Lindemans lambic, Peche (peach) is said to go very well with cheesecake. Both beers (and types of desserts) are of course perfect Valentine’s Day delicacies.
And, one final suggestion: mead. Mead is a beer-like beverage brewed from honey rather that barley, and is often more like a wine (or champagne) than a beer. If you can find it commercially, look for a sweet mead, or perhaps a sparkling mead. Or one brewed with fruit. I’ll be honest, though, that while I’ve had a good homebrewed mead, I’ve not had as much luck with the few commercial ones I’ve tried (although that’s as likely a side effect of living in a small town in Central Oregon). If you go this route, try pairing a sparkling mead with fruit (like strawberries), and a sweet mead with a lighter, non-chocolate dessert (a custard, perhaps).
Good luck, and happy Valentine’s Day!