Monday, February 13, 2012

Love Will Keep Us Together

Tomorrow is the most romantic day of the year.

At some point in history the greeting card folks and the candy companies called a cabal and agreed that mid-winter was far to lovey-dovey, not to cash in on. I'm fairly sure that Saint (or Saints, as it may be) Valentine wasn't a particularly romantic guy, but who knows? Maybe he loved candy hearts with Be Mine, written on them. In any case, we are left with February 14th as the official day or red hearts, chocolate and roses for one's sweetie. I can tell you one thing for sure, a mid-week Valentine's Day, for me will most likely involve, getting the kids home from school, heart-shaped pancakes for dinner, and split duty for Amy and I getting Zoe and Will to bed—after they've had enough sugar during the day to violate Olympic doping regulations.

Any other time of the year and this guy
would be arrested for indecent exposure.
Nevertheless, I figured I'd give a some suggestions for a few Valentine's Day brews. Beer is like it's own valentine—you can enjoy it with your sweetheart, or alone in your living room, watching Dancing with the Stars. Truthfully, beer is pretty un-romantic, but if Hallmark can manipulate emotions, for their own purposes, so can I.

Since love isn't a typical flavor profile in beer, I'm going to have to go with characteristics that are a little less ethereal. When I think of Valentine's Day, two things come to mind—chocolate and strawberries. I found two beers that, not only emulate those flavors, they emulate them very well.

Chocolate is up first. Logically, when one thinks chocolate and beer, thoughts go first to Young's Double Chocolate Stout, but I thought that to be to
easy. Instead, I chose Rogue's Chocolate Stout—a beer I've never had—and isn't it a chocolate lovers beery dream come true. This obsidian brew smells like a mug of hot chocolate, and drinks like a mocha latte. It's smooth and creamy and, in my experience, is one of the chocolaty beers I've ever had. It has a great amount of bitterness, just enough to make this stout sweet, but not cloying. Lucy Van Pelt of the comic strip Peanuts once said: "All you really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt ." That holds true for Rogue's Chocolate Stout. Admittedly, I'm not a super chocolate fan. It's okay and I like it, but I lean more toward apple pie and ice cream, rather than being a brownie and hot fudge kind of guy. This Stout however, like cupid's arrow, really hit the mark.

Chocolate beers are relatively easy to come by, strawberry ones are a bit more difficult. There are a number of American, berry-spiked brews, like Sly Fox's Black Raspberry Reserve or Wachusetts' Blueberry Ale, but strawberry (my personal favorite berry) seems to have been over-looked or underutilized. The Belgians, however, came through in the clutch. The kings of "fruiting the beer" have long been adding fruit to their beloved lambics for decades. While the raspberry-laced Lindeman's Framboise, is arguably the most famous of these beer, their Belgian brethren over at Brouwerij Timmermans, in Dilbeek, have embraced the little, heart shaped fruit of Valentines Day. As the Rogue smelled of cocoa, this little lambic reeked of strawberries upon opening, like a bowl full of fresh berries, being sliced up for pie—although it's murky, pink-ish red hue might put some off. Regardless of it's appearance, it's tart, sweet, just a touch spicy, and it has a funky hit of lambic yeast. Raspberry and cherry may be the go-to berries for lambic, but trust me, give the little strawberry a chance too.

Whatever your doing for V-Day, remember, if you can't be with the one you love, love the one your with. As long as I can't see you doing it, do whatever you want while your alone, in the dark, in front of your computer.

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