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Top 5 Valentine’s Day Brew Picks

Over a decade ago, the idea of pairing beer with chocolate was unheard of.  Today, the choices are endless – imperial stouts,  dessert IPAs, belgian quads bursting with candy sugars.  So this Valentine’s day, forget the wine and pair your Valentine’s sweets with a specially selected Valentine’s beer.  With so many to choose from, perhaps a few suggestions are in order.  Here are my top 5 Valentine’s Day brew picks.

5. 120 IPA by Dogfish Head

This is a rich, thick, sweet, decadent beer that pushes the ABV envelope.  Enjoy it like a fine cognac, sip slowly – it’s a powerful fruity, malty brew balanced with a generous hoppy bite.  Pull out the brandy snifters for this one, it’s dessert for hopheads.

4. Curieux by Allagash

Besides looking like an expensive bottle of liqueur, Curieux lives up to its opulent appearance.  This is Allagash’s belgian tripel aged in Jim Beam bourbon barrels.  This beer is clean, sweet,  fruity, full of character and laced with bourbon and vanilla.  Not your ordinary tripel, Curieux is special and deserves to be enjoyed on upscale occasions.

3. Chokolat by Southern Tier

Just buy a bottle of Southern Tier’s Chokolat and a box of strawberries (maybe some whipped cream) and you are set.  This beer is thick, smooth, creamy, sweet, and packed with unbelievable high quality belgian chocolate flavor.  Need I say more?

2. Gravitation by Smuttynose

My first experience with this beer was at SAVOR in DC.  It was paired with dark chocolate cups filled with a tangy sweet mango cream.  It had to be the most amazing beer/food pairing I’ve ever had, and for that, Gravitation has earned a permanent spot on my top 5 list.  Gravitation is a belgian quad, sweet with belgian candy sugars and dried fruit flavors, but in true Smuttynose style, its a strong beer that isn’t overwhelming.  Just unique and complex and absolutely outstanding when served with fruit and chocolate.  It’s also a seasonal that doesn’t hang around long once released.  So if you find it, grab a few bottles to keep around for special occasions like Valentine’s day.

1. Riserva by Weyerbacher

I realize sour ales aren’t everyone’s favorite, but I LOVE sour beers, so for me this is number one.  Weyerbacher’s Riserva is a rich, sweet, malty sour ale brimming with raspberry aroma and flavor.  Regardless of the wild yeast, I don’t consider this a funky beer – there’s no horse blanket here.  The sourness is well balanced with the malty sweetness and the fruit.  It’s just a delicious unique beer that’s worth exploring with your significant beer loving partner.

Any of these east coast beers are sure to win some hearts, but if all else fails, then go for the 90 proof raspberry whipped cream, available in the refrigerator section at your local liquor store!

Happy Valentines Day and Cheers Beers!

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Southern Tier: The Art of Dessert in a Glass

During a recent lunch at the Mt. Airy
Inn
(great new restaurant in Mt. Airy, MD with much needed high end beer selection on tap) I had the opportunity to sample Southern Tier’s Chokolat Imperial Chocolate Stout. Generally, dark “chocolate” stouts get their
chocolate notes from the dark malts. So I expected a nice thick, dark beer, higher on alcohol, and some sweetness. I took a sip and my immediate thought was “this is the best chocolate milk I’ve ever tasted in my life!”

Chokolat is dessert in a glass – thick, sweet, chocolaty, velvety smooth and brimming with top quality chocolate aroma and flavor. Between that and the alcohol content (11% ABV), Chokolat is a woman’s answer to hormonal bliss.

I wouldn’t recommend pairing it with a reuben.  Chokolat stands on its own as a sipper and would make a great evening night cap on a cold winter’s eve in front of the fire. In fact, the next time you make brownies from a box, substitute this beer in place of water and I’ll bet they’ll be fantastic!  But then that’s a whole different blog.

With the introduction of their Creme Brulee Stout and now Chokolat, Southern
Tier is winning over beer fans who don’t normally like beer. The price falls around $8 for a large bottle (~22 oz).  Its a much more interesting and delicious drinking experience than any $10 bottle of wine (in my opinion), and a little goes a long way.  So even if
you don’t care for beer, give Chokolat a try – it will enlighten you on what beer can be and what it has become.

Cheers Beers!

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