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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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Santa’s Got a Brand New Beer: Weyerbacher’s Riserva

One thing I learned this Christmas is that Santa has REALLY good taste in beer.  In fact, he hit the jackpot because under the tree, all upright and wrapped, sat three tall bottles of the finest sour beers untapped.   Anyone who says you can’t compare beer to fine wine hasn’t tried Cantion, Rodenbach, or Weyerbacher’s Riserva (2009).

Weyerbacher Brewing Company is located in Easton, Pennsylvania – not far from Stoudt’s, Victory, Iron Hill, and Lancaster Brewing Companies – and they brew quite a large selection of quality beers, including some outstanding belgian styles.  Riserva is a very special limited release beer, described as an american sour ale aged in oak barrels. Speaking not as a beer expert (I only know what I’ve had and what I like), but as a fan of belgian style flemish sour beers (an acquired taste for certain), Riserva stands tall under my tree with two of the finest sour beers around.

Weyerbacher's Riserva is a belgian style sour ale bursting with raspberry fruit and wild yeast flavors. http://www.weyerbacher.com

Amazingly fragrant with raspberry and wild yeast aromas, this beer is crisp and tart with a nice balance of sweet fruitiness.  There’s no skimping on the raspberries, the flavor is apparent in every sip, but not overwhelming by any means.  If you’re a fan of belgian flemish sour ales, then you’ll quickly forgive the PA origin (and the $20 price tag) and accept this delectable brew as a testament that some beers are indeed hoity toity and worthy of comparison with fine wines.  In fact, I question whether fine wines are worthy of comparison with such a beer.  I’ve tasted a lot of wine, but never one as interesting and intoxicating as Riserva.  But alas, I will leave that topic for the wine snobs to haggle over. We beer lovers know better.

Cheers beers!

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