The candles are lit. Barry White is oozing sultry and seductive bass-filled lyrics of love out of your speakers. Your heart rate is elevating rapidly in anticipation for what you know you want so badly you can almost taste it. . . Beer. Beer and chocolate. What did you think I meant, Captain Pervert?!?!
This Valentine’s Day, I am throwing out the challenge to try something new. Ditch the strawberries and the champagne in exchange for beer and chocolate. The flavors of chocolates and stouts might seem to be the obvious choice because of all the aromatic and flavor similarities. However, when you really delve deep into the flavor wheel of beer, you find that barleywines, brown ales, scotch ales, and krieks are all viable options.
Where do you start? Well, I suggest picking your favorite beers and then grabbing a few chocolate bars to mix and match. So, here is a list of some of my favorite go-to’s when it comes to local beers in the Twin Cities and beyond.
12welve Eyes Legacy Chocolate Stout
This is a great beer to pair with chocolate because it has a wonderful chocolate character on its own. The 12welve Eyes Legacy Chocolate Stout is nicely balanced between chocolate sweetness and roasty dark malts. It has a great body to it and would hold up to any chocolate that is rich and decadent. You could pair this with a dark chocolate of high cacao percentage, a luscious milk chocolate, or even some type of chocolate truffle with peanut butter or coconut. I am not sure if this is out in crowlers, so you might have to get it at their taproom.
Tin Whiskers Lecky Scottish Ale
This beer has a bit of smoke to it, but don’t let that scare you. It also has a rich malty backbone with hints of caramel and toffee. I think that the medium body of this beer might have you wanting to stick with a middle of the road richness chocolate, but I think that the smokiness of the beer would help the beer hold up to richer chocolate. I think that a nice dark chocolate bar with bacon in it would pair well with the Tin Whiskers Lecky Scottish Ale. This beer should be on shelves at your favorite liquor store that carries Tin Whiskers.
Lift Bridge Commander Barleywine
You should be able to find a bottle of this at your local bottle shop. What I like about Lift Bridge’s Commander is that each bottle is visited by the Cardamom fairy. A little Cardamom goes a long way and Lift Bridge uses just the right amount of spice in this sipper. The high alcohol level will stand up to a rich chocolate dessert. There are flavors of caramel and toffee in this beer and so you should maybe stick to a darker chocolate with a high cocoa content. The dark chocolate bitterness from a 60% and up cocoa percentage will go well with the toffee and spice in the beer. A spice cake or something like Tiramisu would also be a nice match for the Commander because of the spiced nature of the beer.
Urban Growler Plow to Pint Wild Rice Brown Ale
The nuttiness in this beer will be a nice compliment to a milk chocolate with hazelnut or almond. This is a roasty beer and the sweetness of the milk chocolate will balance it out. The beer has a nice body and won’t get overpowered by the higher fat content of the milk chocolate. Since it is in Urban Growler’s Plow to Pint Series, it will have to be in a growler as this beer is not distributed outside the taproom.
Waconia Brewing Company Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter
Waconia Brewing Company’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter is readily available in 4-pack cans. This is a very versatile beer to pair with because it has a little bit of everything in it. Roasted peanuts, milk chocolate, and a nic
e body are all reasons why I am calling this beer a wild card. Have fun with it. If you want to pair it with a chocolate peanut butter chocolate bar, you will not be disappointed. I also think you could enjoy a dark chocolate with it, too.
Modist Brewing Ritual Night Mexican Stout
Dark, intriguing, and spicy aren’t just keywords that show up in my Tinder profile. They also describe one of my favorite beers in the Twin Cities. Modist’s Ritual Night has sweet, spicy, and chocolate richness; all supported by a decent-bodied beer. I think that you could really have fun with this pairing. You could put it up against a chili chocolate bar and have a really intense spicy build. You could also find a gentler milk chocolate that would tamper down a bit of the bite from the dark chocolate and spicy dryness of the beer. If you are lucky enough to find a 4-pack of cans of this in stores, consider yourself blessed. The beer is available in the taproom and you can pick up a crowler of it if you don’t want to hunt around for it in liquor stores.
There are plenty of beers with fruit in them that woefully miss their mark. The New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red has the perfect mix of sweet and tart flavors to make it a fantastic beer. Because of this balance, it pairs superbly with chocolate, both milk, and dark. Think chocolate-covered cherry cordial. Think your favorite chocolate cheesecake with a fruit topping. This is a can’t-miss paring and it will probably convert even the staunchest of sour beer haters to at becoming a believer. This beer is not distributed in MN but is easily attainable by heading to Hudson and stopping by Casanova Liquors.
Valentine’s Day has always been a mixed bag for me. Sometimes I plan something crazy and there is usually something that doesn’t go right. Being that Valentine’s Day is in the middle of the work week, the 7-course wine dinner might not be ideal if you have a stack of TPS reports to get to in the morning. Hopefully, this pairing idea strikes a chord with you and can pave the way for a nice evening with your special someone.
If you have other pairing ideas, please share them in the comments below so that we can literally share the love. Whichever pairing you choose, if you want the end of the night to wind up on page 47 of the Kama Sutra guide, do yourself a favor and remember these 2 things: stretch first and don’t forget the Barry White. Prost!