Valentine’s Day conjures up visions of classic couplings: Romeo and Juliet, John and Yoko, sweet fruit and chocolate. Combine those latter two with some beer, and you have a three-way that will warm the cockles of the most demure drinker. In preparation for the Hallmark holiday, Peaks and Pints presents a beer flight with that share the flavors of the usual Valentine’s day gift: chocolate covered fruit. Indeed. While the bitterness of an especially hoppy beer might not be ideally suited (unless, of course, you were recently dumped – when bitterness might be appropriate), there are a number of offerings that blend well with the day, offering explosive tastes of chocolate and/or sweet fruit. Peaks and Pints found it in our hearts to gather up a few beers that would be appropriate for Valentine’s Day. Of course, Heart Day is tomorrow. Therefore, we present Craft Beer Crosscut 2.13.18: A Flight of Valentine’s Prefunk.
7.3% ABV, 20 IBU
Dec. 31, 2011, Track 7 Brewing Co. opened for business in Sacramento, California. It grew from 340 barrels of beer in its opening year to just under 1,200 barrels in 2013. That’s not surprising since 1,000 people showed up to the brewery’s opening day – causing a line out the door for three hours. Track 7’s messed with its Burnt Fog Smoked Porter recipe, dropping the smoked malt and adding peanut butter, chocolate and lactose sugar. The combination produced a creamy peanut butter cup of a beer fitting for Valentine’s Days.
2.5% ABV, 12 IBU
Indigenous to the Senne Valley of Belgium, lambics stem from a farmhouse brewing tradition several hundred years old. These brews are spontaneously fermented — meaning pots containing the wort are left outside and uncovered, allowing whatever critters happen to be flying by on a passing breeze to ferment the beer. These wild yeast give lambics their distinct tartness. Most Belgian brewers also utilize aged hops, which add antibacterial properties to the beer, rather than bitterness or flavor. In the case of fruit lambics, whole fruits are traditionally added after halfway through fermentation to add sweetness and new dimensions of flavor. Lindemans Framboise is quintessential lambic. It’s the one people tend to know about — and with good reason. It’s delicious. There is a sugary sweet here that overpowers the inherit sourness of a good lambic. Sounds like a bad thing, right? Put it in your mouth and see if you feel the same way.
5% ABV, 28 IBU
Samuel Smith’s has always brewed the old-fashioned way and the British operation still pulls water from its original well dug in 1758. Its Organic Chocolate Stout pours dark brown with a thin, khaki head. Light oatmeal and bready aromas lift to the nose, reminiscent of rising dough. On the tongue, this brew’s complex and, with its oatmeal character, has a decidedly cookie quality to it: It’s silky-smooth across the tongue, but also deep and grainy in the flavor. It’s velvety and delicious, with creamy chocolate milk, chocolate syrup and cocoa powder dancing on the tongue. The brew sinks into the mouth and finishes sweet and full.
Lambics are sharp, acidic, and fruity. They can be compared to yogurt or vinegar but with hints of sweetness. There are also several sub-styles of lambics. Lindemans has been brewing lambic since 1811. They were the first to introduce lambics to the American market (in 1979) and have remained the most popular brand. While they also make a peach, raspberry and pear lambic, the cherry is their most traditional flavor. Whole fresh cherries are added to the casks, triggering a third fermentation and promoting a spritz-y carbonation that gives the finished beer a champagne-like character with excellent mouthfeel. The flavor is akin to a natural black cherry soda, having a dark sweetness with only a flash of malty bitterness.
8.9% ABV, 38 IBU
10 Barrel Brewing Co. brewed the perfect Valentine’s Day treat — a big, chocolaty, decadent beer with cocoa powder and organic fair trade cocoa nibs. The nose is rich milk chocolate sweetness with roast malts and vanilla. Taste is more of a fine dark chocolate dessert with medium roast, light milky flavors and cocoa. Did we mention chocolate?
BONUS: Peaks and Pints suggests pairing Lindeman’s Framboise raspberry-flavored lambic with Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout. Try putting two or three ounces of Framboise in a pint glass, then topping it off with the stout. The deep notes of roast malt and chocolate marry beautifully with profound, aromatic raspberry.