The history of Valentines Day is like the invention of beer, it’s hard to pinpoint when and where it started. The name Saint Valentine was the name given to several martyred saints of ancient Rome. We know very little about the Saint Valentine we celebrate for each year, other than that he was buried on February 14th. We can find him buried along the Via Flaminia, an ancient road leading to Rome from the North. Pope Gelasius I established this celebratory day in 496 AD, but I have a feeling we celebrate a bit differently then he had planned (proof). You may be wondering what this has to do with beer. Nothing. So let’s hop to it! If you are going to be eating some chocolaty sweets tonight, here are two of my favorite beers to help balance your palate, as well as your heart.
Dogfish Heads World Wide Stout (Limited, 18% ABV) If you’re enjoying milk chocolate, caramel, or anything sweet, your best bet is to pair it with a roasted malt beer. The contrast will encourage you to go back and forth between sips and bites. Since it’s creation, the World Wide Stout has fluctuated in ABV, going from 23% to 18%, but I don’t think anyone is complaining with an ABV of 18%, especially when it’s as smooth as this one. The aromas of coffee, sweet malt and raisins do a great job at letting you know what this brew is going to taste like. The taste is smooth with flavors of fruit, coffee, sweet malt and alcohol. The body is thinner than expected and finishes dry, with hints of plum. You could forget the chocolate with this one, because this is a fine dessert on it’s own.
Duvel Moortgat Brewery’s Maredsous 8 Brune (Year-round, 8% ABV) In 1963, Moortgat created the Maredsous line of beers, including the Blonde, the Brune (Brown) and the Triple. The brown ale is brewed in the style of an Abbey Dubbel under the supervision of the monastic community of Maredsous. This is the ideal beer to pair with a fruity/tangy chocolate, or even just fruit (if your like that). Maredsous 8 should be served between 42-47 degrees Fahrenheit in order to fully enjoy the flavors they worked so hard to create. Maredsous 8 has a complex aroma of rich dark fruit, toffee and brown sugar. A heavy to medium body with flavors of berries, bready yeast, pepper, spices and alcohol. A very smooth and drinkable dubbel that is hard to top (maybe because it's top fermented?). If you can only find it in an 11.2 oz bottle, get two, because your heart will ache for another.
When it comes to pairing your beers with any food, always consider whether or not you want to balance out the flavors or a compliment them. When aiming to balance, try a beer with flavor that is opposite to what you’re eating. For instance, if you’re eating something sweet, drink something that is dry or bitter (or vice versa). If you want your flavors to compliment one another, try a beer that is similar in flavor and body to what you are eating, like how a malty ginger beer would go great with a ginger spiced truffle, creating a potent mix of flavors that blend perfectly.
Whatever your blending may be, pick something that brings out the best in one another. Because that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about.