How to perfectly pair your Valentine’s chocolates with beer
Valentine's Day is upon us, and whether you're attached or single you can enjoy the spirit of this holiday. Chocolate is the answer to most of life's happy or sad moments and, conveniently, so is beer! I know you've all heard of some high-brow wine and chocolate pairings, but you may not know that beer pairs even better with chocolate.
So if you're blissfully attached and looking to impress your man, or are happily single and looking to try something new, this is for you!
If you're new to craft beer and wonder what all the fuss is about, this is the perfect introduction!
To make this pairing easy I chose the most popular of all the heart-shaped chocolate filled boxes, Russell Stover's eight-piece collection. You can't get in too much trouble with eight pieces and you can find it just about anywhere.
So let's get started.
1. Strawberry nougat filled chocolate
Recommended pairing:Strawberry lambic. Lambics were first made in Belgium and are made with wild strains of yeast found in the region where they were created. They are slightly dry and finish just a tad sour.
Why I chose it: To intensify the strawberry flavor in the nougat and because it is not an overly sweet beer, the slight dry and tart nature will work in contrast to the sweetness of the candy.
Recommended brand: Lindemann's Framboise Strawberry Lambic
2. Chocolate ganache-filled chocolate
Recommended pairing: Coffee stout. Stouts are known for their dark color made with roasted malt. Dark in color, they can range from sweet to dry. This has coffee added to the mix to bring out those flavors.
Why I chose it: Stouts naturally have notes of cocoa or espresso. Espresso intensifies chocolate flavor, which is why it is usually added to brownies and chocolate cake. I chose a dry coffee stout since this candy is so sweet.
Recommended brand: Bell's Java Stout
3. Coconut-filled chocolate
Recommended pairing:Caramel porter. This is a porter with natural caramel flavor added. Porters are a dark beer made with caramel colored malt. It's dark in color with hints of caramel intertwined.
Why I chose it: One word... Samoas. The caramel hints in this along with the coconut and chocolate will make you taste this classic cookie flavor.
Recommended brand: Saranac Caramel Porter
4. Caramel-filled chocolate
Recommended pairing: Milk stout. Milk stouts are brewed with the un-fermentable sugar, lactose, found in milk. This gives it a sweetness and some creamy body.
Why I chose it: The creamy body of the milk stout will bring out the creaminess inherent to the caramel. A milk stout is sweeter, but subtly so. Texture is key on this pairing, so silky smooth. This may be my favorite!
Recommended brand: Left Hand Milk Stout
5. Raspberry cream-filled chocolate
Recommended pairing: Raspberry lambic. Same as described for #1, but obviously with raspberry flavor.
Why I chose it: To intensify the raspberry flavor already present. This beer is a little dry and tart, cutting down on the intense sweet of the cream.
Recommended brand: Lindemann's Framboise Raspberry Lambic
6. Nougat-filled chocolate
Recommended pairing: Chocolate peanut butter porter. A porter, darker in color, rich in malt flavor. This one is flavored with chocolate and peanut butter.
Why I chose it: This beer is awesome on its own. Chocolate and peanut butter in a malty beer is already heaven. I paired it with this chocolate since the nougat has a nutty flavor to it. This would intensify it to the max! This beer is also not too sweet. It's actually pretty dry, so that helps cut back on the sweetness.
Recommended brand: Du Claw Sweet Baby Jesus
7. Pecan praline-filled chocolate
Recommended pairing: Imperial stout, preferably with vanilla. Stouts, as noted, are dark; an imperial stout could also be called a double stout. It is made with double ingredients, leading to a much higher alcohol content and a nice sweet flavor from all the sugars in the alcohol. Sometimes people get all fancy and brew them with vanilla... score!
Why I chose it: While this chocolate and this beer are both sweet, it is a different kind of sweet. Plus the sweetness of an imperial stout is the perfect vehicle for vanilla. This, combined with the pecan praline, and it's like you bit into a slice of chocolate pecan pie, that is a very good thing!
Recommended brand: Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout
8.Vanilla cream-filled chocolate
Recommended pairing: Dry Irish stout, as mentioned in #2.
Why I chose it: The chocolate flavor already present in the stout will intensify the chocolate flavor, but its dryness will cut back on the way-too-sweet vanilla cream.
Recommended brand: Guinness Extra Stout
Happy Valentine's Day; celebrate it craft beer style!
Pro tip: Just like a fine wine, you will want to take some time to swirl your beer before you smell it. This will kick up the carbonation and release more of the aroma. Smelling it allows you to taste it better. But after a few you won't care anymore and that's OK... this is just some fancy information you can impress your friends with.
Bonus pro tip: Whether single or attached, this is a fun activity for Valentine's Day. Invite your other single ladies over and let the good times roll! For those with a loved one, light some candles and get romantic with it!