What does everyone love on Valentine’s day (or any day of the year, for that matter)?
Chocolate, of course! The ancient delicacy is desired by people across the world, regardless of culture, age and gender. If you don’t thoroughly enjoy chocolate, then you could be suffering a severe medical condition or simply lack a soul. Unfortunate but mostly true.
Combine cocoa derived treats with another high-ranking indulgence – craft beer – and you have one of the most delicious beverages known to man. Below are five of the tastiest chocolate beers to consider this Valentine’s Day, each accompanied by a food pairing and rundown of the bottle’s design appeal (because we may not always acknowledge it, but looks do matter – especially on Valentine’s Day).
Rogue’s Double Chocolate Stout
Powerful, creamy, dark chocolately malt saturation. This brew is a World Beer Championship gold medal winner for good reason. Rogue’s extra-chocolate specialty is a real gem, instantly recognizable in one deep whiff as you’re pouring this pitch black beauty. It’s a hearty roasted cocoa scent with hints of malt and vanilla. The dense, silky head of this beer is evidence of the taste and texture below: a rich, bittersweet dark chocolate in the forefront with bitey bits of oak and grain.
Label appeal: Double Chocolate’s bottle is big and bold. We don’t often see such vivid labels in the craft beer industry, but several brands have done it well in the past (such as Dogfish Head and Flying Dog). The bright, glossy, red painted bottle is an ideal vessel for such a promising product, and it certainly sucks you in from halfway across the store (as it did to me). The dichromatic cog design used for Rogue’s series of “double” concoctions is super-sized just above the perpendicularly aligned brewer’s mark. It’s a simple but attractive layout that’s the perfect finishing touch to this great beer.
Perfect pairing: This one would be fantastic alongside a chocolate cheesecake. Several tasting evaluations recommended actual cheese as a sidekick, but why not get the best of both worlds with a rich and creamy cheesecake? It’s a match made in heaven.
Southern Tier’s Choklat Imperial Chocolate Stout
Smooth, sweet, milky chocolate purity. Choklat is a purist’s dream come true as many have described it as chocolate milk in a beer. The pungent loads of cocoa are backed by tiny vanilla hints and a slightly alcoholic finish (after all, this beer is 10% ABV). Some may consider the chocolate content overwhelming, but many (myself included) will likely find the strong taste intriguing.
Label appeal: Southern Tier’s beer labels are always awesome. They’ve done it again with this imperial wonder, using a large, distinctive cartooned graphic to underline the product title. The black and beige chocolate squares are unmistakable and speak volumes about the beer’s actual taste. It’s all accompanied by subtle aesthetic niceties that give great character to the label and really make it pop.
Perfect pairing: I can see nothing better than solid chocolate to pair with this beer. A fancy chocolate bar, perhaps. A rich fudge or chocolate candy would do the job as well. You’ll need to take your significant other to burn some calories following this dessert.
Dogfish Head’s Theobroma
Spicy, subtle, eccentric flavor amalgam. Theobroma isn’t a conventional chocolate beer by any means. It is, however, derived from the earliest known chocolate beer ever created by mankind. This brew is definitely for the more adventurous tasters that its mead-like aroma can attest to. It’s far lighter in both color and body than other chocolate style beers, but retains the creamy mouth feel that we’re used to with carbonation to boot. The eclectic mix of tastes includes honey, mild chilis, a twanging of cocoa and some fruity notes.
Label appeal: The half-naked Aztec woman pictured certainly gives homage to the brew’s raw, ancient roots. Otherwise the intricate, decorative background patterns bring added intrigue to the label’s looks. Additionally, the signature Dogfish Head script lines the top as a token of quality that any craft beer enthusiast can recognize at first glance.
Perfect pairing: Savory Chocolate Chili looks to be a worthy candidate for inclusion with the Theobroma. The unsweetened chocolate, cinnamon and orange zest present in this dish are bound to bring out many of the great flavors in the beer. Not to mention that the inherent heat of a chili will be a fantastic match with the spicy undertones Theobroma possesses.
Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout
Intense, robust, roasty abyss of brew. The Black Chocolate Stout is not for the faint of heart. It’s a full-bodied broth that you couldn’t peer through if you wanted to, and when it hits your mouth you’ll know why. The chocolate itself isn’t a traditionally sweet flavor, but its lactic quality plays an important role with the surprisingly strong hops and deep coffee traces in this beer.
Label appeal: Brooklyn Brewery starts with a creative advantage as its labels and packages are handled by legendary designer Milton Glaser. Needless to say he had a hand in this beer’s labeling as well, but this time deviated from the brewery’s iconic circular logo design. The stout is instead presented with an elegant, glistening gold type and supplemental polka dot patterns. The resulting motif makes for a classy label that sets this unique beer apart from Brooklyn’s more conventional varieties.
Perfect pairing: Dark chocolate espresso cake would be a pretty ideal partner. The dense, dark flavors between these two treats would match remarkably well together.
Tröegs/Stone Cherry Chocolate Stout
Silky, charred, fruity goodness. Cracking this bottle yields a fresh, tart cherry odor with noticeable cocoa and toasted malt fragrances. The poured head of this beer is a frothy cappuccino tone with a red tinge. The taste itself is a milky, vivacious mouthful of sweetness somewhere between milk and dark chocolate. Dark cherries are certainly apparent, along with smoky nut suggestions, hints of vanilla and a semi-woody aftertaste. This collaboration between brewers Jason Fields & Kevin Sheppard is a rare intermingling of chocolate and fruit and an instant success.
Label appeal: Another resplendent exhibit of bottling prowess right here. The slick execution of this beer’s exterior aesthetic gives it the undeniable credit it deserves. Each brewer’s logo is embossed in a classy gold finish just above the title, reminiscent of touted festival awards seen elsewhere. The large script itself is clean and refined: another implication of the contents’ quality.
Perfect pairing: Black forest cake is a bull’s-eye with this brew. Cherries and chocolate on cherries and chocolate is the best way I can think to attain optimum enjoyment in this scenario.
There’s a diverse range of chocolate beers across the board, and if you’ve never tried them in the past then there’s no better time to start. So a word of advice to those of you who skimped on the Valentine’s Day reservations; pick up one of these pairings and spend a romantic, delicious night in with your loved one. Just beware the chocolate cake hangover… they’re the worst.