Wine is fine for your Valentine's Day celebration, but it's oh, so expected.
For a more effervescent experience, try beer instead — especially for pairing with chocolate treats.
Beer and chocolate pairings might seem counterintuitive, but beer's carbonation complements chocolate's creaminess and texture in wonderful ways, much as it does with cheese.
Beer, like chocolate, is a fermented food that can span a wide variety of flavors. A good pairing strategy is to pick out complementary flavors in both the chocolate and the beer and match them up. Sweet malt-forward beers with milk chocolate, for example, or a more bitter, hoppy beer with dark chocolate.
Darker, richer beers such as stouts and porters are an obvious choice for pairing with chocolate, but barleywines and strong Belgian ales also work well. Just go big — it takes a beer with a big body and a higher alcohol content to stand up to chocolate's high fat content and intense flavors.
You can also enjoy chocolate in your beer. Several local breweries make some excellent chocolate beers
Twisted Pine Brewing Co.'s Razzy Xpress, for example, a seasonal release, is a big stout with flavors of raspberry, espresso and chocolate truffles. Boulder Brewing Co.'s Shake Chocolate Porter features rich flavors of chocolate, coffee and caramel. And Friday is the day that Mountain Sun Brewpubs release their Cherry Chocolate Stout, an annual Stout Month favorite.
Either way, you'll be feeling the love when chocolate meets beer.
Crooked Stave, Upslope collaborate
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, the Denver-based brewery known for its inventive wild and sour ales, and Boulder-based Upslope Brewing Co. will release a collaborative beer project next week. Wild Belgian Pale Ale, the first installment in Crooked Stave's Ferus Fluxus series, starts with a batch of Upslope's Belgian-Style Pale Ale that has been inoculated with strains of Brettanomyces, or wild yeast, and Lactobacillus and aged in first-use red wine barrels.
"The opportunity to collaborate with our friends at Crooked Stave was one we couldn't pass up," Upslope head brewer Alex Violette said in a release. "We all agreed that our Belgian would be perfect for this project. It highlights the tropical fruit notes from the Brettanomyces while maintaining a subtle oak character from the barrels."
Crooked Stave has scheduled a bottle-release party beginning at 6 p.m. Monday in its taproom at The Source in Denver, with 375-militer bottles of the beer selling for $10 each (limit four). Upslope will host a release party at 6 p.m. Tuesday at its Lee Hill tap room in Boulder, with 19.2-ounce cans of the beer selling for $14 each. There's a three-can limit.
Contact Tom Wilmes at firstname.lastname@example.org.