Chocolate is the consumable most commonly associated with Valentine’s Day, but many may not be aware that certain craft brews – especially those with chocolatey undertones – make the perfect treat for beer lovers. Of course, the addition of certain fruits and other flavors (like cherry, vanilla and even the spiciness of jalapeno) also brings out a bit of passion as well. As you head out with your sweetheart this year for Valentine’s Day, consider ordering up a pint of one of these deliciously romantic Michigan made craft beers.
ARBOR BREWING, ANN ARBOR www.arborbrewing.com Espresso Love Breakfast Stout is made with cold-brewed locally roasted coffee and oatmeal for a smooth and creamy texture and rich coffee and chocolate flavor without the coffee bitterness. Also look for Milestone Cask Porter – a rich, dark, complex, full-bodied porter with hints of dark chocolate, raisins, black licorice, and currants on the palate, and a smoky, sour finish. Bollywood Blonde – a gorgeous copper-orange ale with a rich, enticing aroma of oranges and lemongrass. Crisp and refreshing on the palate. A perfect blend of malt, spice, and sweet and zesty hints of citrus.
ARCADIA ALES, BATTLE CREEK www.arcadiaales.com The award-winning Cocoa Loco Triple Chocolate Stout gets its rich flavor from Simpson Chocolate, Weyerman Chocolate and Crisp Chocolate malts. The addition of lactose lends the beer a creamy quality- not unlike a milkshake- while the Blackstrap Molasses adds rich, burnt, syrupy flavors. Flavors of baker’s chocolate and espresso dominate, while rich malty flavors and a subtle kiss of hops add nice balance, making this a truly one-of-a-kind BIG beer. If things aren’t going right on Valentine’s Day reach for a Cheap Date Session Ale – not only will you find a tropical citrus hop flavor with a soft malty body but your purchase will benefit the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail.
ATWATER BREWERY, GRAND RAPIDS www.atwaterbeer.com Vanilla Java Porter is the featured beer for Valentine’s Day. Vanilla and coffee with chocolate malt is sure to please during anyone’s Valentine’s dinner. Combine this with the sweet taste of a Michigan Cherry salad and the night is almost complete! Holding true to the Northern English tradition, the Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale at its foundation has a nutty profile with a round mouth feel. Added is a Chocolate Extract consisting of three blended chocolates of varied depth.
BELL’S BREWERY, KALAMAZOO www.bellsbeer.com Features two appropriate brews fit for Valentine’s Day. Two Hearted Ale is a 100% Centennial hop IPA, grapefruit & pine aromas, solid malt balance. Bursting with hop aromas ranging from pine resins to grapefruit notes, Two Hearted Ale remains one of the defining American-style India Pale Ales. The Cherry Stout is rich and smooth, matching malty dark chocolate flavors with the tartness of 100% Montmorency cherries grown in Michigan’s Traverse City region.
BREWERY VIVANT, GRAND RAPIDS www.breweryvivant.com Celebrated as the first LEED certified commercial micro brewery in the world, Brewery Vivant is housed in a refurbished historic funeral home. The pub harkens back to an old world monastery where monks brewed Belgian beer. The Undertaker is a Belgian style dark ale with notes of roasted malt and Belgian yeast. A menagerie on the palate: dark chocolate, coffee-like notes from roasted malts, and a mild character of dark cherries. The lingering finish hints of molasses and roastiness. If you dare you should taste the Tart Side of the Moon, Tart Imperial Stout – huge flavors of tart cherry and chocolate. Embrace the oddity.
FOUNDERS BREWING COMPANY, GRAND RAPIDS www.foundersbrewing.com
Founders Porter – “Dark, Rich and Sexy” pours silk black with a creamy tan head. The nose is sweet with a strong chocolate and caramel malt presence. No absence of hops gives this beer the full flavor you deserve and expect…it’s cozy like velvet. It’s a lover, not a fighter. Won a silver medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup. Some like it “hot” on Valentine’s Day so reach for their Red Hot Cinnamon IPA if you want to kick it up – an Imperial Red IPA brewed and dry hopped with Delta hops. Bitterness and aroma are moderately hoppy and complimented by the addition of cinnamon sticks that were steeped after the boil. Rich, malty body holds the balance together.
KUHNHENN BREWING COMPANY, WARREN www.kbrewery.com Coffee. Chocolate. Caramel. Vanilla. You’re used to seeing a lot of these terms when describing stouts. These are not just descriptors; they are ingredients. “Java,” as we call it, has become a crowd favorite by perfectly balancing the sweet and the roast, thanks to the use of Creme Brule coffee. The aroma and flavor are a coffee, chocolate or dessert-lover’s dream in a glass – Imperial Creme Brule Java Stout. If reserve is what you are craving then ask to have a pint of Imperial Michigan Mud – brewed to be even bigger and bolder than their standard Michigan Mud, this imperial milk stout is brewed with Michigan malt and hops, along with Madagascar vanilla beans and dark cocoa nibs. Think flourless chocolate rum cake, with flavors of vanilla pudding and rich, spiked hot cocoa. A slight alcoholic heat reminds you of the sheer size of this beer, while the complexities of flavor carry through to the long, lingering finish.
RIGHT BRAIN BREWERY, TRAVERSE CITY www.rightbrainbrewery.com A porter with pig parts? Yep! Mangalista Pig Porter – the beer that put Right Brain on the map. A rich and chocolatey porter brewed with real smoked pig heads and bones. Very toothsome, and showcasing a flavor experience similar to taking a soft pretzel, wrapping it in ham, and dipping it chocolate. 2011 Gold Medal Winner for Best Experimental Beer at the Great American Beer Festival. Not so adventurous but a little bit awnry? Naughty Girl Stout – a deep and chocolaty stout with a cooling minty finish. Commonly hailed to as “thin mints in a glass.” Made with locally grown biodynamic Mint.
NEW HOLLAND BREWING COMPANY, HOLLAND www.newhollandbrew.com The Poet is a romantic offering for Valentine’s Day. This beer reveals a rich, smooth malt character enveloped in tones of roast and chocolate. A soft mouth-feel brings luxurious flavors and soothing aroma. The Poet is as versatile as it is delicious – the perfect accent to any chocolate dessert. Want to go Reserved with your sweetheart? A must try if you are looking for a more chocolate flavor aged in oak barrels – Dragon’s Milk Reserve. Aged with coffee & chocolate. Rich, indulgent chocolate flavors are seductively punctuated with dark and roasty bitterness.
SHORTS BREWING COMPANY, BELLAIRE www.shortsbrewing.com Warm up by the fire with a bottle of S’more Stout. Brewed to mimic the flavor profile of the iconic campsite dessert – a complex stout brewed with graham cracker, milk chocolate, marshmallow, and smoked malt. The rich hearty sensations each take their turn, starting with the subtle graham aromas, and leading pleasantly into the sweet flavors of marshmallow cream and milk chocolate. All of these flavors are followed by a slight lingering flavor of smoke. A flaming marshmallow garnish is strongly encouraged. Feeling a little more romantic? Choose their Chocolate Covered Strawberry Brown Porter brewed with chocolate malt, strawberries, and lactose. Rich mahogany in color, Chocolate Covered Strawberry has a white head that clings to the glass. With aromas and flavors of strawberry and chocolate, this beer does its name justice. Full-bodied and creamy, this Porter is well balanced with a dry finish.
For more information, including a list of Michigan microbreweries, log on to www.michiganbrewersguild.org.