Cupid’s arrow is tearing through the calendar and February 14th is almost upon us. There are a lot of different camps when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Some lean all the way in, planning special dates with their partners and enthusiastically buying all the flowers and teddy bears that can possibly come in a shade of pink or red. Some think it’s a Hallmark-manufactured excuse for a holiday, and seek out alternative ways to celebrate. Some use it as a day to proudly proclaim their love of the single life. Some choose to spend it with best friends. Others, still, see it as a great excuse to have a photo shoot with their dog in different heart-splashed outfits.
Every single one of these approaches to Valentine’s Day can be made a million times better with one thing: craft beer. Well, two things, craft beer and chocolate. Chocolate is built into this holiday, after all; craft beer elevates the entire experience. Nothing says, “I love you” better than craft beer that makes your Valentine--whether that’s a significant other, a friend, or yourself--feel truly seen, and that you can enjoy together. A mix pack is not only a thoughtful gift that recognizes one of your Valentine’s favorite things, but it’s something that can make even a quarantined Valentine’s Day feel like a special occasion full of discovering new beers and embracing old favorites.
Our “Box of Chocolates” mix pack comes with an actual box of chocolates, because, duh. Do gifts get more delightfully decadent? We’d argue they do not. To make the most out of this mix-pack, here are some suggestions on perfect pairings between the beer and the candy. Consider these the It couples of Valentine’s Day 2021.
Hi-Wire Brewing German Chocolate Cupcake 10W-40 Imperial Stout & Chocolate-Covered Cherries or Strawberry Marshmallow
Hi-Wire’s German Chocolate Cupcake stout exemplifies a never-fail balance of sweet chocolate, vanilla, and coconut, cut by a touch of tart brightness from cherries. You could say it’s a pairing in and of itself. Of course, then you’d be denying yourself the treat of actually drinking this with candy.
This is a great time to remember some of the general guidelines of beer-and-food pairing. You want to think about flavors that compare and contrast. It also helps to strive to achieve classic flavor combos you might find in a favorite food, but between the beer and the food. For example, chocolate-covered cherries and chocolate-covered strawberries are iconic. You can recreate that flavor combo by pairing the German Chocolate Cupcake with a chocolate-covered cherry or one of those chocolate-covered strawberry marshmallows that often come in Valentine’s Day samplers. Between the candy and the beer, the flavors are perfectly in sync, plus they’re a playful reinvention of chocolate-covered berry goodness.
Big aLICe Brewing Co. Bodega Breakfast Stout & Chocolate-Covered Caramel
Here, we’re thinking about some different flavors that might contrast in a way where they play off each other and highlight each other, and where all fall under the same sort of flavor umbrella. Big aLICe’s Bodega Breakfast Stout is rich in notes of roasty coffee, plus sweet caramel and toffee. So, match that with chocolate-covered caramel. Aside from caramel obviously working well with caramel, its deep, dark sugary character enhances the roast of the coffee and, together, these notes create a different and more complex kind of sweetness. Chocolate just marries the two together even further with balanced bittersweetness.
KCBC Morbid Hour & White Chocolate
For this pairing, we’re thinking about how opposites attract. You might want to roll your eyes when you hear someone gushing about how they fit so perfectly with their partner because one is super outgoing and the other is low-key and introverted, but you have to admit, that can work out great and the concept works even greater with beer and candy--no eyerolls, only heart eyes.
KCBC’s Morbid Hour is a black pilsner, or shwarzbier, brewed with rad Brooklyn metal venue Saint Vitus for also-rad beer and metal documentary series Six Most Metal Breweries. It’s packed with badass heavy metal attitude, which, in terms of flavor, manifests as a crushable and easy-drinking kind of roastiness and bittersweet chocolate. Take all of that and play it against the sweetness of white chocolate. The roastiness and sweetness will cut each other, balance each other, and highlight each other--to which we say, rock on.
Moody Tongue Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel-Aged Gingerbread Imperial Stout & Molasses Chew or Chocolate-Covered Nuts
Moody Tongue’s beers are brewed with a culinary focus, meant to demonstrate beautiful food flavors and to pair harmoniously with different dishes and indulgences. The Bourbon Barrel-Aged Gingerbread Imperial Stout adds to the traditional chocolate, coffee, and roast notes of a stout with the deep spices of gingerbread and the oaky warmth of bourbon. The result is complex, sweet and spicy, with the bourbon barrel aging’s touch of alcohol warmth adding just the perfect foil to any richness.
Any candy involving chocolate and nuts, from chocolates stuffed with walnuts to peanut butter enrobed in chocolate, will fold into that complexity seamlessly, and spotlight different elements. The chocolates sync up and strengthen each other, while the nuttiness adds a touch of hearty depth to the gingerbread spices.
Moody Tongue Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel-Aged 12 Layer Cake Imperial Stout & Chocolate-Covered Coconut
On that note, the Bourbon Barrel-Aged 12 Layer Cake is yet another example of this culinary flair in Moody Tongue’s portfolio. It’s like the drinkable version of actual 12-layer cake Moody Tongue serves at its Chicago Tasting Room. All of that rich chocolate cake, toasted coconut, caramel, and graham cracker crust is packed into each bottle, warmed up by aging for 12 months in Kentucky Four Roses bourbon barrels.
It’s toasty, dark-sugary-sweet, and indulgent, yet surprisingly light and easy to drink. It’s a dream with chocolate-covered coconut, which will mirror this beer’s bittersweetness and bolster its hint of tropical, straightforward sweetness. This kind of candy matches the brew’s flavors and celebrates the lovely ingredients of Moody Tongue’s legendary cake.
18th Ward Brewing Russian Collusion Imperial Stout & Chocolate-Covered Chocolate
18th Ward’s Russian Collusion Imperial Stout is big, bold, and complex. In addition to its roastiness and sweet chocolate, it boasts dark, dried fruit flavors of raisin and apricot, plus a hint of floral character that makes these notes sing. To support and enhance these harmonious elements, go for chocolate on chocolate. This is the time to break out chocolate-covered fudge, chocolate-covered chocolate chew, or just solid chocolate. Depending on whether it’s dark or milk and what percentage cacao it is, this kind of candy will make the Russian Collusion’s sweetness sweeter, its bitterness more bitter, its roastiness roastier.
Bonus: The My Boozy Valentine Mix Pack
Hate chocolate? Allergic? No sweet tooth? Simply think the only thing better than beer is more beer? The My Boozy Valentine mix pack is the ultimate pairing: beer with beer! This 12-pack is a love letter to the variety and deliciousness of craft beer, and how fun it is to couple them up.This variety pack has two of each beer so you can make a whole date of it with your Valentine, whoever that might be (“yourself” definitely counts). It’s its own special occasion. You’ll get the velvety, fruity Kawaii NEIPA from Japas Cervejaria; the dank, hazy, tropical-fruity Deep Learning DIPA from Little Blind; the lush, fruity, piney, Love & Wrestling double dry-hopped New England DIPA from Mayflower Brewing Company; the sweet, tart, bright, raspberry-packed Lil’ Raspy Berliner Weisse from Sixpoint Brewery; the deep and dark dried-fruity Sugar Plum Fairy Winter Ale, brewed with plum puree, from Alphabet City Brewing Company; and the crisp, clean, refreshing, crushable Gay Beer golden lager.