Beer & chocolate

Market forces beyond my control have dictated that it’s nearly Valentine’s Day. When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of Nickelback. No one openly admits to enjoying either, but somehow they’re both incredibly popular. That being said, as a single person, I still prefer Valentine’s Day. Why? Because of chocolate and beer, of course!

In your typical heteronormative, monogamous relationship, American Valentine’s Day tradition dictates men buy flowers and chocolate for women. Sometimes stuffed animals are involved, and oftentimes there are special dinner dates. In Japan, however, the gender roles are reversed, and the holiday typically involves beer. In fact, many years ago, Portland’s own Laurelwood Brewing sent a “Beer Nut Brown Ale” to Japan for this exact reason. I fail to see why we can’t have our own tasty traditions here in Beer City, USA.

Given the prevalence of roasted chocolate malts in stouts, porters, CDAs, and other dark styles, it is no surprise that beer and chocolate can be paired together. Granted, chocolate malt does not contain any chocolate (I’d even say that, on its own, it tastes more like coffee). However, the bold richness it provides in a beer, in conjunction with other specialty malts, lends itself to additions of cacao nibs, coffee, and lactose. But I’m not just talking about the flavors brewers can add to beer. I’m fully endorsing you eating that Valentine’s Day chocolate while you drink beer, be it by yourself or with your beloved. If you’re single, call it self-care, or whatever. You’re allowed to buy chocolate and beer for yourself. You’re an adult, or at least you should be if you’re reading this. I swear to god I’m not just trying to convince myself here.

You might be more surprised to learn that chocolate pairs well with more than just dark beers, especially darker chocolate. The almost fruit-like flavor of darker chocolate mingles quite well with the vibrance of hops and the nuttiness of malt. The complexity and richness of a good dark chocolate is only enhanced by a well-balanced lighter beer. Pilsners, pale ales, and IPAs are not to be forgotten while enjoying some craft chocolate made with the same kind of passion. Seriously, don’t forget the lighter beer. It’s okay if you forget to text me back. That’s fine. We’re all busy. I’m not entitled to your attention. But don’t forget the lighter beer. Give it a chance, at least.

Even if you are painfully single and don’t want to do this alone, you can round up your friends or colleagues and visit Ranger Chocolate on a BREWVANA Create Your Own Dream Tour. After a BREWVANA tour guide shows you all about how beer is made, an expert chocolate maker will teach you about the making of chocolate, and guide you through the process of pairing the two. Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you have to be alone and without chocolate. And if you are happily coupled, congratulations, you’re more than welcome to join us as well.

Check out our friend Kara at Chocolate Pursuit Tours in Portland for chocolate tasting adventures.

Happy Valentine’s Day!