Valentine’s Day is often associated with indulgences in food, wine and chocolates or other desserts.
If you’re looking to change things up a little this year, there are some beer options that can make your evening just a little more special. If I may humbly offer a few suggestions:
Before Or With Dinner
If you’re starting with finger foods or a cheese/charcuterie plate (wherever might you acquire one of those, I wonder?), a clean, snappy Pils or other lighter Lager can simultaneously accentuate flavors while staying out of their way. My old standby Veltins Pilsener does this well, as do Hardywood’s Pils, Port City’s Downright Pilsner and the new Bruery Ruekeller: Helles.
Helles is a great way to go for something with a tick more flavor that you can also take to the table. Consider The Bruery’s version along with Rocket Frog’s Hellenor.
English-style Ales offer a great mix of sweet notes from both their malts and yeasts, along with easy-going lower ABVs and balanced mouth feels thanks to judicious hop usage that rarely crossed over into bitter or overpowering. We’re lucky to have a couple good local options available in the Denizens Lowest Lord ESB and the recently arrived Fast Mail from Danville’s Ballad Brewing, a lovely interpretation of an English Mild clocking in at 4.2% ABV.
For the more adventurous, a nice Belgian or Belgian-style beer always works. Denizens comes through again here with Third Party Tripel, but it’s hard to stay away from Trappist classics like Westmalle Tripel, Rochefort 8 and Orval. It’s a bit esoteric, but De Proef’s Saison Imperiale is a unique, maltier take on the style that is complex and gorgeous on its own but would play well with earthier entrees.
Staying with the Belgians, Rodenbach’s Felmish Sours play beautifully off of chocolates and fruits. The Rodenbach Classic runs more tart than sour, with hints of cherry, while Alexander actually sees the addition of sour cherry juice. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with Rodenbach.
If you’re veering toward a truly indulgent end to the meal, consider a lush Imperial Stout: Toasted Almond from Back Bay’s Farmhouse Brewing Company in Virginia Beach is a cocktail-inspired, Bourbon barrel-aged monster made with lactose (pair with/on ice cream?), whole coffee beans and yes, toasted almonds.
It’s not cheap and hard to find — apparently only two cases came up to NoVA; guess who got one? — but if you’re going all-out, go all out, right? Also consider: Sierra Nevada’s Barrel-Aged Narwhal (recently released in 16oz cans and apparently as a year-round beer), Port City Porter, or Hardywood’s seasonal Baltic Sunrise, a lovely Baltic Porter on coffee.