What is romance to a beer lover? A heart-shaped coaster? An antiqued beer bottle with a single rose? Diamond-encrusted bottle opener? Or perhaps a moonlit stagger across South Beach, looking tenderly into those four, spinning sets of eyes right before you yack all over the ebbing tide.
Whichever you choose, Valentine’s Day is a time for lovers – of craft beer, of course. Instead of flowers and candy, here are some beer picks to add to your brew bouquet, straight from Cupid himself:
Terrapin, Moo Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout
True to its name, this dark, malty stout has strong first notes of sweet milk and milk chocolate. It’s got a medium body and a very creamy, roasted, lactose-fused taste throughout.
Quite solid, and when tasted back to back with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, it’s a clear winner by most chocoholic standards; if only cause it makes Young’s seem like a watered down, failed vanilla coke experiment by comparison.
Great for: "The home-brewed homebody" who wants to stay in with a movie this year as this beer is available at most large retailers that carry specialty beer (Total Wine, Whole Foods, Sunset Corners).
*Abbey Brewing Company, Brother Dan’s Double
Ideal if you like your beers (and kisses) starting off with a bite, this warming (10% abv) and dark brew has smooth melted chocolate notes with a lingering coffee taste. The sweetness definitely incorporates a ripe fruit ending as opposed to tasting roasted as many other chocolaty beers do.
Great for: "The Lincoln Road Warrior" who doesn't mind a little monastic atmosphere via I-395 to reach the Abbey's brew pub, adjacent to Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.
*4th Age Brewing, ¿Flan?
This dark, syrupy concoction had a sweet, flambéed caramel taste. Its lack of effervescence made it a tad overwhelming, but just like abuelita’s inability to remember if she added the sugar already, it tastes like home.
No wonder it was voted as “most ‘ohh’riginal” at the Miami Beach Brews Fest, as in, “ohh, that’s why I don’t like sweet beers,” (the group’s Balrog Sneeze – just as sweet, but more complex and greater coffee notes, was preferable) but as believer in beerocracy, I acquiesce.
Great for: "The craft hunter" who likes to try new, uniquely local brews and may have to wait and hunt the next local beer event to find it. Start looking for tickets and hit subscribe!
*Schnebly's Brewing Company, Gator Tail Ale
Don’t be fooled! You may want to blame your pastelito breath, but this brew actually smells and ends with a taste of guava. Perhaps there were notes of coffee and chocolate in this brown ale, but they were secondary to this velvety yet not-too-heavy feel. Another impressive addition to Miami’s growing craft beer scene.
Great for: "The rural beer-uror" who would enjoy a scenic day trip down to the Redlands for a tasting and tour of the Southernmost brewery and winery (also available at selected locations).
(* Indicates a locally brewed operation. Support your locals! Subscribe for updates on Miami's upcoming beer events!)
If you plan ahead next year you can get your sweetie a ticket to one of the fine festivals where these brews were sampled, Fairchild's Annual International Chocolate Festival (late Jan.) and the Miami Beach Brews Fest (early Feb.).
Gold Coast Beverage Distributors and Whole Foods teamed up to present a beer garden tasting portion of the already super-sized chocolate vending and educational event that occurs in the beautiful Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
In addition to serving the Gator Tail and Moo Hoo, the team was also pouring Sierra Nevada's Ovila Dubbel; a limited release that mimics a traditional Belgian Dubbel style with a feel of salted caramel with just a hint of chocolate.
The Miami Beach Brews Fest, another welcomed add on to the number of growing beer fests in the area, was a great success for both attendees and local brewers, many of whom ran out of their batches at an alarming rate for anyone attempting to sample every brew.
Other notables beyond the popular, "¿Flan?" and Brother Dan's included the soda-cracker-tastic Misfit Homebrewers' Summer Heat Wheat, and a duo of cortadito doppelgangers, Misfit's Black Ryeder and Moron Brothers' Foxxy Brown.
Subscribe for news and reviews on the next event to show off your hoppy honeys and malty mamas. Happy Valentine's Day!