Beer

Valentine’s Day chocolate beer taste-off

Best Chocolate Beer for Valentine's Day

Idaho Statesman Entertainment Editor Michael Deeds selects the best chocolate beer for Valentine's Day during a tasting with Maggie Lake, co-owner of Cloud 9 Brewery and Kristen Hassemer, craft beer specialist for Whole Foods in Boise, Idaho.
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Idaho Statesman Entertainment Editor Michael Deeds selects the best chocolate beer for Valentine's Day during a tasting with Maggie Lake, co-owner of Cloud 9 Brewery and Kristen Hassemer, craft beer specialist for Whole Foods in Boise, Idaho.

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

A veteran of the chocolate stout genre, this widely available British brew is sold in bottles, but also in nitro cans, which is what we had. 5.2 percent ABV. $2.99/14.9-ounce can.

Can design

Lake: Purple and gold. It feels Valentines-y. It’s a little fancy.

Chocolate factor

Deeds: Rich, creamy, Guinness-y. Luxurious mouth feel. I’ve seen this compared to Hershey’s syrup with milk. I get that.

Lake: Looks like a little cappuccino. It’s a classic sweet stout, but it’s got that dry chocolate finish.

Hassemer: Smells like a chocolate donut!

Food pairing

Lake: Beerunch time! This brew’s relative lightness and mild, coffee-like bitterness beg for salty bacon or a ham and cheese croissant. Why not start your Valentine’s Day morning with a beer?

Overall grade: B+

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Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout

Another beer from England, this one contains “gently roasted organic chocolate malt and real organic cocoa.” 5 percent ABV. $4.99/18.7-ounce bottle.

Bottle design

Hassemer: It’s romantic looking.

Deeds: Regal.

Chocolate factor

Deeds: Wow. Is there such a thing as chocolate cola? Sooo sweet. And thin — not what I would think of as a stout.

Lake: Subtle cocoa flavor. Dessert in a glass.

Hassemer: Non-beer drinkers might enjoy it.

Food pairing

Lake: Coffee ice cream to cut the sweetness of this beer.

Overall grade: B-

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Caldera Toasted Coconut Chocolate Porter

Hand-roasted organic coconut and natural chocolate are used to brew this Oregon beer. 6.2 percent ABV. $5.99/22-ounce bottle.

Bottle design

Hassemer: Romance on the beach!

Lake: It looks like somewhere I want to be in February.

Chocolate factor

Lake: I thought it would be really sweet and coconut-y, like suntan lotion, but it isn’t.

Deeds: It’s an enjoyable porter, but this doesn’t satisfy my Valentine’s Day craving for chocolate or coconut. Give me Maui Brewing’s Coconut Porter.

Food pairing

Lake: Try coconut curry to boost the coconut flavor in the beer. Or molten chocolate cake to increase the decadence factor.

Overall grade: C+

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Heretic Chocolate Hazelnut Porter

Filbert time. This California brew adds a distinct, nutty quality to the chocolate beer genre. 7 percent ABV. $6.99/22-ounce bottle.

Bottle design

Lake: It’s a little Gothic.

Deeds: Valentine’s Day in Transylvania.

Chocolate factor

Deeds: The chocolate hit is more roasty than chocolatey, but I like it. The nut dimension makes this interesting.

Lake: The chocolate’s pretty smooth. But the bitterness of hazelnut in the finish gives it a bite.

Food pairing

Lake: An aged gouda. It would bring out the nuttiness and some of that roasty flavor in the beer. Or dark chocolate, maybe even with a little sea salt.

Overall grade: B+

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Rogue Double Chocolate Stout

This is the supercharged version of Rogue’s solid Chocolate Stout, which is flavored with Dutch bittersweet chocolate. The Double comes in a red, Valentine’s Day-friendly bottle. 9 percent ABV. $11.99/25-ounce bottle.

Bottle design

Hassemer: Love it. It’s simple, but it looks different than most bottles on the shelf.

Lake: It’s sexy. It’s red. It’s sleek.

Chocolate factor

Deeds: Lordy. That aroma. CHOCOLATE. Excellent.

Hassemer: If I drank this, I’m done! Definitely one I’d like to share.

Lake: That’s why it’s Valentine’s Day! Rogue always does things with lots of hops. It’s got a rich chocolate essence, then a hop bitterness that balances the chocolate.

Food pairing

Lake: A rib-eye steak with rich demi-glace. The intensity of this chocolate bomb needs to be matched with something robust.

Overall grade: A

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Odell Lugene Milk Chocolate Stout

Brewed with milk sugar and milk chocolate, this beer was named after Lugene, a Colorado farmer who feeds spent grain from Odell Brewing Co. to his dairy cows. 8.5 percent ABV. $10.99/four pack of 12-ounce bottles.

Bottle design

Hassemer: The picture on the label says, “You are a cow, and you love chocolate.”

Deeds: Might get you slapped on Valentine’s Day. Totally worth it, though.

Chocolate factor

Lake: It’s a luxurious, smooth chocolate. Like a chocolate truffle.

Hassemer: Yet it still tastes like beer.

Deeds: Fan-freaking-tastic. Like a milk chocolate bar beer. I barely detect the 8.5 percent alcohol. On nitro, it would be like tipsy chocolate milk.

Food pairing

Lake: Chocolate chip bread pudding for a hint of chocolate and creamy, custard texture.

Overall grade: A+

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Southern Tier Choklat

Only recently distributed in Southern Idaho, New York-based Southern Tier is known for decadent brews. (Creme Brulee Stout, anyone?) Unsurprisingly, Choklat is not subtle. 10 percent ABV. $8.49/22-ounce bottle.

Bottle design

Lake: It feels romantic — like black tie. And the chocolate looks like fancy Belgian chocolate; I want to eat that.

Chocolate factor

Deeds: Wowsers. Full-court chocolate press. But the sweetness in the taste is brief, then boom — alcohol or chocolate bitterness.

Lake: Definitely full-bodied. It’s got a highly intense alcohol presence. It’s complex. The nose is almost a little vanilla, a little chocolate.

Food pairing

Lake: Angel food cake with raspberries would play nicely. Or what about something salty, like oysters? That could pay off.

Overall grade: B

Michael Deeds: 208-377-6407, @michaeldeeds

The Chocoholics

Michael Deeds, beer writer, Idaho Statesman

Kristen Hassemer, beer specialist, Whole Foods, Boise

Maggie Lake, co-owner and kitchen overlord, Cloud 9 Brewery, 1750 W. State St., Boise

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