Exes and Ohs

Posted by on Feb 12, 2014

And so we come up on one of the silliest holidays of the year: Valentine’s Day. The overwhelming vibe I tend to get from people — single or not — is apathy; perhaps even straight up dislike. But whether or not you consider it to be romantic and exciting or commercialized and pathetic, one thing most of us can celebrate together is the fact that chocolate tends to go on sale in the shops. And not just chocolate; Valentine’s is a day marked by all manner of decadent desserts: mousse, cheesecake, creme brulee. Yum!

Of course, we have a fair few beers to match such indulgences, but for fear of drowning Monday’s tasting group in a pool of rich and fruity beers, I did throw in a few that played to the theme in other ways:

1) Highland ‘Orkney Best’: For anyone a bit fed up with all the love in the air, I broke out this English Bitter to start the round. Quaffable but full of flavour, the beer’s honeyed, marmalade hops meld into the Hob-Nob type malt quality and has proven to be an excellent foil to any cheese (or cheese fondue?) you might serve up on Friday.

2) Black Isle ‘Pollinator’: In keeping with their commitment to environmental sustainability, Black Isle released ‘Pollinator’, a Blonde brewed with heather honey, to raise awareness and funds for honey bee conservation. Needless to say, the honeyed sweetness and creaminess of the beer would could also help people realize the pleasure to be had in a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream.

3) Morte Subite ‘Kriek’: With a distinct sweetness backed up by sour cherry tartness, this Belgian Lambic is an ideal choice for anything with chocolate in it.

4) Flying Dog ‘Pearl Necklace’: I brought this beer out a while ago for a Stouts and Porters tasting, but even passing by the innuendo of the name the fact that it has oysters in it just screams Valentine’s Day. Once again, a subtle saltiness was noted in the beer which played along with its dry, roasty qualities. You don’t need to look past the label to figure out what you should be drinking this with (hint: it rhymes with ‘shmoysters’).

5) Cromarty ‘Raspberry Ghost Town Bourbon Barrel’: Once you know that ‘Ghost Town’ is Cromarty’s Porter, the rest kind of falls into place. While the bourbon character of the beer is fairly muted, its bitter chocolate and raspberry notes are most certainly present in abundance. Something for panna cotta or tiramisu perhaps?

6) Founders ‘Porter’: The label announces to the world that it’s ‘Rich and Sexy’ so who am I to argue? If you missed the American Beer Tasting, this beer’s enveloping chocolate, coffee, fruit and liqourice notes intermingle waaaaayyyy too well. This is almost a dessert unto itself, but it would work well with any rich pudding; be it cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding, or a huge slice of chocolate gateau.

We had five people tasting the beers on Monday night, and five beers were voted as top picks (numbers 2-5). So, while I rarely put my own vote into these things, I decided that the Founders Porter was the winner once again this go-around.