Chocolate is the consumable most commonly associated with Valentine’s Day, but many may not be aware that certain craft brews – especially those with chocolaty undertones – make the perfect treat for beer lovers. Of course, the addition of certain fruits and other flavors (like cherry, vanilla and even the spiciness of jalapeno) also brings out a bit of passion as well. As you head out with your sweetheart this year for Valentine’s Day, consider ordering up a pint of one of these deliciously romantic Michigan made libations.
ARBOR BREWING COMPANY, ANN ARBOR
Espresso Love is made with cold-brewed locally roasted coffee and oatmeal for a smooth and creamy texture and rich coffee and chocolate flavor without the coffee bitterness. Espresso Love is currently available at Corner Brewery and is sold in bottles around the state from February through May. Also look for Milestone Cask Porter – a rich, dark, complex, full-bodied porter with hints of dark chocolate, raisins, black licorice, and currents on the palate, and a smoky, sour finish. Faricy Fest Irish Stout is winner of the gold at the World Beer Championships, where judges described it thusly: "Dark coffee-like appearance with a creamy head. Medium-bodied. Mild bitterness. Peaty, smoky, roasted grain aromas. Rich and creamy on the palate with chalky, burnt flavors that never turn too dry through the smoky finish. A full flavored, smoky style with plenty of chocolate and espresso notes." Created by brewery owner Matt as a home brew to celebrate the life and honor the memory of best friend Michael Faricy on the first anniversary of his passing. (It's a brewer's nature to mark all important occasions and honor their favorite people with beer).
ARCADIA ALES, BATTLE CREEK
The award-winning Cocoa Loco Triple Chocolate Stout gets its rich flavor from Simpson Chocolate, Weyerman Chocolate and Crisp Chocolate malts. The addition of lactose lends the beer a creamy quality- not unlike a milkshake- while the Blackstrap Molasses adds rich, burnt, syrupy flavors. Flavors of baker’s chocolate and espresso dominate, while rich malty flavors and a subtle kiss of hops add nice balance, making this a truly one-of-a-kind BIG beer.
ATWATER BREWING, DETROIT
Vanilla Java Porter is the featured beer for Valentine’s Day. Vanilla and coffee with chocolate malt is sure to please during anyone’s Valentine’s dinner. Combine this with the sweet taste of a Michigan Cherry salad and the night is almost complete! Or, try Cherry Stout featuring juicy red Michigan grown Montmorency cherries.
BASTONE BREWERY, ROYAL OAK
Nectar des Dieux Triple – a nectar of love – is a Belgian-style strong golden ale with light fruit notes and hints of sweetness. Have a glass, and you are sure to fall in love!
BELL’S BREWERY, KALAMAZOO
Features two appropriate brews fit for Valentine’s Day. Two Hearted Ale is a 100% Centennial hop IPA, grapefruit & pine aromas, solid malt balance. Bursting with hop aromas ranging from pine resins to grapefruit notes, Two Hearted Ale remains one of the defining American-style India Pale Ales. The Cherry Stout is rich and smooth, matching malty dark chocolate flavors with the tartness of 100% Montmorency cherries grown in Michigan’s Traverse City region.
BIG BUCK BREWERY, GAYLORD
Presenting Love Potion Porter – a lovingly created porter kissed with rich, deep chocolate. Perfect for Valentine lovers or for relaxation after enjoying the beautiful snow of Michigan's North.
BLUE TRACTOR BREWERY, ANN ARBOR
Featuring two beers coming up for Valentine’s Day. The award winning Schakolad Weizen is a wheat beer made with real chocolate from our neighbors at the Schakolad Chocolate Factory. Also, Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout is a rich stout brewed with chocolate and cherries!
Redwing Raspberry Wheat Beer is a light wheat beer brewed with natural Raspberry extract and puree. This beer starts with a subtle sweetness and moderate tartness, and finishes with a palate-cleansing raspberry flavor that will leave you begging for more.
FORT STREET BREWERY, LINCOLN PARK
Celebrating its 6th birthday on Valentine's Day, and like every other year, they'll spend a week celebrating it. Amongst other things, expect the release of at least one new beer each night (6 total), Febrewary 14-18. The traditional "Valentine's Beer" is called "6 Years of Love" and is made with white chocolate and hibiscus flowers. It’s creamy and buttery, from the use of cocoa butter, and slightly tart and fruity from the hibiscus. You'll fall in love at first sip!
FOUNDERS BREWING COMPANY, GRAND RAPIDS
Founders Porter – “Dark, Rich and Sexy” pours silk black with a creamy tan head. “The nose is sweet with a strong chocolate and caramel malt presence,” says Director of Marketing and Partner, Dave Engbers. No absence of hops gives this beer the full flavor you deserve and expect…it’s cozy like velvet. “It’s a lover, not a fighter,” Engbers says. Won a silver medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup.
JOLLY PUMPKIN, DEXTER / ANN ARBOR / TRAVERSE CITY
iO Saison is the latest release to capture the hearts of art and artisan beer lovers alike, following last year’s introduction Ale Absurd. Drawn in by the historic elegance of the label design and then held tight by the rapture of flavors, it will be released in limited quantities, appropriately just in time for Valentine’s Day. iO Saison is brewed in a lovely fashion, with rose hips, rose petals and hibiscus. Yet, don’t be easily deceived by her looks, for like love – she can be oh so dangerous.
JOLLY PUMPKIN, NORTH PEAK & RIGHT BRAIN, TRAVERSE CITY
A collaborative labor of love, the Passion Brew special Valentine’s beer is crafted to benefit local food banks. Each brewery is using the same recipe to create a Warm Winter Brown Ale. Participating breweries will start offering this “Brew with Benefits” on tap Friday, February 11 and it will also be prominently featured that evening at the 2nd Annual Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival in downtown Traverse City, outside of Blue Tractor Cookshop & The Shed.
LIBERTY STREET BREWING COMPANY, PLYMOUTH
Don’t miss the release of Red Velvet on Valentine’s Day, based on the delicious chocolate cake with the rich, red color.
NEW HOLLAND BREWING COMPANY, HOLLAND
The Poet is a romantic offering for Valentine’s Day. This beer reveals a rich, smooth malt character enveloped in tones of roast and chocolate. A soft mouth-feel brings luxurious flavors and soothing aroma. The Poet is as versatile as it is delicious – the perfect accent to any chocolate dessert.
NORTH PEAK BREWING COMPANY, TRAVERSE CITY
The Valentine's inspired FLO IPA (“For Lovers Only) will be on tap by the weekend before Valentine's Day. It's got a nice touch of Chocolate malt in it for sweetness, along with Crystal malt for a bittersweetness to marry the wonderful hoppiness.
ROCHESTER MILLS BEER CO, ROCHESTER
Paint Creek Porter is a robust beer that features a rich, velvety chocolate malt flavor that will compliment any chocolate dessert. The featured seasonal beer is a Scotch Ale. The rich, malty flavor profile, featuring the use of peat smoked malt for a subtle smoky flavor, and the higher alcohol content, make this beer the perfect choice for warming your heart and soul during the cold winter months.
SAUGATUCK BREWING, SAUGATUCK
Vanilla Nutmeg Oatmeal Stout is brewed with fresh ground nutmeg and pure vanilla extract. The vanilla, nutmeg, and oatmeal flavors play off of each other to make this a very surprisingly drinkable beer…perfect for sharing with your sweetie.
SHERWOOD BREWING COMPANY, SHELBY TOWNSHIP
Burning Love – a VD Beer – is being released February 12. This extra pale ale is aged on Jalapeño peppers and is only available in limited supply at the pub.
WALLDORFF BREWPUB, HASTINGS
This year, serving up Cobain’s Double Dark IPA – a Gold Medal winner and Best of Show at the 2010 World Expo of Beer – this beer is a nicely balanced black IPA for the hop-head love birds. Java Brown is a nice winter-time treat combining coffee and beer. A malty, brown ale infused with Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Coffee, this local winter favorite pairs greatly with chocolate desserts on Valentine’s Day!
The MBG board oversees the organization’s administrative and promotional affairs, including four annual public events: Winter Beer Festival in February in Grand Rapids, Summer Beer Festival in July in Ypsilanti, UP Fall Beer Festival in September and Detroit Fall Beer Festival in October, as well as its annual Winter Conference in January. Currently, the Guild represents 81 member breweries – the highest number since the organizations inception in 1998.
Michigan’s thriving brewing industry contributes more than $24 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $133 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #5 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”
The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the Michigan brewing community; to increase sales of Michigan-brewed beer through promotions, marketing, public awareness and consumer education; and to monitor and assure a healthy beer industry within the state.
For more information, including a list of Michigan microbreweries, log on to www.michiganbrewersguild.org.