Suds With Securb: Valentines Day: A dozen long stems or a dozen longnecks?

Suds With Securb Logo Mrs. Securb has been complaining that ever since embarking on this column adventure, I have been spending more and more time downing beers in my Manroom. I tried to explain to her the importance of research in creating an informative and entertaining read but all I get is an eye roll and head shake as she walks out of my fortress of solitude followed by a loud door slam.

Then just recently a stroke of genius hit me like a lighting bolt; we could spend time together drinking beer! And with Valentines Day around the corner, what better way to say I love you than to buy her some top-notch hooch.

There’s only one bump in the road with this resourceful plan and its a doozie; Mrs. Securb is not a beer drinker. In fact the only beer she’ll touch is Amstel Light and even then shes lucky to get through a 12 pack a year. Every attempt I have made to turn her on to high-end beers has always resulted in a scowl on her face followed by the question How do you drink this crap? I could ask her the same question regarding Amstel Light.

There are some beers that are marketed toward women like the low carbohydrate, but flavorful  Michelob Ultra. It even comes in a dainty little 10-oz. can.  Corona Extra is a favorite of women garnished with its little lime wedge, but alas, this beer also has no flavor or substance. How dare they call this beer extra! The only thing extra about it is the added water.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and the Internet yielding no viable information on women and beer, I needed an expert and I needed one quick. So, I turned to Jocelyn Grooms; the beer buyer at Wine Society in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.

I calmly explained my task to Jocelyn and asked for her insight on women and beer. She shared my opinion that beers marketed toward women like Michelob Ultra and Tequiza simply were not good and suggested what she called “transition beers” to bring my wife from the realm of wine coolers and malt beverages to the world of beer. With my interest peaked, we looked at a few Wheat beers, Belguim Whites, and Fruit Beers, finally deciding on 4 for me to take home and sample. The winners were Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale, Jopen Adriaan, Dogfish Head Au Courant and Unibroue Éphémère Apple. Determined to sway Mrs. Securb, I packed these bad boys in the trunk along with a bunch of other treasures and headed home to commence research.

When sampling exceptional beers several criteria must be considered. First look at the beer’s color, its head and its consistency. Do not hold the beer up to light when doing this as that will dilute the true color. Next, give the glass a little swirl to get the carbonation going and release the aroma and slow down for a second to appreciate the fragrance. Breathe it in through your nose with your mouth closed, and then try with your mouth open. Let us now take a sip, not a gulp. Hold it in your mouth and think about the flavor, palette and aftertastes. Is the beer sweet or bitter? Do you sense any underlying flavors like chocolate, raisins, molasses or maybe even dust or cobwebs? There might be some spices you taste even salty or peppery overtones.

If you are sampling multiple beers like I am planning to do in a couple of seconds here, I suggest starting with the lighter brews then working your way up to the darker ones. When I say light to dark I am not talking about color as much as I am talking about taste. There are plenty of light colored IPA’s out there with enough hops in them to wipe out your palette for the night, whereas a Michelob Dark is lighter on the pallete. Still, the color should be a great clue. Also, try to cleanse your palette between beers; wine drinkers sometimes use sorbets. My friend Volgon whom I consider a Beer Jedi suggests cleansing the palette with more beer, like a yellow American Lager.

Hopefully you feel enlightened enough to delve into some of the finer transitional beers to then pass along to your lady. That said, here are my thoughts on the recommended Valentine’s Day beers.

Unibrou Apple – This beer is destined for the apple of your eye. It sports a golden color with slight haze and the aroma of sour apples. Carbonation is fizzy on the palate. It’s fruity and zesty, but not too much as the apple does not overbear the taste. Instead it has a sweet and sour presence almost like candy. Commercial Description: Apple-Éphémère possesses a fresh apple aroma with reminiscent notes of “Granny Smith” and “McIntosh” a subtle flavour of green apple is complemented by delicate notes of fruit and spice topped by a rich white head.

Jopen Adriaan – This spiced ale will spice up your Valentine’s Day if you know what I mean. I was blown away and very surprised by this little gem even though it has no hops! Hop-less beers like Jopen Adriaan are Gruit beers, made with a medieval herbal combination of primarily three herbs: sweet gale, yarrow and rosemary. Each commercial gruit ale recipe is slightly different, mostly due to the addition of other spices. Sorry, no commercial description is available.

Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale – Any woman who appreciates a nice home cooked meal will enjoy this dinner beer. Often featured on cooking shows, it has a cloudy orange body with virtually no head. It’s also very dry and chalky with an almost wine or sake-like finish. The yeast has a nice doughy aroma. Commercial description: Buckwheat (better known as soba) is not a type of wheat but a member of the rhubard family (a fruit, not a grain!) Buckwheat has been a longtime staple of Japanese cuisine because of its nutritional value. The flavor is unique, toasty-nutty sensation with medium body and good hop bitterness.

And my number one pick for Valentine’s Day is…

 Sam Adams Utopia MMIII – This is more of a brandy or cognac than a beer. Pour an ounce or two of this pricey 50 proof brew into a small snifter, put on some music, turn down the lights and let Valentine’s night unfold. Commercial Description: To create Utopias, the brewers at Sam Adams used traditional brewing ingredients including all four types of Noble hops, which add a slightly earthy, herbal taste. The spiciness of the hops really comes alive. In fact, Utopias MMII has even been described by some as almost “fiery” — a fitting description for the strongest beer in history. Beyond the special brand of hops, Utopias features ingredients that truly set it apart from other varieties of beer. Utopias MMII contains caramel and Vienna malts for its rich amber color and several different types of yeast including a variety found in champagne. $100 a bottle and it’s limited to 3000 bottles, which look like copper brew kettles.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day but please remember before picking up any of these brews: different strokes for different girls. You might want to pick up some roses as a backup incase the beer idea doesn’t float. If it does, a whole new lifestyle of being encouraged to pick up new beers awaits.

Note: Wine Society is a great beer store and I suggest anyone in the New Hampshire or Massachusetts area to stop by. They have rack upon rack of some the finest and most interesting beers in the world.