Suds With Securb: Valentine’s Day: The best chocolates don’t come in boxes!

Last year in writing my Valentine’s Day Sud’s column, I set out to make my Amstel Light drinking wife a beer fan. A year later I am happy to report the experiment has been a resounding success. There are still some Amstels sitting in the back of the beer fridge but they are now buried by Celis Whites and a nice selection of wheat beers. Heading into that column I was half jokingly setting out on the formidable task. In retrospect it has to be one of the smartest moves I have ever made in my life. Just recently my wife joined me at Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest in Boston and sampled some of the most interesting recipes in the world. She found a few beers that she really enjoyed like Beer Works Gingerbread Ale and Avery’s Imperial Oktoberfest Lager The Kaiser. The turning point was when she went nuts over Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch. 

It was great seeing the big smile on Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione’s face as he watched my wife take her first sip of a DFH beer and instantly become a DFH fan for life. We all knew at that point my wife had arrived; beer geekdom was now within her reach.

If that wasn’t enough to make my wife a DFH fan we also got to meet Dogfish Head’s Distillery Manager Mike Gerhart. Mike is the mastermind behind DFH’s line of distilled spirits including DFH’s 60 different flavored vodkas! Unfortunately DFH didn’t have any of their spirits there so my wife made me promise I would take her down to Dogfish Head’s Rehoboth Beach brewpub this Spring. I can’t believe my wife is asking me to take her on vacations to brewpubs! The plan worked; my wife is really getting into craft beers.

I have momentum now and want to keep it rolling, however every once in a while I inadvertently put a bump in the road on my wife’s journey to the world of better beers. For instance I’ll crack an extreme beer that I think is the best thing I ever poured in a glass and will beg her to taste it. Most of the time she will say it’s interesting beer but on occasion the taste is simply not for her and she is totally turned off by the brew.

I need to step back and make a game plan if I want to enjoy more beer festivals and beer vacations with my wife.

When I first set out on this project I sought out the expertise of Jocelyn Grooms of Wine Society for her insight on women and beer. In keeping with this tradition I sought out another woman in the beer industry to help me bring my wife to the next level of beer drinking. Cindy Jou stepped up to the plate and was more than happy to help me pick out some Valentine’s beers for my wife.

Cindy Jou is the New England Division Sales Manager for the Global Brewers Guild. Her portfolio of beers includes Allagash, Chimay, De Koninck, Flying Dog, Maredsous, Rogue, Young’s and roughly 70 other quality beers.

With so many beers in Cindy’s portfolio the only place that made sense to meet and discuss this would be The Sunset Grill in Allston. The Sunset has 112 beers on tap and over 500 in bottles. The Sunset is great because any beer that would come up in our conversation would be readily available to sample.

So without further delay here is my conversation with Global Brewers Guild’s Cindy Jou.

TMR: So what would you suggest as a Valentine’s Day beer this year for our TMR members that are looking to transition themselves or a significant other to the world of better beer?

CJ: For women who don’t like dark beers, wheat beers in general are light and refreshing. Belgian wheat beers are usually spiced with coriander and Curacao orange peel.

TMR: Are we sticking strictly with the Belgiums or are there other styles of wheat beers we should try?

CJ: There are plenty of others to try. German wheat beers are not spiced, but the German yeast strains give off a subtle banana and clove character. American wheat beers are more neutral in character with generally little to no spice flavoring.

TMR: What foods would you suggest pairing with a wheat beer for a perfect Valentine’s dinner?

CJ: Wheat beers go great with food that has citrus aromas or chicken, seafood and pasta. Make a romantic candle-lit dinner for two at home and serve your wheat beer with a linguine with clam sauce.

TMR: Can you make some wheat beer suggestions or picks?

CJ: Three great examples are Allagash White, Flying Dog In-Heat Wheat or Abita Purple Haze Raspberry Wheat.

TMR: So what beers would you suggest for women like my wife that have already journeyed into the world of wheat beers to continue their discovery into the world of better beers?

CJ: For women who like dark beer, chocolate beers are perfect for Valentine’s Day.

TMR: Nice pick. Are we talking about super dark stouts with roasted chocolate malt?

CJ: Chocolate beers are generally dark in color with roasted chocolate malt used to give off that chocolate flavor. Some brewers add real bar chocolate to the beers to enhance the chocolate taste.

TMR: So what are we going to pair with our chocolate beer?

CJ: Make sure you buy a box of high-quality gourmet chocolate to go with your chocolate beer.

TMR: I love Rogue’s Mocha Porter. Are there any other chocolate beers we should try?

CJ: Rogue Chocolate Stout and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout are both great chocolate beers.

TMR: We’ve covered a lot of beers. What would you Valentine’s Day choice be?

CJ: Instead of popping a bottle of wine to celebrate Valentine’s Day, pop open a 750ml cork-finished bottle of beer. The cork will have the same loud pop effect as a champagne bottle, and will be large enough to be shared by two people.

TMR: So what beer are you going to pop the cork on this year?

CJ: I will be popping open a two-year old, 1.5 liter bottle of Chimay Grande Reserve for Valentine’s Day.

TMR: Who is the lucky guy that gets to share this great bottle of beer with you?

CJ: I will be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year with Will Meyers, Brewmaster of Cambridge Brewing Company.

TMR: We know Will here at The ManRoom. We visited Cambridge Brewing Company in our Lush Life column in May of last year. CBC brews some of the best beers I have ever had the pleasure to drink. In keeping with our Valentine’s theme I have to mention CBC was the spot of Mrs. Securb and my first date.

So now it is time for this week’s beer picks. Can you give us four picks this week?

CJ: I am going to have to go with Chimay Grande Reserve, Allagash White, Rogue Chocolate Stout and Flying Dog In-Heat Wheat.

TMR: Great picks – I am going to have to pick up all four, however I am still going to make a side trip to the florist just in case the beers aren’t quite enough. That being said here are this week’s picks.

Chimay Grande Reserve
Pours with a thick head and is dark brown in color. Yeasty, malty nose with tones of dried fruit and peppery yeast. Very complex flavor with the essence of dried fruit. Lightly malty, somewhat creamy, with a warm alcoholic finish.
Commercial Description:
9% ABV Named Grande Réserve in 75 cl (25.4 fl.oz.) bottles, it is principally distinguished by its character of a strong beer. This is a beer whose fragrance of fresh yeast with a light, flowery rosy touch is especially pleasant. Its flavour, noticed when tasting it, only accentuates the pleasant sensations perceived in the aroma , while revealing a light but pleasant touch of roasted malt. This top fermented Trappist beer ,refermented in the bottle, is not pasteurised.

Allagash White
This beers pours so true to its style – a cloudy yellow tone with a fluffy white head. The aroma is of fruity yeast, wheat and earthy hops. The mouthfeel is full and alive on the palate with a nice malt flavor that is perfectly balanced with coriander, spices and citrus. The finish is nicely hopped giving this Belgian White a nice dry finish.
Commercial Description:
Our interpretation of a traditional Belgian Wheat Beer, Allagash White is unique and truly refreshing. Brewed with a generous portion of wheat and our own special blend of spices, this beer is light and slightly cloudy in appearance, with a spicy aroma. Overall, it is a beer which is very drinkable and smooth any time of the year. ABV: 5.5%

Rogue Chocolate Stout
The beer pours like a classic stout should – opaque black with a rocky tan head. The aroma is of coffee, chocolate and touches of smoke. The mouthfeel is very full and immediately the roasted coffee flavors come to the forefront as the beer finishes the chocolate begins to rise on the palette but not in an overbearing sweet way. There is a great bitter hop finish that perfectly plays off of the chocolate and coffee flavors.
Commercial Description:
The recipe for Rogue Chocolate Stout was created several years ago for export to Japan. The exported twelve ounce Chocolate Bear Beer bottle label is in Kanji and features a teddy bear with a pink heart on his belly. Chocolate Stout was released for Valentine’s Day in 2001 in a twenty-two ounce bottle for the US market. The label features a Roguester (Sebbie Buhler) on the label. The bottled of Chocolate Stout is available on a very limited basis in the US, so get it while you can! Hedonistic! Ebony in color with a rich creamy head. The mellow flavor of oats, chocolate malts, and real chocolate are balanced perfectly with the right amount of hops for a bittersweet finish.

This week’s Valentine’s Pick:

Flying Dog In-Heat Wheat
The color is a cloudy golden yellow with tons of tiny champagne-like bubbles and a quickly disappearing white head. The aroma has a huge wheat scent with very spicey yeast tones. There is also a dusty almost cobweb aroma going on that is very nice. The mouthfeel is light and lively with a nice citrus blast on the first sip and then coats your tongue with hops and spices that linger for quite a long time. This is a great Hefeweizen that is very true to the style.
Commercial Description:
Brewed in the centuries old tradition of German beers, our brewers use more wheat and proprietary yeast to give it the unmistakable character of a flavorful, authentic Hefeweizen. The High proportion of wheat gives In Heat its smooth, full-mouth feel and our special yeast gives it its unique fruity and spicy aroma.