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On Tap: Don’t sell beer short when planning that special evening

by on February 01, 2018 10:50 AM

Most romantic dinners you see played out in movies or on television involve a couple sharing a meal and a bottle of wine. You rarely see two people having a special evening together with a pint of beer in their hands!

But as we come to this month that includes the most romantic of holidays — Valentine’s Day — don’t sell beer short on being part of a romantic evening. Melanie Phillips, who owns and operates Village Eatinghouse with her husband, Clay, remembers a special “first date” she had with Clay over some brews.

“Clay and I had our own individual set of friends that we hung out with at the bar at Duffy’s Tavern every Friday night,” she says. “One Friday evening in December 1996, Clay offered to give me a ride to Duffy’s from an event we were both at. We got to Duffy’s and none of my friends or his friends were there. That prompted us to actually sit together at the bar and have some beers while we fell in love with each other’s dreams. It was the beginning of a now 21-year loving partnership of marriage for us! I think we were drinking Millers.”

We asked a couple local beer experts for their suggestions on the most “romantic beers.” So if you are planning a romantic evening out with your special someone, besides thinking about a Pinot Noir or Riesling (both fine choices!) check out the beer list and maybe try one of these brews.

JP Mills, director of Dante’s Restaurants and Nightlife:

Hanssens Oude Kriek  Blended by the centuries-old know-how of the Hanssens family, this tasty sour is blended with black Belgian cherries. It has some slight residual sweetness but is tart enough from the acidity and cherries to be a great palate cleanser in-between bites of a rich Valentine’s Day dinner. The cherry flavor is a no-brainer that goes great with any chocolate and, again, the acidity is a great palate cleanser for the chocolate coating in your mouth.

Tröegs Nitro Chocolate Stout — This smooth, sexy, chocolate stout is nitrogenized, meaning that it is available only at a beer bar that has the capability to pour 75/25 drafts through a stout faucet (think Guinness). The nitro-pour provides a smooth, silky platform to deliver the chocolatey goodness that comes from six different malt varieties that layers the collate and vanilla notes in this rich and smooth dessert in a glass.

Ommegang Hennepin Farmhouse Saison — This one is a fantastic pair with most any food and is an excellent complement to any romantic dinner. Styled after a Belgian Farmhouse Saison, Hennepin has been a longtime staple of Ommegang, and few other American breweries come as close to replicating this magical Belgian style. High volumes of CO2 provide an excellent backdrop to the phenols and esters emanating from the yeast in this brew. Ginger, spice, and orange notes dance a choreographed routine in this one. Again, another great palate cleanser that has a semi-dry finish setting up the next bite from any Valentine’s Day meal.

Chris Schell, head brewer for Robin Hood Brewing Company:

Ommegang Hennepin Farmhouse Saison — One of the best ways to woo the object of your affection is with a home-cooked meal, and Hennepin is an outstanding culinary beer. Its flavor profile — peppery, earthy, herbal, and bittersweet — makes it ideal for pairing with virtually any dish. It demonstrates a particular affinity for braised or roasted meats. It’s wonderful to use in food as well. Try it as the steaming base for a plate of briny, garlicky mussels, or in the mirepoix bed that flavors your roast chicken. Hennepin’s combination of rustic origins and elegant packaging is the ideal thematic accompaniment to your culinary endeavors, and the spectacle of uncorking the caged 750 ml bottle firmly marks the evening’s transition from cooking to dining. Plus, the robust alcohol content (7.7 percent ABV) is sure to add a comely flush to your lover’s face.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale — Until you love yourself, you can’t love someone else. Thank goodness, then, for Sierra Nevada Pale Ale! Redolent of pine and citrus notes, this American-style pale ale was among the first of its kind. Its intriguing flavor profile, assertive bitterness, and artful bottle-conditioning has inspired thousands of people to try homebrewing for themselves, spurring them to develop the unique skills and confidence to call themselves craftspeople. Now, that’s attractive! Not all self-care need be constructive, though, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale happens to be one of the world’s great leisure beers. Poolside, at the pub, or halfway up a mountain, it’s at home anywhere! Treat yourself to this versatile, delicious beer, and then find someone to share it with.

Robin Hood Brewing Co. F. Tuck Porter — I have the brewer’s advantage here, but this beer did get me a girlfriend, so I have to include it, right? Before we met, my now-fiancée, Mary, regularly came into the brewpub for growler fills of F. Tuck. After a few months of this, our bartender, a mutual friend, decided to play matchmaker and introduce us. There must’ve been some magic in that porter (I certainly can’t credit my looks or personality), because Mary stuck around! We’re getting married this June. F. Tuck is a classic South English porter: sweet and warming enough to sip through the winter months, but sturdy and roasty enough to enjoy with grilled meat or around a campfire. While it’s no longer a core brand, it does come back periodically. When it does, swing by and pick up a growler — you might just meet someone special.

David Pencek is a freelance writer in State College and communications manager for Schlow Centre Region Library.



David Pencek is editor of Town&Gown magazine, Town&Gown's Penn State Football Annual, and Town&Gown's Penn State Winter Sports Annual.
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