Have you seen columnist Lisa Morrison's online piece on the hottest couple around? Most likely not. Here's the gist of it: beer and chocolate are gaining popularity as the newest "it-couple." A seemingly unlikely combination, beer connoisseurs from all over the country are realizing the duo's incredible potential as a tasty winter treat. Think about it. Chocolate is an aphrodisiac. Beer, when consumed in generous amounts, has a similar effect. Valentine's Day, here we come.

Many beers, their flavors robust and inviting, have enough gusto to stand up to chocolate's rich essence. At least that's what Ray Daniels, director of Craft Beer Marketing for the Brewers Association, says. The tastes of certain brews mesh well with particular types of chocolate. Here's your guide, on this Hallmark holiday, to pleasing your taste buds with the two things guaranteed to keep you warm at night.

If the chocolate is dark, rich and at least 70% cocoa, go with a stout (Guinness) or a bock (a German-style, malty beer; look for Huber Bock, Aass Bock or swing by Cincinnati's Bockfest in the spring).

Chocolate with a hint of coffee flavor: see above. Stay away from coffee liquors - the flavor will become monotonous.

Never stepped beyond milk chocolate's safe, cozy boundaries? Hoppy beers are best with this kind. A Bud will do just fine.

Whoppers do something for you? Malted milk chocolate goes quite well with IPA (Indian Pale Ale). The sweet and saltiness of the malted milk will balance out the beer's bitter flavor.

Nuts for nuts? Belgian wheat beers are the way to go, whether it's a white ale like H”egaarden or Blue Moon or a fruity pale ale like Bass.

If your chocolate consumption is relatively minimal (like only through chocolate chip cookies, let's say), the lighter flavor of malty golden beers will complement the subtleties of the sweet treat in front of you. K”lsch is a good choice for this.

It's true, beer is beer, but never let anyone tell you it's low class. Ditch the bottle of wine (a truly terrible complement to chocolate) and try a couple of these combos tonight. Believe us, it's a tasty treat no matter when the beer kicks in.


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