Photo: john holzer, Flickr
Each year, right around Valentine's Day, my friends Emily and Matt host an aphrodisiac dinner party. I know what you're thinking. Heck, I did too. However, instead of beneath-the-table hanky-panky, the dinner focuses squarely on sensual foods such as avocados, bananas and chocolate.
Thus, my contribution to this year's feast was a no-brainer: a couple bottles of chocolate stout, courtesy of California's circa-1989 Bison Brewing. Since going organic in the early 2000s, Berkeley-based Bison has turned out some of the nation's tastiest all-natural brews. The brewery's hits include the Honey Basil Ale (a tasty mate for Thai curries); the nutmeg- and cinnamon-spiked Gingerbread porter; and the charged-up Imperial Brown Ale.
Despite the delicious options, time and again I find myself turning back to Bison's Chocolate Stout. Don't let the name fool you: the stout's not as gooey or sweet as sun-melted Hershey's candy bar. (That's a very good thing, since I don't have much of a sweet tooth.)
Instead, the pitch-black potion is relatively nimble on the tongue, with an aroma of fudge, freshly ground java and a load of roasted malt -- a medley of five organic malts are used, along with plenty of cocoa powder. The dry stout drinks light and creamy, with a nice current of coffee and hop bitterness to balance out the dark chocolate character.
Bison's stout, dare I say it, is a surprisingly sexy beer. Unsurprisingly, every last bottle was drained at the aphrodisiac dinner.
Joshua M. Bernstein has written about brews, bars and booze for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, Imbibe Magazine and The New York Times. His beer book, Brewed Awakening, will be published by Sterling this fall. Follow him on Twitter @JoshMBernstein.
- Love beer? Cook with it, too. KitchenDaily.com has great stout recipes.
Hungry for news about fast food, slow food, food politics, food personalities, and food controversies? Then sign up for our weekly newsletter. Plus, be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter.