Nantahala Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout
Released for Valentine’s Day each year, Nantahala’s confectionery stout is like a cordial made with sour cherries and high-cacao chocolate. Dry peanut skins and soft but sweet cherry give the nose a peanut butter and jelly sandwich vibe, while cola-like botanicals merge with bitter chocolate and transition to tart cherry, which grips the tongue long after the finish.
Starr Hill Shakedown
In the mood for subtlety? Shakedown plays coy with its aroma, only revealing notes of pecan, marshmallow and sweet dark cherry in minimal amounts. Dusty cocoa and soft nuttiness emerge with effort on the tongue, while the gentlest tug of tart cherry lingers through the finish. Even the alcohol—a robust 9%—is alluringly covert.
Hardywood Raspberry Stout
The 2014 GABF gold medal winner in the American Fruit Beer category smells like sugary jam spread across Cadbury chocolate, and the front of the sip only reinforces its candylike qualities. The swallow, however, balances the sweetness with waves of heavily roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Sweet and decadent, it’s a beer built for sharing.
Witch’s Hat Cherry Cordial Night Fury
Michigan-based Witch’s Hat makes several barrelaged variations of its molasses-spiked imperial stout, Night Fury; this one recreates dessertlike flavors through additions of cherries and cacao nibs. Bourbon and brandy barrel-aging lend a fruit liqueur character to a base of sticky vanilla, marshmallow and hot fudge—if it sounds luscious, that’s because it is.
DuClaw Quick Start My Heart
This Baltimore-brewed imperial stout’s powerful aroma combines farmers market-fresh strawberries with milk sugars, dark chocolate and roasted nuts, but the flavor flips the script with blasts of burnt toast and charred barley. Take a big whiff after each sip to thread some sweet fruit through the lingering roasted bitterness.
Deep Ellum Cherry Chocolate Double Brown Stout
Fans of the classic cherry cordial will find a lot to love in this 8% ale, which recreates the treat’s flavors as perfectly as any beer we’ve tried. But if CCDBS’ cherry syrup and milk chocolate melange aren’t enough for you, you’re in luck—Deep Ellum also makes an even more intense, bourbon barrel-aged version.
The cherry on top: Familiarize yourself with these common cherry varieties and you’ll never mistake a sweet for a sour again.
• Bing: Deep scarlet, Bing is the mostly widely produced cultivar of sweet cherry in the U.S.
• Montmorency: Commonly grown in Michigan and Door County, Wisconsin, this tart, burning red variety is a popular choice for pies and preserves.
• Rainier: Named after Mt. Rainier in Western Washington state, this peach-hued cherry is prized for its large size and sweet, delicate flavor.
• Amarena: A sour, dark, slightly bitter cultivar of Italian origin, Amarenas are often preserved in syrup. They make great additions to cocktails and ice cream.
• Maraschino: Super-sweet maraschino cherries are made, not grown, through a process that involves soaking them in brine and almond extract.
• Napoleon: Also known as Queen Ann or Royal Ann, this sweet variety is used almost exclusively for maraschino cherry production.