Ah, Valentine’s Day. That one holiday where individuals splurge on chocolates and flowers, others bemoan its commercialization, and some sit alone in a dark room eating a pint of ice cream. For all the hoopla around this special day there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on how it all started.
Some historians believe its origins were born from a pagan ritual in ancient Rome. Others contest that there is no connection at all. It is believed that the Romans held a feast over several days in February to celebrate Lupercalia. Animals were sacrificed and women were whipped with the hides to increase fertility. Naked men and women were coupled together for the duration of the festival by the drawing of names out of a jar.
The Romans were also responsible for executing two men named Valentine on February 14th. Not during the same year, mind you, but sometime during 3rd century A.D.. These men were martyred by the Catholic Church with a celebration that became known as St. Valentine’s Day. It is said that one of these Valentines was either imprisoned for his Christian beliefs or for arranging marriages in secret. While in jail he, according to different legends, restored sight to a jailer’s blind daughter or fell in love with her. Before his execution he sent the young women a letter signed “your Valentine.”
Then sometime in the 5th century Pope Gelasius I combined the saints’ day with the pagan ritual (without any of the fun stuff). Kind of like what the church did with Christmas. The festive day still celebrated love and fertility, but without the nakedness (they still got drunk).
About the same time in the region that would become Normandy, France, Normans (descendants of Norse Vikings) celebrated Galatin’s Day. The term Galatin meant “lover of women.” Some believe this got confused with St. Valentine’s day because they sound so familiar.
The works of Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized the holiday, and helped it grow throughout Britain and Europe. During the Middle Ages handmade cards became the popular thing to do to celebrate the day. Eventually the holiday made its way over here. Thanks to the industrial revolution factory-made cards came into existence. Then in 1913 Hallmark made its first Valentines and hasn’t looked back.
For those who are single there is Single Awareness Day, with the catching acronym S.A.D.. Some view this as an anti-Valentine’s Day, and a day to show that they don’t need another person to complete them. There are those who celebrate it on the 14th, and others on the 15th. Either way, if you’re single use this day to treat yourself.
The Bleeding Heart: The Basics
- Brewery: Grimm Brothers Brewhouse (Loveland, CO)
- Style: Cherry Chocolate Brown Lager
- ABV: 7.0%
The Bleeding Heart: The Details
Grimm Brothers’ The Bleeding Heart returns again for another Valentine’s Day. This beer is a celebration of the holiday and where it’s from. Loveland is known as the Sweetheart City, and this beer has become the official beer Loveland’s Valentine Celebration. The Bleeding Heart had been a rotating style in previous years until last year. Some past styles were a Raspberry Porter and a S’more Porter.
But that changed last year with then newly promoted Head Brewer Laura Pilato taking over. Pilato’s first beer designed and brewed for the brewery was a Brown Lager. So it was decided to abandon the porter base of the past, but also go back to the first adjunct (cherry and chocolate).
With what we learned about Valentine’s Day dark history it seem almost appropriate to make a darker beer in celebration. This beer pours a dark brown with red highlights when held up to the light. With the very light-brown foamy head, the beer could pass for a glass of Coke. The lager is lighter in color than a porter, yet darker than most brown beers I’ve come across. The smell is delightfully chocolate with a dark roasted malt backbone. Little hints of cherry break through that help bring to mind those chocolate cherry cordials that pop around this time of year.
The tartness of the cherries is the first thing to hit the tongue. That is followed by a slight fruitiness (but not sweet), lager yeast, and a milk chocolate that morphs into dark. The flavor profile isn’t quite full-bodied, but has enough character to make it enjoyable. The finish is clean, yet there are subtle roasted malt and chocolate notes that linger in the aftertaste. It doesn’t coat your mouth, Just kind of sits there at the back of your tongue.
I would say the body is medium or slightly lighter. This one has a little more heft to it than a traditional lager. The carbonation is noticeable, but doesn’t call attention to itself. I did not even notice the 7.0% ABV on this. It felt like I could have several of these over an evening.
Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special (2017)
- Director: Scott Aukerman, Akiva Schaffer
- Genre: Comedy, Musical
- Total Running Time: 54mins
- Rating: TV-MA
- Availability: Netflix
From the mushed-together minds of Comedy Bang! Bang! and The Lonely Island (Popstar and SNL) comes a Netflix special starring Michael Bolton. If you are aware of the comedic sensibilities of either you’ll know they are unique on their own, but there is some overlap with the absurd and the stupidly brilliant (or brilliantly stupid). Bolton, your mom’s favorite pop ballad singer of the 80s and 90s, stars alongside other known comedians and actors.
The premise is pretty simple. Bolton is tasked by Santa Claus to host a sexy telethon because his elves have made too many toys for next Christmas, and needs 75,000 more babies to meet the supply. See, simple.
Bolton has a wooden acting ability that could be called into question. Yet it fits nicely as it has the vibe of a host of a local telethon and a late night infomercial, with the look of The Bachelor. He doesn’t do much of the comedic leg work, that’s what everyone else is for, but when called upon he can deliver a dry line that sells the absurdity of everything. When it comes down to it, Bolton is there because of his voice, and that he seems to have a sense of humor about himself. Remember the SNL bit he did about Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean? Well, that gets revisited along with some of his greatest hits.
There are so many guest appearances in this that to list them all would be long and boring. Manning some of the phones at the telethon are Andy Richter, Sinbad, Bob Saget, Brooke Shields, and Janeane Garofalo. Sarah Silverman and Randall Park play a perverse version of Sonny and Cher. Andy Samberg plays Bolton’s nemesis, Kenny G, while the actual Kenny G plays a janitor. Will Forte, one of my favorite SNL alums, makes an appearance as Michael Fulton, Bolton’s down on his luck twin brother.
There’s also a subplot about a mattress salesman who sets out to assassinate Michael Bolton. Look, it’s silly. I’m not going to argue that.
Some sites list The Bleeding Heart as an American Amber/Red Lager, and others have it as a fruit beer. I don’t think either really do it justice. I kept thinking about Doppelbocks as I drank this. The darker color and chocolate notes felt really familiar, but the added touch of cherries brought something new and different. I’ve stated before that lagers don’t really call to me, but I found myself really enjoying this one. The tartness and the roasted malts and chocolate notes compliment each other very well. This is a lager I would actually order if it was on tap. It’s a lager that suits the cold winters.
Tracking down this limited release beer might be a challenge if you don’t live in Northern Colorado. The Bleeding Heart is available on tap at the brewhouse, as well as Loveland liquor stores (I found some in Fort Collins), and select bars and restaurants. Or you can visit Grimm Brothers next February as they have a special tapping event for the beer. Next year they plan on expanding the series by offering a variant in smaller quantities.
Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special isn’t going to be for everybody. The humor is perverted, immature, absurd, dumb (in a good way), and sometimes stretches into anti-comedy. The jokes don’t always land, but there is a sense of bravado in going all in for a joke. The Netflix special is basically a get-together of SNL alums, who most have made an appearance on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast or show. It’s not much of an investment of time at 54 minutes. You could do much worse, like watching an hour block of CBS programming.