- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) - Wine and dessert pairings have been a staple for those with a sweet tooth for ages, but a recent dessert trend has area taprooms getting in on the sweetness.

Virginia breweries like Three Notch’d Brewing Company and Pale Fire Brewery are adapting beers for the dessert lovers in the Friendly City.

Pale Fire offers brews like the Momo Belgian Chocolate Stout, an infusion of dark fruit and chocolate fermented with Belgian yeast and fair-trade cacao nibs.

The Harrisonburg taproom of Three Notch’d features “Choc D” Chocolate Dunkelweizen, “Ms. Mary’s Muffins” Blueberry Muffin Ale, “Biggie S’more” Imperial Stout and Apple Crumb Donut Oktoberfest.

When coming up with sweet new creations, brewers have a lot of fun, according to Pale Fire co-founder and general manager Tim Brady.

Pale Fire brewers will begin by having a beer with the other brewers, throwing around ideas and finding one everyone agrees with.

“If everybody is excited about it and would drink it, we start the piloting process, where we brew a small batch of a beer to get a sense for what the final beer would be like,” Brady said. “Then we make any necessary tweaks before we make a larger batch.”

Three Notch’d Harrisonburg brewer Mary Morgan began trying out dessert beers because she has a sweet tooth and got a little help from taproom customers.

“We have a wall on my fermentation chamber where people can write their suggestions,” Morgan said. “Looking at it now, I see apple cider, chocolate milk, blueberry, mango and things with a lot of sweetness.”

Having unique flavors also keeps customers coming back.

“Craft beer fans also really like to try new beers and experience something new,” Brady said. “It’s a curious bunch of people, and new flavors get them into our taproom.”

For those who are skeptical of sweeter brews, both brewers insist they still taste like beer.

“We’re just trying to hit some of the highlight flavors,” Morgan said. “For the ‘Biggie S’mores,’ you get a lot of the graham cracker and marshmallow, but there is an underlying beer style that you can pair that with.”

“Biggie S’mores” has an imperial stout base and the Apple Crumb Donut has an Oktoberfest base.

But customers in both taprooms enjoy the dessert beers, especially for their uniqueness.

“(Sweet beers) are some of the more requested batches to come back through,” Morgan said. “Everybody has an IPA or two, but having a signature, more unique style of beer makes it a little bit more special.”

When it comes to deciding what to eat with dessert brews, Morgan said pairing sweet with sweet is a good idea.

“We’ve had donuts in the tap room that complement certain beers,” she said. “For the ‘Biggie S’mores,’ we even encrusted a glass with the graham cracker crumbs on the outside.”

Brady thinks natural sugar would pair well with Pale Fire’s Momo.

“I would immediately think fruit, so something like strawberries, strawberry shortcake or blueberry pie would pair really well with MoMo,” he said. “Now that we thought that up, I’m going to need to try that.”

To learn more about Pale Fire’s brews, visit palefirebrewing.com or call 217-5452.

To learn more about Three Notch’d brews, visit threenotchdbrewing.com or call 217-5939.

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Information from: Daily News-Record, https://www.dnronline.com

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