For a special treat a couple times a year, my wife takes me to State Line Liquors in Elkton, Maryland so I can stock up on craft beer. The place is freaking awesome. It’s like a candy store for microbrew fanatics. We were in there a half hour yesterday and spent over $240. I was on a mission to score lots of pumpkin ales and Oktoberfest lagers, and by all means I succeeded. But the real fun is always getting home and trying out the beers my wife chose for me. For a non beer-drinker, she really knows how to pick ‘em! The first Tami choice I sampled last night, Brasserie Dieu du Ciel’s Aphrodite, just might be her greatest pick yet. Clearly she’s not just looking at labels and making random guesses. She knows a thing or two about what I like in a beer! I always considered the Founders Breakfast Stout to be the A1 gold standard for craft stouts, but this vanilla cocoa stout from Montreal’s Brasserie Dieu du Ciel could very well be its equal. It’s absolutely incredible. In Canada, it’s called Aphrodisiaque. In the States, it’s sold under the more P.G. rated moniker Aphrodite. Either way, it’s possibly the smoothest-tasting stout I’ve ever had. Made with organic fair-trade cocoa and vanilla beans, this stout is fantastically balanced. The vanilla and cocoa go great together, both standing out but neither dominating. I love the combination of sweet and bitter. Think dark chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream on top. Mmmmm. The flavor is rounded out nicely with roasted malts, subtle notes of coffee, and a surprising hoppiness for a stout. All in all, it’s a delicious and silky black ale that goes down easy. I suppose you could call this a “dessert beer” if you wanted, but somehow that seems a bit of a slight. I don’t just compare this to other sweet stouts. I compare it to all stouts. I’ve had a lot of stouts in my day, and Aphrodite/Aphrodisiaque easily rates in my top five. It’s got that great roasty flavor you love in any good stout, and the sweetness from the vanilla somehow makes it even more pronounced. Last year it was ranked the 76th greatest beer in the world by Rate Beer. Sounds to me like it’s underrated!