Valentine’s Day may have just passed and winter will probably stick around Chicago for another month or so, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of warmth and sweetness to be found, especially in AnimeChicago’s Round Table choice for the month of February, My Love Story!! My Love Story!!, also known as Ore Monogatari!!, is a charming series about the budding love of two first-year high school students: the towering Gouda Takeo and the petite Yamato Rinko. And while many series have used the “opposites falling in love” trope before, My Love Story!! is genuine in both its humor and its characters. It’s great to see a series in today’s cynical world that is honestly charming, if not downright beautiful, especially in its depiction of teenage love.
However, My Love Story!! isn’t an escapist “perfect love story” either. Takeo and Yamato face many real problems, both in their relationship and in the relationships of other characters. But it is through these problems that we find out that Takeo and Yamato are both strong and sweet in their own ways.
It’s easy to claim that the “strength” found in Takeo is simply in his physical stature, seeing as how he has the body of a peak Olympic weightlifter, but that would be completely missing his true, inner strength. Takeo’s real strength is that he is willing to help out his friends, family, classmates, and total strangers at a moment’s notice, even if it puts himself in immediate danger. This is also where Takeo’s sweetness can be found, as we often see Takeo intensely supporting his loved ones in any way he can.
Conversely, Yamato’s small stature would lead some to believe that she lacks any reasonable strength, and that is also simply untrue. While her strength may be more subtle, since we do not get as much screen time with her as we do with Takeo, it is perhaps far more powerful. Yamato is very forward and honest about her feelings and is also very courageous. And much like Takeo, she is overwhelmingly supportive of her friends.
So what style of beer can fit the rich and complex nature of this sweet and strong couple in My Love Story!!? The perfect answer is the Imperial Stout. Of all the varieties of stout that you can find, Imperials are the biggest and boldest. Imperial Stouts have quite a following in the American craft beer scene due to their robust and varied flavors. Imperials released by some brewers are met with much fanfare and they may be accompanied by a large-scale event. The most notable of these is quite possibly Dark Lord, brewed by Three Floyds. Dark Lord Day, the all-day party that the brewery hosts for the beer’s release is a spectacle that any craft beer fan should experience at least once in their life (and the topic of a future OTP article).
While many Imperials are highly sought after, especially since the bottled versions can be aged much like wine, there are still some great Imperial Stouts that you can find right now in Chicago.
Big Hugs – Half Acre Beer Company
Released in late December, Big Hugs is Half Acre’s fine example of an Imperial Stout. The beer does not favor any one particular flavor that many of the beers in the style might leans towards such as coffee, cigar, or currant. Instead, Big Hugs is a delightful blend of all the exquisite flavors you can find in this style. Essentially, Big Hugs is the best starting point for newcomers experiencing the style for the first time while still being a very drinkable beer for seasoned craft beer fans. This beer also gets bonus points from me because the art they use for the bottle release is always different and always hilarious. Unfortunately, Half Acre sells out of the bottles usually on the day of the release, but you can find it at one of Chicago’s great beer bars for a few months after release.
Dinosmores – Off Color Brewing
Off Color Brewing, in my opinion, has been knocking practically every beer style they make out of the park and for that have become a favorite brewer of mine. Their take on the Imperial Stout, Dinosmores, is no exception. What makes Off Color such a great brewery is that their beers always have a fantastic twist that not only makes their take on the style stand out, but also adds a new level of complexity that otherwise may have been overlooked by lesser brewers. Dinosmores takes the Imperial Stout and adds the warmth and marshmallow sweetness of a campfire s’more. Imperials are usually considered dessert beers anyway, and Off Color creates something so familiar while being so different from other Imperials.
Imperial Stouts are perfect for any craft beer fan who wants a bold, strong beer that still maintains a bit of sweetness. It’s a great beer style to pair with the warm fuzziness of My Love Story!! and would be a great choice for a late Valentine’s Day gift, or early White Day gift, for the Takeo or Yamato in your life.