By Jason Notte
The Street

Why should Valentine's Day chocolate only come in boxes?

Don't have a good answer for that one, do you? There's no real reason shoppers have to settle for a generic red heart or some box of pre-assorted selections from the local CVS or Walgreens and no real argument against giving a beer-loving valentine the best of both worlds.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 51 percent of Valentine's Day shoppers intend to pick up some chocolate for their loved one this holiday season. Consumers told the NRF they intend to spend an average of $22.81 on chocolates, bringing total Valentine's Day chocolate and candy spending up to $1.6 billion this year. Considering overall chocolate sales hit $12.9 billion in 2009, according to the Census Bureau, Valentine's Day is a huge portion of the annual chocolate take.

Meanwhile, research organization Mintel says sales of craft beer have more than doubled since 2007, to $12 billion last year. While the Beer Institute notes that those gains came at the expense of large brewers that lost sales as working- and middle-class consumers cut back during the recession, small brewers have spent the past half-decade or so expanding market share and sweetening up the beer supply.

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That includes mixing the occasional chocolate flavors into their brews, and nowhere is that more visible than in chocolate stouts and porters. While usually so named because of the brewer's use of dark roasted chocolate malt, occasionally sweeter chocolate flavoring and even chocolate nibs are used in the brewing process to make the beer slightly sweeter or as flavorful as drinking chocolate.

For those who'd prefer a heart-shaped 10-pack to a box of truffles, we've compiled the following list of 10 great chocolate porters and stouts. It's by no means comprehensive, but it's a good starting point for building a Valentine's Day assortment for your special, beer-loving someone:

For more chocolate beers
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