Most holidays pair wonderfully with certain beer styles. There are spiced beers and winter warmers for Christmas. Pumpkin ales for Thanksgiving. Dry Irish stouts for St. Patrick’s Day. Vienna-style pale lagers for Cinco de Mayo. And aged beers for National Grandparents Day (which is Sept. 13, in case you didn’t know).
But Halloween is special. Not only because it happens to be my birthday, but also because it pairs with a whole genre of beer styles. You can celebrate All Hallows Eve with beers of the season, such as fresh hop ales or pumpkin ales. Or you can go for beers with witch, devil, etc. themes, such as The Lost Abbey’s Witch’s Wit or Victory’s HopDevil. Recently, I learned that you can even pair some beers with Halloween candy.
In other words, it’s a flexible holiday with many festive options. Here are some more suggestions:
Maudite by Unibroue is a pleasant Belgian-style ale that will seduce your taste buds with spicy yeast esters and a light, cake-like sweetness. The beer’s texture is effervescent and fluffy, and it finishes with a dry, peppery note, along with a throat-warming amount of fruity alcohol (8% ABV). Maudite means “cursed” or “damned” in French, which partially explains the devil on the label. (Learn more about this Canadian legend here.)
Even though it’s named after a fearsome, mythical creature, Hobgoblin by Wychwood Brewery is surprisingly approachable. It’s easy to drink, with mellow elements of toffee, brown sugar and toasted bread, plus some fruity hints and a mild bitterness.
Among Avery Brewing’s “Demons of Ale” series beers, Mephistopheles’ Stout is the most devilishly delicious. Being the crafty shape shifter that he is, Mephistopheles’ complexity will seemingly change as you drink it, especially as it warms up. A myriad of flavors and aromas will drift in and out of its darkly roasted malts, from plum to raisin, vanilla to chocolate, black licorice to coffee, and molasses to caramel. Be warned, though: Its insanely high alcohol content (more than 15%) is hidden dangerously well.
Dead Guy Ale by Rogue Ales is a German-style maibock that was originally created to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead on Nov. 1, but it works just as well for Halloween. This malty elixir offers notes of toffee and nuts, along with a moderate amount of balancing bitterness.
Every time I see the label art on Hopworks Urban Brewery’s (HUB) Abominable Winter Ale, I think of the classic, stop-motion animated movie, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and that damn abominable snowman that scared the hell out of me as a kid. Fortunately, the beer provides a wholesome coziness, with flavors of toast, nuts and citrusy hops.
Locally, there are many seasonal brews to pair with Halloween.
Smoky, spooky Rauch Lager by Chuckanut is back on tap. Normally it is only available in the summer, but this year the brewers decided to treat everyone to some smoky Halloween fun. Chuckanut’s Rauch is a Marzen-style lager that is brewed with Weyermann smoked beechwood malt to give it a smooth, smoky and malty flavor.
We’re still knee-deep in local pumpkin beers, too.
Kulshan’s Horseman’s Head Pumpkin Ale is also a treat. Made with fire-roasted pumpkins, rye malt and spices (cardamom, ginger and cinnamon), this high-alcohol beer will surely warm you up on this rainy Halloween.
Aslan also makes a tasty Pumpkin ale called Rocky Horror, which happens to have a devilish amount of alcohol: 6.66%.
If you know who Freddy Krueger is, then you probably know you shouldn’t be sleeping very much this time of year. To help keep you awake, Aslan recently partnered with Bellingham Coffee Roasters to create Java Lava Red Ale, a Northwest red ale made with cold-brewed coffee.
Of course, many beers go well with Halloween parties, and there will be many to choose from in Bellingham, including Boundary Bay’s Halloween Bash, The Devilly Brothers and Ghost Babies at Kulshan, and a Costume Contest at Chuckanut.
Whatever you decide to drink or do this Halloween, I hope it’s hauntingly delicious.