Dark Lord, Darkness, Dreadnaught – brewers love to associate imperial stouts with the sinister, and that’s just a small selection of heavyweights beginning with ’D’. Not all stouts have names that invoke horror, but they do riff heavily off Halloween’s second most prominent colour – black. Stouts also deliver a certain gravitas. After all, the dead rising from their graves and all manner of terrible beasts walking the streets isn’t really the time for a light lager.
TRY: Dieu du Ciel! Peche Mortel: the Canadian classic is inky black, with a wonderful smoothness, and a kick of coffee to keep you going through a long night of ghosts and ghouls.
Pumpkin ales are the first thought for stereotypical Halloween drinking, and stouts may not be far behind. However, pumpkin ales tend to look quite jolly, with their orange tones, and while drinking a pint of inky stout has some links to darkness, neither really deliver foreboding. Enter the kriek and its distant relative, the Flanders Red Ale. Pick the right example of the style, and you’ll look like you’re drinking a glass of blood, which pairs well with a host of costumes, including zombie and blood-thirsty vampires. Both styles also inject a palate-cleansing aspect into the mix, allowing you to easily switch from candy corn to chips and back again.
TRY: Cantillon Kriek: if you can find it, this tangy beauty could be a template for the style.
Halloween isn’t the only Fall festival, and it’s certainly not the one most associated with beer. There are plenty of reasons why you should keep Oktoberfests on your menu. Firstly, the season is too short, and it’s a great malty lager that works well on a cool night. Secondly, you may not want to session a stout or a sour, but Oktoberfests are beers associated with huge steins and good times. Finally, a lager on your Halloween menu provides an accessible alternative to friends and family who might not feel comfortable taking the plunge on any styles too far from the mass-produced norm.
TRY: Les Trois Mousquetaires S.S. Oktoberfest: caramel, toast and almond abound in a beer that ratebeer.om ranks in the top 50 for the style.
Chocolate and peanut butter is a heavenly combination almost on par with the pairing of bacon and anything else. Take it a step further by pairing brown ales with an Oh Henry, Reese’s peanut butter cups and all manner of chocolate and peanut treats that will be handed out across the country. The malt profile of a brown ale can produce some of the chocolate, caramel and nut notes that we’re used to in a candy, while the carbonation helps cleanse the palate from some of the more cloying aspects of chocolate and sugary treats.
TRY: Rogue Hazelnut Brown Ale: This beer could be a dessert in its own right, but really comes into its own alongside chocolate and nut based snacks.