When I was a young buck, my favorite holiday, by far, was Halloween. I remember one particular year, when I was 8, I began making Halloween decorations in July. Yes, you read that right; when other kids were out riding their bikes, skinning their knees and playing kickball, I was busy cutting construction paper into bats, Jack-O-lanterns and ghosts. Wearing paper cuts as badges of courage, I turned my bedroom into an arts and crafts display that would have given Martha Stewart DTs. As Halloween got closer, my anticipation worked itself into a rabid fervor, and by the time October rolled around and by October 31st, I was a full-on spazz.
As an adult, my enthusiasm for this spooky holiday has not waned. Through therapy and the necessity of paying the mortgage, I no longer am making Halloween decorations in July, however, I have found a grown-up way to embrace my child-like love for All Hallows Eve: Halloween appropriate beers! Obviously, there is no defined category of Halloween beers, but with cool artwork on the bottles and creative names, many of these beers jump out at me as I am walking through the aisle of my local craft beer store. What I have come to discover over the years is that these beers are not only visually appealing, but also incredibly delicious and unique.
So, here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite craft beers that scream Halloween.
1. Great Lakes Brewing Company Nosferatu. I mentioned earlier being obsessed with Halloween, but what I didn’t mention was the for 6 out of the 9 years I went trick or treating, I went dressed as a rubber chicken-toting vampire. A unique take on Count Dracula, for sure. This beer also has a unique connection to vampire lore. The label art and name of this beer is an homage to the 1922 vampire movie. This beer is a remarkably balanced Imperial Red Ale that you will be sure to want to sink your teeth into.
2. New Holland Ichabod. This beer is named for the unlikely hero, Ichabod Crane, from Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The label has an awesome depiction of the Headless Horseman riding a horse, getting ready to terrorize your thirst. This pumpkin ale is spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and is very drinkable at 5.2%. At that reasonable ABV, it is the perfect beer to drink while you spend Friday evening handing out candy. Better yet, if you play the drinking game that necessitates you taking a drink every time you see someone dressed as Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, you will still be able to function the next day
3. Surly Pentagram. I believe it was Adam Sandler’s 1996 comedy album, What The Hell Happened To Me? track about joining the cult that said, “The night time is the right time.” This beer begs to be consumed on a ghoulish evening filled with goblins and ghosts. This sour beer that is brewed right here in MN has awesomely demonic bottle art and is topped with wax. The flavors are complex and funky and the ABV is 6.66% which is apropos for this dark and magical sour beer.
4. Southern Tier Warlock. You don’t have to have a collection of 20-sided dice and a dingy basement to enjoy this deliciously arcane ale. This beer has only been on the market for two years, but is already considered by many to be in a class by itself. Warlock is a stout brewed with pumpkin spices. I first consumed this beer while giving out Halloween candy last year and was also mixing and matching candy pairings. It didn’t take long before I was under the Warlock’s spell. Available in 22 oz. bombers, this limited offering is sought after by many, so if you see it, grab it.
This list is just the tip of the tombstone, but you get the idea. I don’t go trick or treating anymore and I retired the rubber chicken. However, I still am giddy when I start to see these beers on the shelves in the liquor stores, or on tap at my favorite haunts around town. I would love to hear which Halloween selections put a scare in your snifter, so feel free to list your favorites in the comments section below. Cheers!