Food Loves Beer Editors
Treat yourself to these ghoulish gems.
Black cats, vampires, ghouls and goblins. Halloween is steeped in myths and monsters, and has given rise to countless scary stories and films. As we grow older the holiday loses its allure for some, but fortunately Halloween is alive and well in the ancient tradition of brewing. From the almost extinct English mild to ales that defy category, we have chosen six scarily delicious brews that will be a treat for all revelers on All Hallows’ Eve.
A proper English Mild is a rare treat to find, and Black Cat is one of the best around. Contemporary milds are a product of wartime rationing and government restrictions in 1930’s England. Brewers were forced to use less grain to produce the same amount of beer, resulting in lower alcohol levels in the final product. Very few are produced today, which is a shame since they are quite delicious. Black Cat is deep reddish brown in color with a tan head and lacing. The aroma reveals treacle, mocha, and a hint of smoke. Dark roasted malt dominates the taste, where you will also find toasted nuts, coffee, and an earthy hop presence. Full flavored but light bodied, Black Cat finishes dry with light char bitterness.
Serve in a pint glass at 50-55 F.
Suggested Food Pairings: Black Cat is the perfect lunchtime beer. Enjoy with salads, turkey club sandwiches, and creamy soups.
Unlike the ugly, bothersome creature of fairy tales, Hobgoblin is a pure joy to encounter. The brew pours a dark ruby color with a nice head and thick lacing on the glass. It smells of toffee, bakers chocolate, and warm oatmeal cookies, with just a hint of plum. Pale, crystal, and chocolate malts work in harmony to create flavors of milk chocolate, stone fruit, and light coffee, while the classic combination of Goldings and Fuggles hops add both a woodland flair and a touch of bitterness in the finish. The hobgoblins of lore often resided in the kitchen, so why not keep the legend alive and make sure that your beer pantry is well stocked!
Serve in a pint glass at 50-55 F.
Suggested Food Pairings: Enjoy Hobgoblin with roasted root vegetables, hearty stews, and (both sweet and savory) scones.
Like the blood of the vampire’s victims, Nosferatu flows deep red. The aroma is caramel malt, apricot, and freshly baked dinner rolls. There is a noticeable alcohol presence on the palate. Flavors of dates, apple, and sweet malt balance the bite of grapefruit and pine from the hops. Intensely hoppy from start to finish, Nosferatu has a medium body and lingering bitter finish.
Serve in a pint glass at 45-50 F.
Suggested Food Pairings: Baked brie, carrot soufflé, and skirt steak all complement the bold character of Nosferatu.
As black as the night of a blood moon, Warlock will mesmerize your senses with aromas of warm pumpkin bread, vanilla, and nutmeg. The flavor is quintessentially Halloween, with Dark Milky Way candy bar, pumpkin latte, and a touch of spiced rum layered over real pumpkin flavor. If all this sounds too sweet, don’t worry. While Warlock is sweeter than other pumpkin beers, its medium carbonation and bitterness balance out the malts and spices, resulting in a remarkably delicious brew that’s sweet without being cloying.
Serve in a snifter or goblet at 45-50 F.
Suggested Food Pairings: The sweet malt and pumpkin spice flavors of Warlock pair wonderfully with butternut squash, roasted organic chicken, and glazed pumpkin muffins.
The only thing to be afraid of here is not getting The Fear before the limited supply runs out. Released each autumn, The Fear is a bold and spicy imperial pumpkin ale. Unlike the eccentric artwork of Ralph Steadman on the label, there is nothing terrifying about this brew. It's as welcoming as grandma’s kitchen from the moment it's poured into the glass. The essence of pumpkin, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, and gingerbread fill the air, hinting at the sweetness that awaits you in the first sip. All of this carries through to the flavor, where dark malt adds a touch of chocolate and Warrior and Willamette hops add fruit and bitterness.
Serve in a pint glass or goblet at 45-50 F.
Suggested Food Pairings: The Fear is rich and warming, and pairs well with sweet potato crème brulee and carrot cake, but also works nicely as a dessert itself.
Weighing in at an unbelievable 16.1% abv this year, no one can deny that The Beast lives up to its name. Brewed with six malts, six varieties of hops and six sources of fermentable sugars (Dates, raisins, molasses, alfalfa honey, Turbinado sugar and Dark Belgian Candi sugar), The Beast is a true revelation of what a beer can be when brewed to demonic proportions. With the hue of fine claret, flavors of aged rum, and the body of vintage port, The Beast explodes with the taste of tropical fruit, tangerine, stone fruits and rich molasses. Whatever you do, don’t buy a bottle of this exceptional beer ― buy at least two. The Beast will continue to evolve for at least 10 to 15 years, so stock your cellar now for the End of Days.
Serve in a snifter or goblet at 50-55 F.
Suggested Food Pairings: To complement the lush flavors and warming alcohol of The Beast, pair it with Stilton and walnuts, oatcakes with marmalade, or enjoy it alone as an after-dinner drink.
Do you have a favorite Halloween beer that's not here? Tell us all about it in comments.