Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk
October 28, 2011
While I will drink wine at any occasion or holiday event or, let’s face it, on any day that ends in a “Y,” somehow when I think of Halloween the drink that comes to mind is beer.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that it is in October, the traditional month of Octoberfest, or that it is kind of a rowdy holiday. Regardless, beer is what’s on tap for All-Hallows eve in my haunted house.
There are a number of different ways to go with a Halloween brew search. You can start with the obvious; those beers that have appropriately “scary” names and inspirations that thematically fit the proverbial bill. You can think about the pumpkin beers that have become ever more popular with brewers. Or you can look to some heavier, darker beer styles that directly relate to the seasonal changes in the weather.
Let’s start with the terrifying.
Oregon is one of America’s best beer states (maybe second only to Colorado, but I’m biased) and some of its most esteemed brewing citizens are found working magic, mixing potions and producing great ales at Rouge Ales Brewery. You can find their Dead Guy Ale in beer coolers here in the valley and it will get you in the mood for a little trick or treating. The beer is made in the style of a German Maibock, a strong golden beer that has its origins in Bavaria. While the name may be scary the taste is smooth with a touch of sweetness.
South of Oregon, the folks at San Diego’s famed Alesmith Brewing Company annually play with a brew they like to call the Evil Red Dead. A deep amber or mahogany color, this rich and chewy concoction is only found on tap at the Alesmith pubs during the season of the witch, but if you happen to be on the coast in the Fall it is well worth a sip or three.
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Also in So Cal, Lake Elsinore, to be exact, is a brewery that lives the Halloween theme throughout the year. Reaper Ale seems to have made a cottage industry out of brewing beers with scary names. From the Deathly Pale Ale to the Mortality Stout and the Sleighor Double IPA, these beers are all about the macabre. Unfortunately, they don’t sell the witch’s brew in the state of Colorado; maybe they find us a little too frightening to work with, and so you’ll have to head out to California to try their poison potions.
If you don’t want to be frightened by your beer, but you still want to stay in the costume of the season may I suggest a few pumpkin beers to try. Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, headed up by Sam Castiglione, perhaps the most revered man in the craft-brewing world, makes a great Punkin Ale. The beer features flavors of the orange gourd, but also has a sweetness to it that inspires thoughts of pumpkin pie without being cloying or overt.
Sam Adams out of Boston always does good seasonal brews and Halloween and pumpkin beer is a natural fit for the company. They brew a Harvest Pumpkin Ale that requires over eleven pounds of pumpkin pulp per barrel. The beer has a smoky nose to it and a hint of pie spice on the finish. It is sold in six packs nationally and is a classic pick-up for a Halloween party. Just make sure to keep it away from the kids.
Closer to home the Avery Brewing Company in Boulder is releasing for the first time a Pumpkin Beer in bottles that they call the Rumpkin. The reason for the name has nothing to do with the sexual connotations of the word that can be found in the Urban Dictionary (talk about frightening), but, rather, result from the combination of pumpkin and Rum. That is to say, they are aging the beer in Rum Barrels. Production is limited to 512 barrels and I hope to find a bottle or two for sample. After all I’ll try anything, or should I say almost anything, once.
Of course there is nothing better than a great beer on tap and if you are out and about in Aspen this Halloween the choice here for a taste that will warm you, fill you and keep you going on your appointed rounds is the Pyramid Peak Porter at our own Aspen Brewing Company.
It may not scare you, but everyone needs a little refuge from the carnage.