Considering my frightening love for Christmas and it's corresponding beers, you would think I would jump at the chance to drink any seasonal appropriate ale. Unfortunately, this has never been the case, but if the opportunity was to arise I'm sure I would jump at the chance.
Luckily, the chance to make Halloween a special time to drink themed beers came about this year from the girlfriend. She'd visited a local shop and bought me two bottles of beer that she felt were perfect for Halloween night. I was very touched, especially when her own mother added to the collection. My beery excitement grew and I added to this expanding selection with a few pumpkin beers I found, to begin a new annual tradition that I can hopefully keep.
So, for once, a young British cynic like myself who had never embraced All Hallows' Eve found his holiday entry through beer. Here is what I drank this Halloween:-
This famous beer, that I purchased myself, pours with a deep orange hue and retaining thick head. This has plenty of winter spice on the nose with enough clove to darn a moomin. The taste is a little bit thinner than the sum of it's parts, giving a soup-bitingly, Halloween scariness to a Scandinavian grog undertone but never mixing or balancing enough to provide moreishness or deliciousness to the promising start. Pumpkin and spices are certainly evident, but everything finishes in a very (dare I say) Brooklyn Lager light hop finish that is familiar and feels mass produced and churned. Beer by a macro in spirit, this would be a decent Christmas beer.
Another personal purchase, this delightful dark brown beer with a luscious head smells very similar to the Post Road with another overwhelming dominance of cloves The taste is a smoother affair than predicted. It's initially reminiscent of a barley wine with plenty of cinder toffee and caramac depth behind a banana hoppiness. But the aftertaste is allspice with a ginger heat and cinnamon bite. The pumpkin is growling at you, carving out it's sweet gooey centre and placing a candle right between angry, hollow eyes.
This was the beer purchased by my girlfriend's mother, (she saw it and thought of me) and very grateful I am indeed.) The face of Halloween and with a pleasing label, this non bottle conditioned ale pours as thin and low carbonated looking as one would expect. Initial scents are very much bottled Wychwood but there is a pleasing, grassy spiciness undertone which is a surprise. The taste is malty and Hobgoblin-like at times. But there's a lovely warming spice and a fruity balance that makes for a fuller bodied finish than one might expect. Low expectations sometimes lead to pleasing results. There's nothing wrong with this on Halloween.
This is the first beer bought my girlfriend for Halloween night as she felt the twilight label fitted the evening. An amber, "hoppy" bitter (in description) does not disappoint in flavour. Well rounded, gentle strawberry maltings with a non-too-sharp bitter bite make for a very drinkable ale that ticks all the modern sessionable beer boxes
This was the second beer bought for the night by my girlfriend due to the beer name, and assumedly the brewery one too. Perhaps it's the particular branding that made me assume this was going to be disappointing (the branding is old fashioned in my opinion.) However, what we have here is a delightfully, bity, drinkable bitter. The malty, amber description is a far cry from the golden, light ale that pours into the glass. There's plenty of bitter, Chinook style (I don't know whether Chinook is used) spice into a smooth, balanced bitter that's malts are not domineering. Pine, nettles and hedgerow bite make this a dry, summer beer that may not be perfect for Halloween but is very good.
My final Halloween beer is light and golden in colour with minimal head. Apparently all American pumpkin beers smell similar, though have a much stronger, more distinctive smell than actual pumpkin fruit. This is a much crazier, spicier effort than the other American efforts. There's a breadier, cookie dough finish behind the spicy, allspice bite. The finish is fresh gingerbread, with a soft doughiness and lingering warming finish. This is outstanding, but certainly a seasonal one off.
I enjoyed this much more than I thought and now fear that this, amongst other seasonal beer drinking occasions, will become a regular feature. Enjoy your beer at the right times!