SAMUEL ADAM WALTERS FREELANCE WRITER
TRICK OR TREAT...?
Our Gruesome Guide to Halloween Ales
Trick or treat…? That’s the question every beer enthusiast must ask themselves when it comes to Halloween ales.
Are they a trick by those wily marketing men to sell you sub-par ale under the guise of a seasonal gimmick? Or an autumnal treat well worth the annual wait? When confronted with a pumpkin beer is it best to turn off the lights and pretend no one’s home? Or should you welcome the thing with open arms and a grin on your face worthy of Jack Nicholson? To avoid these seasonal woes, let us guide you through some of the pumpkin beverages you might come across this Halloween.
Stewarts, the independent Scottish micro-brewery founded in 2004, has taken inspiration from over the water in making their pumpkin ale. Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie and the American love of all things Halloween come together to influence this one. Spicy American Summit hops speak for themselves here, and with a sprinkle of cloves and a strength of 4.3%, it’s definitely one to look out for.
Everyone’s favourite Leicestershire brewery (their re-assuring heritage reaches back to 1849!), has created something special for 2013. Everards Pumpkin Ale is a rich, ruby little number that boasts all the flavours you would expect for the spookiest time of the year. It goes without saying that pumpkin features heavily, but over this comes a burnt and distinctly smoky flavour. Styrian Dana hops bring a balancing lightness and a taste you won’t forget in a hurry.
Now for the real McCoy….This genuine, made in the US of A product, goes by the name of Post Road Pumpkin Ale and is a festive offering from Brooklyn Brewery. It’s available here but might take a bit of hunting out. Admittedly, this smooth, drinkable beer may be a little heavy on the spice for some palates. However, a mere whiff of this one and it’s clear that the hundreds of pounds of pumpkins that apparently get blended into the mash are much more than a fine piece of marketing.
Roughly six miles south of the Cathedral City of Salisbury lies the award-winning Downtown Brewery. Downtown’s Pumpkin Ale comes in at 4.2%, but more excitingly includes locally grown pumpkins. Not only are they locally grown, but they’re organic as well, which makes this one a must on ethical grounds alone. We couldn’t find out quite what went on with those pumpkins, but the resulting orange hue of this beer is certainly something to behold.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Swallows
It may not involve many pumpkins, but we couldn’t resist giving this one from Cambridge-based Elgood’s a favourable mention. Yes, the world’s favourite boy wizard comes to us this Halloween in the form of a refreshing beverage, and a rather plummy one at that.
Don’t forget that for maximum beer-related spooks this Halloween, The Rake in Borough Market is putting on a Pumpkin Fright Night. They’ll be offering a wide selection of Halloween beers with which to wet your whistle, and adding a few scares along the way. And more importantly, don’t forget to use your ilovegoodbeer app to claim your free beer as well!
I Love Good Beer Mag - Oct 2013