While we may be too old to trick-or-treat, candy still seems to magically appear in the weeks surrounding Halloween. In my house, a bowl of candy showed up on the kitchen counter just yesterday (thanks roomie!). While it’s tempting to just gorge on the candy as is (and believe me, I definitely do that), here’s an idea to mix up your sweet indulgences. Explore the world of craft beer— like the true adult you are—by pairing brews with Halloween candies. You’ll learn a little something about hops and brews while ultimately satisfying your inner child's sweet tooth.
Candy Corn and American Pale Ales
Candy corn: you either love it or you hate it. Personally, I’m not a fan. However, pairing these ultra-sweet colorful bites with an American pale ale can balance out that sugar rush. American pale ales are notoriously hoppier than their English counterparts, making them especially bitter. That bitterness from the brew combined with the sugar and honey in candy corn marry into a wonderful, but not overly sweet, treat.
I'd recommend trying the Pale Ale from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company or the Stump Knocker Pale Ale from Swamp Head Brewery.
Skittles and Shandy
Refreshing and fruity, a shandy is a light beer mixed with another beverage, most commonly lemonade, ginger ale, or citrus soda. Often a summertime drink, the fruity and bubbly notes in shandy pair perfectly with a taste of the rainbow.
Give this combo a taste with either Leinenkugel's Grapefruit Shandy or the Ginger Lemon Radler from Boulevard Brewing Company.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Cream Ale
Reese’s cups provide such a perfect balance of salty peanut butter and rich chocolate, so don’t throw off that balance with a chocolatey stout. Instead, go with a smooth cream ale. Cream ales are light and mild in flavor, complementing the strong peanut butter and chocolate without messing with perfection.
To fully enjoy the Reese's experience, go for the Sweet Action from Six Point Brewery or the Summer Solstice from Anderson Valley Brewing Company.
Red Hots and West Coast IPAs
IPAs have become so culturally prominent that they’re split into two subgroups: West Coast and East Coast. West Coast IPAs are known for their earthier notes because of West Coast hops. Spicy cinnamon candies are the only way to go when pairing with this style IPA. If you’ve never had spicy food with an IPA, you’re missing out.
Pair your red hots with Stone Brewery's IPA or Founders Brewing Company's Centennial IPA.
M&Ms and Porters
M&M’s pure chocolate provides an excellent base to play with other flavors. Porters are rich and creamy beers with dark chocolate notes. Many porters add in flavors like coffee, oatmeal, or coconut to match their cocoa counterpart. Experiment with different porters to see which flavor combination you like best.
Try this combo with Last Snow from Funky Buddha Brewery or Liquid Bliss from Terrapin Brewery.
Airheads and Gose
Goses are a lightly sour style of beer that feature coriander, salt, and some tartness. They are not aged like a sour beer, but they share some souring components with their much tarter cousins. The sweetness of airheads will complement the mild saltiness of a gose without overpowering the tartness. These fruity-flavored goses will blend all the flavors together perfectly.
Try the Briney Melon Gose from Anderson Valley Brewing Company or the Watermelon Gose from Terrapin Beer Company.
Swedish Fish and East Coast IPA
Packing a punch of fruity and sugary goodness into bite-sized nautical treats, Swedish Fish are exceptionally sweet. Counteract the sugar high with a not-so-sweet IPA. Due to increased amounts of hops during the brewing process, IPA’s have an evident bitterness compared to other brews. While they still maintain that hoppiness, East Coast IPA’s are the fruitier, juicier, and more floral half of the American IPA style. In this case, that bitterness and fruitiness will complement our fishy friends quite nicely.
Pair your Swedish Fish with Cigar City Brewery's Jai Alai or Sweetwater Brewing Company's IPA.
Payday and Brown Ale
Brown ales are noted for their nutty tastes and dry texture. The salty peanuts in a Payday bar will highlight the beer’s nuttiness. Meanwhile, the sweet and smooth caramel coating will balance out the texture.
Give this a taste with Cigar City Brewing Company's Maduro or Abita Brewing's Turbo Dog.
The best part about these pairings? Now you have a legitimate, grown-up excuse to go trick-or-treating. You're "expanding your palette" and "increasing your knowledge" of the craft beer universe. Use hops and brews as your reasoning to grab a few extra handfuls from the candy bowl—it's research.