Halloween may look a little different this year, but that’s all the more reason to shake things up and amplify the fun factor and the tasty factor. While we may not be going to parties, bar-hopping in costume, or trick-or-treating with our kiddos, there are still ways to make the spookiest day of the year a celebration to look forward to and to remember. Our favorite of those ways? Candy and beer pairings, naturally. It’s a grown-up approach to Halloween’s sugar rush. Get a little fancy by putting on your thinking cap and actually contemplating the flavors of your favorite confections. The reward is more than snacking on a Snickers: it’s an experience, and a delicious one at that. To get you started, we’ve rounded up some popular candies with their perfect matches.
Pay Day and Baby Ruth: Jackalope Brewing Company Bearwalker Brown Ale
Brown ales are malt-balanced beers that feature some of the indulgent flavors you might find in a porter or stout, like caramel and chocolate, but with a subtler presence and a lighter feel. Their malts also tend to create nutty flavors and aromas. They’re perfect, therefore, for foods that have that nutty quality, like gouda. And when we’re talking Halloween candy, what’s nuttier than a bar of actual nuts, held together by ooey gooey caramel? Pay Day and its chocolate-covered cousin, Baby Ruth, are a match made in heaven for a brown ale. Jackalope’s Bearwalker raises the bar on this pairing. It’s made with real Vermont maple syrup for an added touch of sweetness and spice that will make those Pay Days and Baby Ruths more delicious than ever.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Butterfinger: Mayflower Brewing Company Porter
Did you know that Reese’s peanut butter cups are America’s favorite Halloween candy? It’s not exactly a mystery. Chocolate is good and peanut butter is good and the two together are, duh, double good. It’s a classic pairing in and of itself, creating a classic treat, and that should go with a classic brew. A porter is just the thing. Its roasty vibes add depth to, yet also cut through, the sweetness of the chocolate and peanut butter. Its coffee notes provide a hint of complexity, and its cocoa character harmonizes with the Reese’s cup’s own chocolate. Mayflower’s Porter is simple and utter porter perfection, a shining example of the style, and so is an easy pick for upping your Halloween candy consumption game.
Twizzlers: Ebbs Stout No. 1
A trick for your treat: stellar beer-and-food pairings come out of attempting to recreate iconic duos. For example, the universally approved chocolate-covered strawberry. Think about how you can mimic the magical combo of chocolate and strawberry with your candy and your beer. Voila, Twizzlers and stout! Twizzlers offer a sweeter, richer interpretation of strawberries’ tart brightness, but that balance is present and ready to mingle with the roasty chocolate situation that is a stout. The Stout No. 1 from Ebbs is a straightforward can o’ the dark stuff. It’s smooth, silky, rich, roasty, and subtly dark-chocolatey--in other words, it’s ideal for those strawberry vines.
Sour Patch Kids and Skittles: The Virginia Beer Company Saving Daylight Citrus Wheat Ale
Sour Patch Kids and Skittles are examples of candy that are big on flavor, so they need a beer that holds its own but also doesn’t clash with its own big, discordant flavor. They want a beer with a clean and versatile base and some flavors and aromas that play well with their own. A wheat beer balances their burst of tartness, sweetness, sourness, and brightness, but also brings a hit of complementary citrus. The Virginia Beer Company’s Saving Daylight is a wheat ale that takes another step in this direction with actual grapefruit and orange peels added, making it the ultimate partner to fruity Sour Patch Kids and Skittles.
Milky Way and Snickers: Japas Cerveceria Ultra Sorachi IPA
Candy bars like Milky Way and Snickers have their own symphony of flavors: milky chocolate, warm and sweet caramel, nutty peanuts or nougat. This calls for a beer that that can stand up to that with its own strong flavor, marry that with its own different elements, and avoid muddling that with notes that don’t go. An IPA is certainly bold enough for the job, and its flavors and aromas open up these candies’ profiles into a complex bouquet without drowning anything out. The Ultra Sorachi IPA from Japas Cerveceria is a great example. It’s got touches of lemon to brighten the chocolate and caramel, some hop bitterness to cut through the sweetness, and a bold yet balanced finish that ties everything together.
Starburst: Montclair Brewery Baobiere Fruit Ale
Whether you’re #teamred, #teampink, #teamorange, or #teamyellow, Starburst is the fruity treat you’ve probably loved the longest--this is an OG favorite from kindergarten on. That’s thanks to just how big its explosion of fruit flavor is. Starburst chews can’t be paired with just any beer. They need something equally bursting with bright fruitiness. Enter: the Baobiere Fruit Ale from Montclair Brewery. This beer is made with African baobab fruit, so it definitely freshes up your Halloween candy spread with some new and intriguing flavors and aromas. Baobab balances tartness and sweetness, making it a dream match for Starburst.
Rolos and Hershey Bars: Moody Tongue Brewing Company Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter
Sometimes a great beer-and-food pairing is all about contrasts, and sometimes it’s all about flavors that match up beautifully. With straightforward chocolate or a chocolate and caramel candy like Rolos, you can reach peak decadence with a similarly profiled beer. The candy and the brew heighten each other, emphasizing the sweet, creamy, warm notes of one another. The ideal beer for this approach is Moody Tongue’s Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter. Its chocolate, caramel, and vanilla flavors were basically made for partnering with sweets, but it’s brewed with lager yeast for a clean, dry finish that cuts through richness and keeps this combo from tipping into cloying territory.
Mounds and Almond Joy: Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery French Toast Brown Ale
Brown ales really are a go-to for candy and dessert pairings, and what’s extra exciting is what different breweries do with different brown ales, creating a nice range that harmonizes with a whole variety of candies. At its most basic, a brown ale has nuttiness and hints of chocolate that work wonders for chocolate bars and add depth to the light, tropical sweetness of the coconut in Mounds and Almond Joy. Lickinghole Creek’s French Toast Brown Ale levels up with notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and maple. The end result will pop with different but complementary flavors that are complex and indulgent.
Raisinets: Ghost Brewing Company Afterlife Kentucky Common
The Kentucky Common is a historical style you don’t see every day, which makes Ghost Brewing’s offering a special treat on its own. It also happens to pair deliciously with Raisinets. The classic Kentucky Common is malt-balanced with notes of graham, biscuit, caramel, and toffee. Right there, you already have a lovely partner for chocolate and raisins. Ghost Brewing’s iteration is then aged on cocoa nibs and three different kinds of cherries, creating a cherry cola finish that links up with Raisinets’ dark, dried, chewy fruit like a dream.