Dr. Terror likes the beers. Mrs. Terror despises that I smell like a brewery through the entire autumn season due to several important products of which you may not be aware, horror fans. The veil truly does fall between the worlds on Samhainbut so does the world between beer and film and beer and Halloween. Maybe it's that football season is in full swing and beer is a necessity? Maybe it's that the candy fermenting in my pillow case from last year's trick or treating is ripe? But truly the brewers come out in autumn to give us a special treat. Harvest season makes for all kinds of great brews and here are just a few that we see on the East Coast (still chasing that damn Mustang Harvest beer from Oklahoma... winds... plains... fuck!).
Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale is by far my favorite of the seasonal brews this year and was a very close second last year. Evenly spiced with just the right amount of bite to get your fright on. This beer isn't overly hopped. You'll be able to enjoy this if your a marathon beer-er or the casual beer slut. The packaging will reel you in with the tribute to the Sleephollow Headless Horseman logo. The doctor strongly suggests pairing this spicy selection with Hammer horror on Friday nights on TCM. Won't get you too drunk, so you'll make it through all four movies.
Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale is a bold beer. Like BOLD (in bold type no less). 8.0% alcohol will knock you on your ass if you drink too many, and that's probably why they sell these in four packs. Lots of sugar to keep you awake, but if you're not careful you won't make it to your fourth movie. This beer goes great with shorter horror marathons. Watch some gory, new age horror (read torture porn for you prudes). Hostel would be perfect. Two movies... a whole lotta beer. I stress that this label has almost forced me to the Tattoo artist's chair more than once. Hilarious! They've also got a Harvest Hop beer that will blow your mind. More Hops than your Head has room for. They're Autumn ale is just delightful. Beware their Insanity and Heresey brews. Very potent. Should be marked with a skull and cross bones. Thank god they usually emerge closer the winter months.
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale always has the right stuff. High alcohol content at 7.0% but great flavor too. This one won't beat you up like the Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale, but will definitely get you through your favorite anthology based horror flicks. Go grab yourself Trick R' Treat, Creepshow (one and two fools), Tales from the Crypt (the Amicus original or die) and Tales from the Darkside: the Movie. You'll thank me for this recommendation. The high sugar contents of the Punkin Ale and the Imperial Pumpkin Ale warrant a very firm, disciplined hand. Switch to an Oktoberfest brew somewhere in the second movie or face a splitting hangover (not unlike a Champagne hangover... remember I'm a doctor.. of something).
Long Trail Harvest is always a nice even keel brown ale. This year they seemed to leave the sugar out the door which gives you something like a Newcastle (which of course is a brown ale). It's underseasoned, but makes for a good "graveyard shift" beer as it has got far less sugar and alcohol than Dogfish Head or Weyerbacher. The Long Trail Harvest beer is a perfect mix for a mid day Stephen King marathon. Go pick up Cat's Eye, Maximum Overdrive, Children of the Corn, The Shining and Cujo. Salem's Lot is a must. The classic Long Trail "Bear" icon packaging will make you feel warm on crisp Autumn nights.
Magic Hat Hex is a everything a Magic Hat drinker expects from Magic Hat. Sweet, rich with flavor... almost overly flavored and thick. This stuff is more a meal in a bottle than Guinness is a meal in a can. You'll be full before you know it and if you're not careful you'll have the hangover you always feared. Still a great beer with great packaging (dark and Gothic... paint your nails black and listen to some Bauhaus for this brew). Magic Hat puts out any number of other beers that fit the season (Circus Boy, #9 etc.) They'll work for a Halloween party and are readily available. And yes, the put out their Autumn/Halloween variety pack as the Night of the Living Dead pack. Classic ghoul shit with excellent packaging.
Saranac Pumpkin is incredible as always. This is the longest running favorite. Never a bad year although this year felt like there was a bit more vanilla in the seasoning. Also up there for amazing packaging (almost tattooed this one on me as well and still might). Classic Halloween beer. Perfect for walking around on All Hallows Eve just don't get caught with the open container. I recommend this for pumpkin picking and outside decorating on a windy day or even good for raking up the leaves. Finish off with a shot of Bourbon. You'll thank me later.
Then we come to Harpoon... I must admit that I am biased, but these guys have got any number of great beers that fit the Holiday season. Their Oktoberfest is Dr. Terror's favorite seasonal alongside Shipyard's Pumpkinhead Ale this year. It's not harvesty, but has the appropriate portioning of hops and Marzen style to get you through your Bratwurst or through a blood-fest. In addition to the delightful Oktoberfest brew they also have their Glacier Harvest '10 Wet Hop Ale #33. This beer can get your through a night with the living dead for certain. It's got 6.7% alcohol, plenty of hops and is part of their infamous 100 barrel series (this series beats out any other small batch in my opinion). They also have a Hefeweizen UFO beer (Un-Filtered Offering folks). This last one is a true marathon beer. It's gotten me through all my favorite Lenzi flicks and a few Romero's too. Think Zombie movies with these label. The oktoberfest is classic, the Glacier Harvest will get you through the hardcore flesh biting scenes and the UFO will make you think Plan 9 from Outer Space truly was the best movie ever made. Grave robbers beware! Don't forget their very big Leviathan brews for your Rubber Suit Monster movies or Godzilla Marathons.
Beers to avoid like the plague (If I catch you drinking these I'll send the Pumpkin creature from the Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale package to turn you into Human Beer). Harvest Moon by Blue Moon: Trash beer... typically big label trying to move in on the little guy. Wolaver's Pumpkin Beer: Ewww. Organic Beer never pissed me off so much. I can't get my money back, but you can save your pennies on this one. Expensive and disgusting.
Beers that get honorable mention: I'm not really writing an Oktoberfest article here, but let's touch on some of the greats. Sam Adams always make a good a seasonal if you want a more mainstream craft beer (if you can call it a craft beer any more). It's delicious. Someone told me they make a pumpkin/harvest brew but I've yet to see it. Probably keep it locked up in Boston for the Pennant runs when the Red Sox have a chance. :sigh: Spaten, Hacker Pschor, Hofbrau, Paulaner... they'll keep you warm and happy. You can drink 'em and drink 'em and drink 'em and they never get any smaller... at least I don't think they do... few more tests. Also, and this is no joke... get on the Brooklyn bandwagon. These guys put out a damn good Oktoberfest beer. Nice traditional packaging and a pleasure, just a real pleasure. This is the Jimmy Stewart of autumn offerings. Lefthand and Flying Fish are good ones too (Oktoberfish beer... yummy). I previously mentioned Harpoon's Oktoberfest which clearly jumps the fence between Halloween, Autumn, Oktoberfest brews... it's versatile.
Most disappointing beer this season was Ottercreek's Oktoberfest. It was an incredibly balanced beer that I strongly recommend to you crafty craft beer-ers,but this was in no way comparable to their autumn offering last year (which beat our Shipyard last year...the only one that could do it). Yummy in the tummy, but get back to the Harvest and leave Oktoberfest up to the Germans and Faux-Germans.
Can't find one of these? Check the Internet. You can get 'em shipped around the country if you find the right distributor. You'll thank me (but maybe not for the hangover or the increase in your waistline). I've got a couple more to try so I may post a few updates on this list, but this should tackle the majority of brews to get your boogy on.
-Dr. :hiccup: Terror...
:insert your favorite moral about drinking too much in a horror film here:
-Shipyard's Hilarous Promo Video
-Magic Hat's Awesome Halloween Site
-Harpoon Brewery: The Best of 2010
-Long Trail: Respect the Bear and Tame the Beer
-Your Weyerbacher Mainline