Long-held to be associated with the Pagan Autumn Festival or Harvest Home, Halloween is a holiday on which superstition and role-playing cooperate for the purpose of acquiring confections from charitable neighbors. Obviously, the previous statement is an exaggeration of a holiday where people dress-up, knock on doors while asking for candy, or (in the case of adults) an opportunity to go out and drink with friends and strangers. But have you ever considered what candy complements that beer in your hand?
So what's a food pairing?
It's no secret that people love a good beverage when munching on microwave hot pockets, oven-baked frozen pizza or a stovetop-cooked bowl of mac'n'cheese. The tradition matures when eating out, whether it's at a football game consuming a beef hot dog, or while sitting down with an expensive-cut of steak. Often times the assumption is, especially with elevated meals (e.g. steak, pasta, or seafood) that a glass of wine beats a pint of beer or cider hands-down. But prevailing stereotypes are slowly being deformed, adapting to the plethora of styles beer ferments into. Recognizing this, both casual imbibers and brewers have written guides to pairing beer with food.
Without getting lost in the weeds, let's just say that a $65 cut of Wagyu Beef can be paired with either an Amber Ale or Belgian (e.g. Triple, Dubbel, Quadrupel), while an India Pale Ale works well with fermented vegetables (e.g. Kimchi or Sauerkraut). And before you pose the question we can confirm a barleywine will pair nicely with a plate of chocolate or a slice of chocolate cake. Mind you these are only loose suggestions and may fail to address the nuances of your individual recipes. There is something traditional about complementing the beautifully-marbled steak or dessert with the proper beer, but have you considered what beer goes with Halloween candy?
Inspired by a brewery's courage to speak up, we contacted some breweries in the Pacific Northwest and asked them to suggest some food pairings with everyone's favorite Halloween confections.
Apparently, the question has few answers. So allow us to contribute to the conversation with a few suggestions.
Suggested pairings (with notes from the brewery, if supplied)
Start with something sugary
Skittles. "Skittles are small chewy candies in a package of original fruit flavors which are grape, green apple, lemon, orange and strawberry." -OldTimeCandy.com
- Pike Place Ale.
- Deschutes Pacific Wonderland Lager. "... all flavors of Skittles were tasty, but it’s worth the effort of picking out just the yellow pieces as it compliments the citrus flavors in this beer very well" -Deschutes Brewery sensory program
- Crux Fermentation Project's Gimme Mo
Starburst. "Starburst candies are packed with a variety of great tasting fruit flavors and a deliciously chewy texture, to be enjoyed anytime and anywhere." -Wrigley Company
- Reuben's Crush Series. "... the bright fruit notes of the candy complement the fruit forward hop profile of the Crush series" -Adam Robbings, co-owner Reuben's Brews
- Stoup Mosaic Pale "... Mosaic hops are so named because they can conjure up a wide variety of fruit aromas. Mosaic Pale's fruit forward aroma would pair nicely with a fruity Starburst medley." -Robyn Schumacher, brewer & co-owner Stoup Brewing
Lemonheads. "Lemonhead is the original lemon candy with a sweet and sour shell. This yellow favorite was first picked off the candy tree in 1962 and has been satisfying sweet tooths ever since. " -Ferrara Candy Company
- Reuben's Gose. "Complimenting sour and lemon notes of the beer and the candy!" -Adam Robbings, co-owner Reuben's Brews
Sour Patch Kids.
- Crux Fermentation Project's Gimme Mo.
Haribo Gummy Bears. "There’s no better companion than our original HARIBO GOLD-BEARS®, the delicious treat loved around the world by young and old alike. With the five chewy and fruity flavors lemon, orange, pineapple, raspberry and strawberry HARIBO GOLD-BEARS® have been making mouths happy, creating golden moments of joy and pleasure and adding color to our lives for over 90 years." - -Haribo
- Stoup Citra IPA. "... our Citra IPA is bursting with citrus aromas and flavors, just like Haribo gummy bears which are, let's face it, the only gummy bears worth spending money on." -Robyn Schumacher, brewer & co-owner Stoup Brewing
Gummi Worms *preferrably pineapple-flavored.
- Alesong Touch of Brett Mosaic Brett Farmhouse ale dry hopped with Mosaic. "... The tropical brett and hop flavors are a good match with the faux pineapple flavoring in this wiggler." -Matt Van Wyk, founder/head brewer at Alesong Brewing & Blending
Bit-O-Honey. "Since 1924, Bit-O-Honey has been made from taffy flavored with real honey. It’s the same great taste that you’ve grown to love—unless you’ve never tried it before" -Pearson's Candy
- Alesong Oregon Honey Farmhouse Ale with Wildflower Honey. " ,,, Honey, and well... honey. Duh. Complements." -Matt Van Wyk, founder/head brewer at Alesong Brewing & Blending
From sweet to chocolate
Kit Kat. "The delicious four finger combination of smooth milk chocolate and light, crispy wafers." -Hershey's
- Stoup Russian Imperial Stout "The malty sweetness of our Imperial Stout would compliment both the milk chocolate and toasted cookie inside. Roasted notes in the Stout would contrast nicely for a perfect pairing. " -Robyn Schumacher, brewer & co-owner Stoup Brewing
Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate. "Dark chocolate lovers will feel extra special when they receive this giant HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Mildly Sweet Chocolate Bar as a gift on any occasion!" -Hereshey's
- Stoup Porter. " ... our Porter has a light malt sweetness, with notes of coffee and chocolate. Instead of passing on the less appreciated version of Hershey's chocolate (milk chocolate gets all the love), try it with a Stoup Porter. You'll be swept off your feet. Real Cinderella story right there." -Robyn Schumacher, brewer & co-owner Stoup Brewing
Or add some nuts to it
Almond Rocha. "Classic ALMOND ROCA® Buttercrunch combines premium California almonds and pure vanilla with fresh local butter and our Signature Blend of cocoa beans for an irresistible taste sensation of buttery goodness." -Brown & Haley
- Alesong Mocha Rhino Suit. "Mocha rhymes with Roca." -Matt Van Wyk, founder/head brewer at Alesong Brewing & Blending
Butterfinger. "... is a unique combination of crispety, crunchety, peanut-buttery taste and texture. ... Freshly roasted peanuts are chopped and made into a creamy peanut butter that is blended with a sugar candy. This unique substance is kneaded, rolled, cut and covered in a chocolatey coating." -Nestle USA
- Crux Fermentation Project PCT Porter
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, 2 peanut butter cups in milk chocolate." -OldTimeCandy.com
- Reuben's Milk Stout. "Peanut butter and milk chocolate, a perfect compliment!" -Adam Robbings, co-owner Reuben's Brews
- Pike Organic Double Oatmeal Stout.
- Crux Fermentation Project's Crux Stout
Chick O'Sticks. "This satisfying Chick-O-Stick is a little salty, a little sweet and a lot crunchy! Made with our famous peanut butter and toasted coconut each flaky bite is savory delicious." -Atkinson Candy
- Stoup ESB "... both are toasty and nutty and sweet and delicous" -Robyn Schumacher, brewer & co-owner Stoup Brewing
Now try something with caramel instead
Cadbury Caramello. "... bars are made with our famously rich and creamy milk chocolate and filled with a deliciously smooth caramel center." -The Hershey Company
- Alesong Kind of Blue- Belgian Ale aged in French Oak with Blueberries "The firm acidity cuts through the richness of the the caramel and provides a fruity balance for the creamy chocolate." -Matt Van Wyk, founder/head brewer at Alesong Brewing & Blending
Twix. "With its delicious butter cookie center, topped with caramel, and coated with milk chocolate, the Twix candy bar quickly became a popular treat around the world" -OldTimeCandy.com
- Crux Fermentation Project PCT Porter
Milky Way. "Milky Way candy bars are made with rich chocolate, creamy caramel and smooth nougat. The Milky Way Midnight is the new name for the Forever Yours bar. " -OldTimeCandy.com
- Reuben's Brews Roasted Rye "... the caramel in the candy complements the fuller body and caramel in the Roasted Rye, the bitterness of the Roasted Rye helps cut the sweetness of the candy." -Adam Robbings, co-owner Reuben's Brews
- Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA. "the caramel balanced the citrus hop flavor perfectly" -Deschutes Brewery sensory program
How about some coconut?
Mounds. "Mounds are coconut candy bars covered in dark chocolate."
- Black Raven Coco Jones Coconut Porter.
York Peppermint Pattie. "The perfect way to end a meal. Bite into the refreshing sensation of cool peppermint and rich, dark chocolate. " -The Hershey Company
- Reuben's Robust Porter "Accenting the chocolate and roast of the porter with bright peppermint, just like our Reubens Claus, a December beer release!" -Adam Robbings, co-owner Reuben's Brews
Junior Mints. "When your sweet tooth demands both the rich taste of dark chocolate and the cool, fresh flavor of peppermint, there's no need to choose: reach for Junior Mints, America's favorite chocolate covered creamy mint since its introduction in 1949. " -Tootsie
- Crux Fermentation Project's Crux Stout
Untested but might work!
- Pike Space Needle Golden IPA
Thanks to all the breweries contacted that took time to share their suggestions on enjoying some halloween confection with pint (or two).
Special thanks to Deschutes Brewery for publishing their suggestions on pairing Halloween candy with their beers. (source, https://www.deschutesbrewery.com/a-ghoul-icious-pairing-halloween-candy-beer/)