It’s Halloween, arguably the sweetest time of the year around here! It’s time for Goblin Green Key Lime Pie, Dead Velvet Cake, and Spider Web Macaroons … and more! Sugar Island Bakery’s Halloween menu is up! Just in time for all the Fall Festivals, Halloween Parties, and/or (insert holiday themed celebration). We celebrated a little early this year at our “Bonfire Bonanza with Friends,” with all the requisite deserts and accompanying malt beverages. So, in the spirit of the holiday, this blog post is going to be presented like a grab bag of Halloween candy! Lots of different flavors and pairings to try.
Some might ask, “Beer, with such an abundance of good sweets? Surely, that is too much?” To this silly question, I say “No.” and “It is most certainly not.” Not when you are selecting the appropriate beverage to complement your treat. Choosing a beer that helps highlight certain flavors or create new ones to enjoy is always a good idea.
Take our key lime pie, for instance. IPA’s with nice tropical aromas and flavors pair very well with key lime pie and can create flavors you just don’t get from them individually. Wicked Weed Brewing’s (Asheville, NC) Pernicious IPA, with its wonderful tropical hop aroma, is my favorite example of this complementary type of pairing. But you also wouldn’t go wrong with Fullsteam Brewery’s (Durham, NC) Rocket Science IPA, which is more of a classic American IPA with higher IBUs that contrast nicely with the pie’s sweetness.
I’m also excited to announce, new in the shop this week is Olde Hickory Brewery’s (Hickory, NC) Event Horizon Imperial Stout! Event Horizon is consistently one of the top rated NC beers on Beer Advocate (take what you will from such ratings and rankings, but to hold a top spot for such a long time is no mean feat. On a side note, you will also find several of Wicked Weed’s offerings including Pernicious IPA in the same Top 10.) Event Horizon is a barrel aged Imperial Stout with a ton of complexity and flavor that belies the low (for style) ABV of 8.5%. This is the perfect accompaniment for any dark chocolate treat. Looking for something to paint up with a less intense chocolate? Try Blowing Rock Brewing Co. (Blowing Rock, NC) Big Chocoalte Porter.
And, of course, there’s sweet potato lager, the down South alternative to all the pumpkin. One of the most interesting Fall beers I’ve come across this season is Carver Sweet Potato Lager, also from Fullsteam. Think refreshing Marzen with a subtle earthy sweetness from the sweet potato addition. As Fullsteam says, “200 pounds of sweet potatoes, zero ounces of pie spice.” Looking for a more classic Oktoberfest, come by and try the offerings from Blowing Rock or Blue Mountain Brewery (Afton, VA).
Please understand, I am not deriding pumpkin in any way. I love pumpkin, but mostly in baked goods… pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin biscotti, pumpkin chocolate muffins, pumpkin whoopies….. And what do we have in store beer wise for all that pumpkin? May I suggest St. Benedicts Breakfast Dubbel from Haw River Farmhouse Ales (Saxapahaw, NC); a smooth, dark Belgian ale whose coffee notes and Belgian spices do quite well with the flavors of Fall treats like pumpkin pie. I also found this beer sings a nice little harmony with a good single origin dark chocolate or Sugar Island’s annual release of our very own Stout Bread!
So, don’t let the kids get all the treats this year. Try some of these pairings or mix and match your own. The important thing is to have fun with all the different flavors of Fall!