All Hallows Eve is looming before us. Soon the bloodthirsty creatures of the Underworld will rise from the depths, cackling and…I’m sorry, hold on a sec. My kid is grunting on the toilet like she’s trying to pass a fire truck out of her colon.
That incident really exemplifies the problem with this sort of article. I’m trying to set a mood that is mysterious and spooky (if not altogether ooky) to celebrate our annual dalliance with paganism, but I have no way of controlling the surroundings you’re in. You could be distracted by a loud coworker or a child whining about not eating in days or some such nonsense. Hell, given the website you’re at, the good money says that most of you don’t even have pants on right now. How can I possibly ensure you’re caught up in the Halloween spirit enough to appreciate today’s beer selections?
To fully appreciate today’s theme of “Vaguely Spooky, If Not Assuredly Haunted, Beers”, I have a couple suggestions. If possible, dim the the lights. Those of you with their pants off probably already have that one locked. To set some theme music, open this link in a separate browser tab. Turn the music down by about half so it’s more atmospheric than obnoxious. If that’s not scary enough for you, try this. It may not sound terrifying in any conventional sense, at least not until you imagine this beast heaving his sweaty carcass atop your person:
Deschutes Brewery- Hop in the Dark (6.5% ABV)
I love how this beer label manages to paint a vaguely menacing scene without any gore whatsoever. The dilapidated sign, presumably freshly painted with the blood of the last poor schmuck to wander by, is the only sign of humanity in a vast, remote forest. I wouldn’t be surprised if it read “Welcome To Camp Murder!” or “If You Can Read This, You’re Already Treading On An Indian Burial Ground And Pretty Much Have To Die A Horrific Death”. Or if you’ve had the misfortune to watch “Deliverance”, this is probably all you’re seeing right now:
This “Cascadian Dark Ale” is a completely opaque cola-colored brew with a THICK, frothy tan head. The nose is rich with floral aromas and roasty notes. Oh, wait…this was supposed to be scary. It has roasty notes OF DOOM.
I was immediately struck by how the mouthfeel of this beer manages to be creamy without being particularly heavy. The roasty aromas (of doom) manifest in a slightly off-putting carbon-heavy burnt flavor, but I’ll admit it gives the beer an appropriate earthy flavor as well. It’s hard to tell where the burnt flavor ends and the hop bitterness begins, but there are citrus and pine notes in the mix that are offset by a very mild toffee sweetness FROM HELL.
The name of this beer is perfectly on the nose. It’s a nicely rounded Black IPA experience with way more positive attributes than suspect ones.
Left Coast Brewing – Asylum (11% ABV)
I originally had a terribly clever series of jokes to make about how sobriety is like an asylum that only this beer can free you from. Then I noticed that the camera flash somehow manufactured a light-penis on the bottle. I figured that really deserved more attention. I didn’t even know camera flashes could be circumcised, so this is fascinating on multiple levels.
This hazy Belgian Tripel has a clover honey coloration and a nose sweet with passion fruit and apple juice. It’s reminiscent of that cloying juice box sweetness I recall from my childhood, but the outrageous belt of alcohol you get in the first sip obliterates that sense of innocence faster than a handsy uncle.
A taste of this beer promises imminent drunkeness like proms assure the assassination of virginity. It’s just too prominent and abrasive. There’s also peppery and pear-like notes, with a lingering wet-straw flavor in the mix, but they’re hard to distinguish with all the heat from the alcohol.
It has some complexity and is certainly full flavored, but this brew could stand some attenuation from top to bottom.
Brasserie Grain d’Orge – Belzebuth Blond Ale (13% ABV)
The Dark Lord is known by many names. Satan. Old Scratch. Lady Gaga. Biff Tannen. One of the oldest is Beelzebub, the name from which this beer is derived. This bottle could literally be a portal to the fiery maw of hell. If that’s not scary enough, consider that Belzebuth is also the name of a Folk/World Music group, which is the most wretched and unholy form of music ever created. I got chills just thinking about it.
Satan’s beer has a bright orange tint and a tiny eggshell head. Despite not having the consistency to form a significant head, it leaves blotches of foam lacing around the glass. The nose has a crisp sweetness to it, with some subtle honey and floral notes.
The first taste of this syrupy brew summons honey, some clove-like spices, and a grape-like sweetness. More importantly, it delivers the 13% alcohol (!!!!) with ease, warming the back of the palate and radiating that heat through the chest like a good whiskey. Unlike a good whiskey however, it didn’t tempt me to make tearful phonecalls to annoyed ex-girlfriends, so it’s really the best of both worlds.
This was a bit cidery for me, but still a unique beer that masks its appreciable alcohol pretty well.
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