Literary Beer Collection | Halloween Edition
I am excited to bring you a second edition of the Literary Beers series. Can we call it a series now that there is more than one? Meh, who is counting… I lost count long ago.
This edition of Literary Beers will focus on stories/brews that are centered around Halloween. I have scoured retail shelves and library catalogs to find you the most intriguing and haunting of literary brewing collaborations. So, light a candle and grab a pumpkin ale because this is about to get real!
First on the list of frightful beers is New Holland Brewing Company’s Ichabod pumpkin ale. This pumpkin ale is centered around the classic tale of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a short story written by Washington Irving in 1820. The story centers around an awkward and overwrought teacher named Ichabod Crane who moves to the town of Tarrytown, NY. Nearby, is a glen called Sleepy Hollow which is said to be cursed by a headless horseman who terrorizes travelers on his nightly quest to find his lost head. New Holland’s Ichabod is brewed with real pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon, giving it an authentic flavor and aroma. Surely, this will put you in the right mood for such a haunting thriller.
The next beer on the list sends us further north to the Canadian brewery, Unibroue. Maudite Strong Red ale features artwork based on Honore Beaugrand’s La Chasse–Galerie, also titled The Bewitched Canoe. This French–Canadian tale was written in 1892 and has several versions to the story. Most iterations agree that the main plot involves a group of voyagers who are done with the day’s labor and are eager to get home to their wives and loved ones to celebrate the coming new year. Home is too far away to make it by conventional means. There is an alternate route known as Chasse–Galerie, however it requires that the voyagers make a deal with the Devil in exchange for making their canoe fly. The Devil grants their wish with conditions which put the group in peril later in the tale. Thankfully, there is no need to make a deal with the Devil to taste Maudite. The amber-red ale has scents of citrus, cloves and other spices with a balance between heavy malt and bitter hops interlaced with spices. At 8% ABV, I suggest starting this one with page 1 and ending it with the final page of La Chasse–Galerie.
Next to venture from the darkness is Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Nosferatu. This one makes the list, not because it is a book, but a German film produced in 1922 that was, controversially, related to the classic novel by Bram Stoker, Dracula. The film’s production company never acquired rights to the character or story. Instead, they felt that a name change, slightly different location, and a few other different details would be enough to protect them and the film. They should have invested in a wooden stake, because Bram Stoker’s descendants took the company to court over plagiarism and infringement of rights shortly after the film aired. The Stoker family won the lawsuit and the presiding judge ordered the destruction of all copies of the film. However, one copy made it to the United States where Dracula was considered public domain, thus preserving the movie for later generations. Much like this cult classic, the Imperial Red ale from Great Lakes Brewing has a loyal following. It is another beer with a whopping 8% ABV but with a malt forward profile that is bolstered by Simcoe and Cascade hops that results in a 70 IBU.
Another tribute to film/book crossovers is Terrapin Beer Co.’s The Walking Dead. This is a recent addition to the breweries line up and a collaboration between Terrapin Beer Co. and The Walking Dead. Again, it makes the list because it has a written origin in The Walking Dead comic books, written by the highly acclaimed Robert Kirkman, that was later adapted for television (legally). The Walking Dead is a post-apocalyptic zombie story about a group of survivors who do their best to make it in this new world while, slowly, learning the origins of the zombies. Production of the television series is done in Atlanta, GA, only 70 miles from the Terrapin brewery in Athens, GA, and Terrapin brand beer, along with other Georgia based breweries can be spotted in various episodes. The beer is just as amazing as the series, which makes it fitting to be the official beer of The Walking Dead. A Blood Orange IPA brewed with 10 hop varieties and dried orange peel, it comes in at a mere 6.7% ABV and is a citrusy hop-filled addition to your bugout bag.
H.P. Lovecraft brings a lot of images to mind, but beer has not been one in the past. In recent years, Narragansett developed a honey ale that they named after the “The Father of Modern Horror”, H.P. Lovecraft Honey Ale. The nightmare inducing author is most associated with his horrific creation, the cthulhu. Narragansett finds an intrinsic connection to the author as both the brewery and H.P. Lovecraft were born in the same year, 1890. Both were also later revived, as the author did not find fame until after his death and Narragansett began brewing again only 10 years ago. Narragansett was closed in the 1980’s and its buildings destroyed in the 1990’s. It laid dormant, like the cthulhu beneath the sea, until it was bought and revived in the mid 2000’s. The brewery has nearly reclaimed its fame from its heydays in the early 1900s.
Last on the list is another appearance by The Lost Abbey Brewing who brew a Belgian Witbier titled Witch’s Wit. Witches have appeared in thousands of stories throughout time. They are among the oldest explanations for things society just didn’t understand. The Lost Abbey did not base this beer of any particular story or tale, but on a literary character known to us all. However, when I think of a witch burning at the stake, Agnes Nutter springs to mind. Agnes Nutter is a witch in one of my favorite books, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. In the novel, the main character recalls Agnes burning at the stake after being convicted of being a witch. He recounts the story of a sassy and arrogant woman, who really was a witch, and mocked the mob at her own burning at the stake before blowing up everyone within range of the 80 pounds of gunpowder and 40 pounds of roofing nails she had hidden under her dress. The beer is far less volatile as it is brewed with grapefruit zest, orange peel and coriander vice gunpowder and nails. It has a predominantly wheat flavor with accents of spices and subtle fruit notes and rings in at a meager 4.8% ABV.
I love finding connections between two wonderful artforms, beer and literature. Both tell an enthralling story that is unique to them and give greater depth to what is in your hand. There are plenty of great beers that are not on this list, but have unique ties to Halloween stories and other literature. Talk about some of your favorites in the comments below and you might find them included in next year’s Halloween edition of literary beers!
Thank you to the New Holland Brewing Co., Unibroue, Great Lakes Brewing Co., Terrapin Beer Co., Narragansett, and The Lost Abbey for brewing these libations and providing access to the labels you see here.