While many bank holiday weekends throughout the year are all about going away, October’s Halloween special is a great time to go to town and have fun doing things a little bit differently. While the holiday’s eerie history tells the tale of a night of supernatural occurrances, the most popular ways to mark the occasion are quite earthly: eating and drinking, fancy dress optional but highly encouraged!
The brews we enjoy the most in this spooky season are not the ones that come from a cauldron, but those hoppy potions that offer us a parade of styles as colourful and varied as the miryad of treats we can accompany them with.
Beers and Sweets Pairing
Pairing drinks with treats and desserts can be challenging as you want something that stands its ground without becoming a ghost among the sugar in your palate, but not so pronounced that will diminish your enjoyment of the other flavours.
Below, you’ll find a quick guide to pairing beers and sweets, including some of our favourite seasonal baked goods, chocolates and iconic Halloween candy.
This creamy staple of autumn is rich, nutty and mellow, with soft flavours and a texture of pleasant contrasts between the crust and the smooth filling. While going for a pumpkin beer is tempting, it might be a little bit too much. Avoid squash overkill by choosing a beer that complements instead of one that competes with the dessert.
TRY IT WITH
Mountain Man Hairy Goat IPA
€4.20 – Available at Martin’s Off Licence, full list of stockists here
West Cork’s first craft brewery signs this gentle IPA that doesn’t run to the hoppy extremes and provides just the right amount of bitterness.
Let its orange and passion fruit notes add some zest to the pumpkin’s mellowness, and enjoy the beer’s refreshing acidity as it washes your palate leaving it ready for the next spoonful.
There is a beer for every chocolate out there but with so many options, a good place to start is to look at two important elements: how dark is our chocolate? Does it have any added filling or ingredient?
For example, a smooth and sweet milk chocolate bar (think a creamy Cadbury Dairy Milk) will be at its best with a well rounded stout that is not too alcoholic. You’ll want something creamy and malty, with a delicate bitter touch to contrast with the chocolate’s sweetness.
A dark chocolate bar can be accompanied by a Belgian Dubbel beer as its roasted notes and malty character will enhance the stronger cocoa flavour while having enough intensity not to disappear. For very dark chocolates (for example, Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa), a strong, barrel aged stout or even a barely wine could also work.
TRY IT WITH
O’Hara’s Irish Stout
€3.40 – Widely available at Irish retailers
Dry and malty, this balanced stout has a full bodied texture but a relatively low ABV, providing the best of both worlds to enhance the chocolate without overshadowing it.
Its espresso and toast flavours and its velvety mouthfeel merge with the chocolate on your palate for a double treat.
We can’t talk about Halloween sweets without giving a nod to this tri-coloured North American classic. A very distant cousin to the marshmallow, this kernel-shaped candy doesn’t taste like corn at all, intead, it is syrupy and with a vague hint of vanilla. Provide some contrast and keep your palate from sweetness overload with a refreshing beer with some zest.
TRY IT WITH
Open Gate Citra IPA
€3.25 – Available at Tesco
Juicy and hoppy, this Irish-made but American-inspired IPA will refresh your palate and create a tasty tension between the caramelly treat and the citrusy notes in your glass.
It combines Citra, Centennial, and Cascade hops into a blend of fruity flavours (think oranges and ripe lemons) with a subtle floral hint.
This world-famous sweet combines three layers of indulgence: an external coating of candy, a creamy milk chocolate interior and a toasted peanut heart. With all that’s going on each nibble, you are better off with a beer that happily plays a supporting role. Lagers and blonde or pale ales will succeed at this task, as they cut through the sweetness of the candy and add a citrusy note to complement the toasted nuttiness of the peanut.
TRY IT WITH
Rockshore Irish Lager
€2.29 – Available at Tesco, SuperValu
This refreshing Irish lager is light bodied and has a balanced taste. It is not too hoppy and it offers delicate notes of citrus fruit and a malty background.
Let its crisp and mild palate wash the sweetness away, while
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.