DULUTH — Greetings, happy early winter and Happy Halloween to you all.

The COVID-19 virus will change how we celebrate the holiday this year. I always look forward to Halloween because it’s the gateway to the winter holiday season, which tends to be my favorite time of year.

This year, I encourage folks who enjoy Halloween to maybe tune in to one of the many, many scary movie marathons on TV with a nice bowl of popcorn and a beer or soft drink of your choosing. I know that’s what I’m going to do in front of a nice fire.

I’m loving all the very impressively decorated houses in my neighborhood. It feels like folks are going all-out this year on the decorating, as it’s a fun way to stay safe while still celebrating. I’m not going to name names, but you know who you are — just outstanding work.

The beers that are available this time of the year include the traditional pumpkin and harvest beers, as well as the beginnings of the holiday beers. These are fun, seasonal beers, and I recommend trying a few out.

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If you have a bowl of Halloween candy at home, I have some ideas for beers that would go well with some old standards.

Red vines, Twizzlers: Fruit beers.

Skittles, Starburst: Fruity or hazy IPAs.

Tootsie Rolls, Milk Duds, Charleston Chews: Amber ale.

Candy bars: Porters and barrel aged stouts are nice with chocolate or caramel based bars.

Sour candies, lemon drops, sour gummies: Sour ales (These beers’ low pH numbers accentuate the sour notes of the candy.)

Malted Milk Balls: German Oktoberfest and dark wheat ales.

Bubblegum: Light wheat beer or Belgian style white beer.

Caramel corn or popcorn: Pumpkin beers.

Peanut M&M’s: Brown ale or Irish stout.

Butterfinger: Imperial stout or porter.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup: Peanut butter porter.

I typically suggest some beers to bring to the adult costume parties, but this year, I will pivot and mention a few beers that taste like candy for your stay-at-home enjoyment.

Lambic and sour ales feature fruits such as apple, cherry, raspberry, strawberry and sport the candy-like flavors of Skittles and Sour Patch candy.

Other options include cookie dough beers, salted nut roll beer, milk chocolate stout, coconut porter, banana bread ale and vanilla stout.

And now a story

Last year I shared a spooky Halloween story based on beer. So, I thought I’d try another one this year.

Currently, both men and women work in our industry brewing beer. But in the early days, women did all the brewing.

In the town of St. Augustine, Florida, in the year 1565, a woman named Hazel O’Reilly was known as a medicine woman who used herbs and secret potions to help people with aliments and other issues such as sleeping or stomach pain. She also brewed a medicinal beer that she encouraged people to try, as it would fix any ailment they had.

What the villagers did not know was that she used ground apple seeds, castor oil, snake venom and death cap mushrooms in her “medicinal” beer. After drinking this beer, the imbiber would have immediate euphoric feelings and then, after about 10 minutes, death would befall them in a very painful fashion.

Her drink became known as Hazelwater, and after the townspeople got together in a mob to burn down her brewery, she escaped after pouring all the Hazelwater in the town well. Hundreds died, and Hazel was never seen again.

A few years later, a kindly monk named Brother Stanislaus came upon the town. He was a brewer, as most monasteries had their own breweries. They considered beer as liquid bread, and during fasting times, they would drink their “food.”

The monk brewed a special beer that was blessed. Soon after the poisoned well was filled and a new well was dug, he added some of his hallowed beer into the well. The beer was called Stachbier, and after drinking from the well, no one ever died before the age of 100 years.

Cheers to Halloween!

If you have your own scary stories about beer, send them along; I’d love to read them.

Dave Hoops
Dave Hoops

Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge. Contact him at dave@hoopsbrewing.com.