Happy (almost) Halloween everyone! I owe you a big apology as being a new mother has caused me to fall off the map for a few months! I’ve been blessed with a little girl, and as amazing as the last year has been awaiting her arrival and getting accustomed to life as a stay-at-home mom, I’ve missed you all and truly being able to immerse myself into the wonderful world of craft beer! The fortunate thing is that since I’ve returned to the scene, I’ve been so lucky to try a number of new beers, and luckily they have all been the big and bold (my fave!) So just in time for Halloween, I’ve put together a few that I’ve tasted that are just perfect for your seasonal festivities and heck yes, some even pair well with candy and sweets!
For as long as I can remember I’ve always had an appreciation for what I like to call ‘statement’ beers. These are craft beers that are of a certain style and the brewer has taken it to a whole new level adding even bigger, bolder flavour profiles. I’m a huge fan of dopplebocks, stouts and porters so these are just the brews that I have to suggest for you today.
Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche out of Bamberg, Germany gave me the pleasure of trying one of their ‘Rauchbier’ brews. Though this beer is brewed similar to tradition, the brewer has swapped out beech wood for oak. For those of you unfamiliar with this style, it is a traditional German style beer and is the method of adding smoke to the beer by drying malt over an open flame. This is an ancient style of brewing beer that goes way back to as early as first century BC. This method creates a flavour profile that is not for the faint at heart, as the final product is complex and aromatic with lots of bold smokiness. Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche has been brewing this style beer for nearly two centuries now and this experience shows upon one sip of their beer. I tried their Dopplebock Rauchbier in particular. For those of you that know me well, Dopplebock is my all time favourite style, so this combination was a delight to try. I really enjoyed the balance of the smokiness from the Oak Smoke Malt and the bitterness of Hallertau hop. There was a nice hint of caramel in the finish which minimized an overpowering smoke bitterness. At 8% and with the boldness that this beer offers, the .5 L bottle is suffice for one person to indulge in or perfect when treating a friend to half. I tried this one with roasted pumpkin seeds and a mini Cadbury Crunchie chocolate bar. The chocolate bar really brought out the caramel notes and enhanced the toasted flavour in the pumpkin seeds. I’m really ready for the trick or treaters now with this pairing. If you’re looking for a dinner pairing, this one’s great with ribs or any bbq or smoked meats.
Stout with a kick
This next one, brewed by Big Rock is a treat, as all of Paul Gautreau’s renditions are. This brewmaster has a way with taking an already delicious style beer and making it better! I’m no plain jane, and I certainly don’t like my beers as such. The vast variety and possibility for experimentation with craft beer is why I’ve fallen in love with it. In Big Rock’s latest mix pack ‘Barn Burner’ there are two new limited edition brews featured; Steel Cut Oatmeal Raisin Stout and Thresher Wheat Lager. Since we’re going BIG today I’d like to share with you all that there is to love about the stout. This is a must try stout for a true craft beer lover and is nothing short of big flavour but with all the potential of being a session beer at 5.5%. This unique stout is brewed with oats, a multitude of malt and Nelson Sauvin and East Kent Golding hops. This is not to be mistaken with the flavour of your grandma’s oatmeal raisin cookies! The hints of raisin or dried fruit notes envelope your taste buds ever so slightly, bringing the rich maltiness to the forefront and leaving you with just a pinch of bitterness from the hop. The oats do a wonderful job of creating a creamy, velvety smooth texture. All these lovely characteristics will be sure to leave you even more satisfied than taking a bite out of your grandma’s fresh-baked goods (don’t tell her though!) Pair this up with a bbq glazed chicken thigh and roasted potatoes topped with caramelized onions.
This next one is of a style that is my next best friend to Dopplebocks, specifically because of the body and that they are a sipping beer with the high alcohol content. Lil’ B Porter by Evil Twin Brewing packs a punch, and is a great beer to have along side dark chocolate, so naturally I’m a fan. This beer is so full-bodied and bold, I challenge you to find another one with as much rich fruitiness and creamy mouthfeel. There is chocolate and slight coffee on the nose with a slight bitterness and equal sweetness of dried raisins and black cherries in the finish. It is nicely balanced and silky smooth at a dangerous 11.5%. Pair Lil’ B with dark chocolate all the way!
Enjoy these bold gems for your Halloween festivities this weekend!