Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Beer & Candy: A Primer for Adult Halloween
When I attended my first beer pairing dinner years ago I couldn't have fathomed or foreseen the type of pairings I've been up to lately - cookies, cereal and most recently, candy. My interest in this latest foray was sparked when I read an article from Cicerone Michael Agnew. With Halloween coming up 'tis the season for candy and even people who aren't big candy fans (NOT me!) will probably end up with some excess candy at home or at the office.
The pairings were a fun experiment and overall there were quite a few that worked. Those included the first and most surprising one of the evening - candy corn and ESB. While the article specifically mentioned Fuller's ESB, and it was in stock at The BeerMongers, we opted to go for a Northwest ESB. Crystal Bitter from No-Li Brewhouse is a beer we've had before and really enjoyed and just like Michael said it would, it was delicious!
Another area that went well was the chocolate category. Kit Kats bars, recommended to pair with a bourbon barrel-aged brown, we found to go very nicely with Old Schoolhouse Hooligan Stout. For the Milky Way we went for a higher alcohol beer than the porter or stout called for. Southern Tier Creme Brulee Imperial Milk Stout was a beer we'd all had before and knew to be decadent on its own. The nougat in the Milky Way helped to balance the over-the-topness of the beer nicely. What worked even better and was a crowd favorite was the pairing of Creme Brulee with Snickers. Unsurprisingly it was quite a decadent pairing.
The final chocolate candy pairing sounded a bit odd but since we were all Reese's peanut butter cups fans we were game to try it with Lindemans Framboise. According to the article it would be "like eating a PB&J on chocolate bread" and it was! If you're a Reese's fan, seriously, pick up a bottle of this and have them together (oh, and it's great with an Almond Joy, too).
To save you some disappointment in case you decide to do some beer and candy pairing, too, I'll share a couple things that we found did not work. 1) Initially I had grabbed a bottle of The Commons Bier Royale, a lovely fruit sour, to try as the "J" in the PB&J pairing. It's a great beer but it didn't have enough liquid jellyness to make the magic happen. 2) We had two sour candies - Sweet Tarts and Jolly Rancher sour bites - and with the Biere Royale the Sweet Tarts became quite fizzy in the mouth. The Jolly Ranchers worked slightly better but in the future I'd enjoy my sour candies separately from my beer.
If you find yourself having candy and beer, intentionally or unintentionally, I'd love to hear if what winners you come across.