Scary pairings: Local beers + Halloween candy

By on October 21, 2015

The chill is definitely in the air and houses are looking spooky with decorations for Halloween. I love candy. Halloween is this daddy’s chance to revel in the children’s spoils. So, in preparation of the massive amount of loot my kids will bring home on Trick-or-Treat night, I thought it might be fun to pair a few beers with candy.

The easiest beer style to pair is stout. The dark, often rich brew tends to be heavy with malted and roasted flavors, making it perfect to pair with chocolates. As stout and porters tend to be simple — i.e. less complex in flavors — I picked a simple candy staple: M&M’s. I went with the original chocolate kind, but any flavor will work, even the coconut and pretzel varieties. I would, though, stay away from the candy apple flavor …yes, there are candy apple M&M’s! Since I went simple with the candy I went big with the beer, literally. I tapped into a growler full of Spring House Brewing Company’s Big Gruesome. I definitely overloaded the chocolate with this chocolate peanut butter stout, but it was fun. Any stout will pair nicely with chocolate.

While I was on the chocolate kick, I headed over to The Green Dragon looking to score some yummies from Beulah’s Candyland. They sell Asher’s Chocolates, some of my favorites. There was a run on sea salt coated, chocolate-covered vanilla caramels, but I managed to get my hands on both the dark and milk chocolate varieties. The dark ones headed with me to St. Boniface Craft Brewing where they paired perfectly with the brewery’s latest Offering #24, a Belgian Dubbel. The rich, malty sweetness of this traditional style beer worked amazingly well with the sea salt caramels. Now, I know it is unlikely the kids will be bringing back Asher’s in their bags next Friday, but I couldn’t write about chocolate without mentioning them.

While at Buelah’s, I picked up a bag of fall themed gummy worms and bears. I knew exactly what to pair with these … a wheat beer. Full of fruity esters, wheat beers often carry their own sweetness and can be easily complimented with citrus fruits, just ask any fan of wheat beers if they want an orange slice for their drink. During a trip into The Fridge in Lancaster I found an Apricot Wheat from Otto’s Pub & Brewery in State College. It was a perfect match. Now, gummies aren’t my favorite candy (that is black licorice), so I traded them to my kids for futures on their Halloween stash.

Their stash is sure to include candy corn. I just happened to be in Lititz with a handful of candy corn recently, so I stopped in at JoBoy’s to pair the seasonal treats with their Lititz Springs Lager. This pairing is where things get a little scientific. I recently read about diacetyl in brewing and how this organic compound adds a buttery flavor to many domestic brews. Even though most lagers contain diacetyl, I’m not sure if it is present in Lititz Springs Lager, but I do know it is found in candy corn. Candy corn’s buttery sweetness creates the perfect pairing for any grain heavy, easy drinking brew.

Now you’ll know what to drink the next time you raid the kids’ candy bucket! Happy Halloween and cheers!

Michael C. Upton works as a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure, covering subjects ranging from funk punk to fine wine. He invites your comments and suggestions at


Nothing beats Otto’s Apricot Wheat paired with gummy worms. Full of fruity esters, wheat beers often carry their own sweetness and can be easily complimented with citrus fruits, even the gummy kind. (Photo by Michael Upton)

Nothing beats Otto’s Apricot Wheat paired with gummy worms. Full of fruity esters, wheat beers often carry their own sweetness and can be easily complimented with citrus fruits, even the gummy kind. (Photo by Michael Upton)

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