The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and Halloween is but a few days away. That’s right, fall is officially here. That also means it’s time for pumpkins on your doorstep and in your beer.
Now, it’s easy for beer makers to go too far with pumpkin or pumpkin spices. Luckily for you, I’ve tracked down one that will make all those sugar-fueled costumed children just a little more bearable.
Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Warlock Imperial Stout is your ideal Halloween brew, and it even has a perfect name. Warlock is the old, traditional title given to a male witch. It stems from medieval Scottish. We now think of a male witch more as a wizard, which is at least partially influenced by the gargantuan popularity of Harry Potter and his Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
So if you’re going to drink a beer for Halloween, why shouldn’t it be dark, mysterious, and named after a magic-wielding figure? See, that’s why Warlock is the best beer for the occasion. Southern Tier’s Warlock is a dark, full bodied stout with big roasty malt flavors, and a slightly sweet pumpkin and spice finish. Too many pumpkin beers taste like a blended pumpkin pie, overly sweet and too filling to enjoy more than one. This beer is not one of those.
Because of popular culture, when you think about a drink that a warlock or wizard might enjoy you probably think of Butterbeer from the Potterverse. That drink was sweet like some pumpkin beers, described by J.K. Rowling as “a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch.” Hmm. Thankfully Warlock is much different than “less-sickly butterscotch.” Honestly, is that a good description if you’re trying to sell Butterbeer to Harry Potter theme park visitors? “Less-sickly” doesn’t make it sound very drinkable.
On the other hand, Warlock is incredibly drinkable. The trick of this treat is that the 8.6 percent ABV will sneak up on you. The alcohol is so well hidden in the beer that you have no idea you’re feeling it until you’re done. I had this in a 22-ounce bottle, and by the time I was finished I was feeling ready to re-watch “Stranger Things” ahead of this week’s Season Two release. It’s that kind of chill and enjoy beer.
Another thing I like about this beer is its complexity. Sure, you get the pumpkin flavor, but there’s also the dark chocolate and slightest hint of coffee that you can get in stouts. You also find the pumpkin pie-associated spices of cinnamon and nutmeg, plus perhaps a touch of honey. There’s a lot to this beer, and as you work your way through the bottle you’ll find more and more to like about it.
I’m a sucker for a good Halloween movie or TV series. This year I’ll absolutely be watching “Stranger Things” Season Two (look for my review next week), but if you’re in the mood for something more witch- and wizard-focused, pull out one of the Harry Potter films (the third is undoubtedly the best of the series), maybe something scary like the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, or something light-hearted and family friendly like the 1993 classic “Hocus Pocus.” All of those will be made better by some of Southern Tier’s Warlock Imperial Stout.
Cheers to Halloween!