As an adult, some nights I spend my time looking over open enrollment paperwork, trying to decide which plan really feels like "me." Other nights I tell my husband not to fill up on dinner because we have seven different kinds of candy to pair with beer while we watch Stranger Things 2.
The other night happened to one of the fun nights, although I quickly discovered that tummy aches from too much candy do not go away in adulthood.
Each year, Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine creates a list of Halloween candy and beer pairings. This year, I wasn't trying to feverishly finish a pumpkin keg for my I Tried It, so I had plenty of time to pick out beers and spend $30 on candy.
(By the way, we don't have trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood, so now I need to decide how long I front that I'm not totally going to eat all of that candy over the next few weeks (days?). I already vetoed my husband taking it to his office to give to someone who actually has trick-or-treaters.)
A word of warning: the beers Craft Beer & Brewing suggest to pair with candy are pretty ridiculous. Remember a few years ago when Gwyneth Paltrow named a $90 white t-shirt a wardrobe staple? That's pretty much how this list reads: pair M&Ms with SR-71 from Toppling Goliath. It's a good thing my local grocery store had two-for-$6 bags of Halloween candy on sale, because that bottle of SR-71, assuming I can find it, will set me back about $990. Other suggestions include beers from the likes of American Solera, Side Project, and Hill Farmstead.
I went the much more affordable route and picked up a mixed six-pack of beers I could find at my local bottle shop and supplemented with a couple beers I already had, including a cream ale I had bought for studying purposes but then forgot about and it's been sitting in my beer fridge while I tried to figure out what to do with it.
Beer in tasting glasses, candy in front of its respective beer, Stranger Things 2 on - I was ready to do some research.
M&Ms + Founders DKML (Barrel-Aged Beer)- If you've procured any DKML and have been wondering whether you should drink it or let it age, I'm telling you to let it age. I understand malt liquor is its own thing, but woof, this thing was hoooooooootttttttt. At 14.2%, this needs some time to mellow out. That being said, it probably wasn't the best barrel-aged beer to pair with M&Ms, although listing "Barrel-Aged Beer" as a style is a problem in and of itself - there are several very different types of beer that get barrel-aged nowadays. I suggest pairing M&Ms with a barrel-aged Scotch Ale or Barleywine.
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups + Shiner Homespun (Cream Ale) - This match was pretty enjoyable, although I'm partial to peanut butter cups anyway. The cream ale did a nice job of lifting the peanut butter and chocolate off my palate, making the candy seem a lot lighter..almost as if I hadn't already eaten four pieces...so I should probably eat some more.
Starburst + Allagash Saison (Saison) - Dang, I forgot how nice Allagash Saison is. If it's been awhile since you've had one, I recommend picking some up the next time you see it. That being said, this match was almost perfect. You know how they made Starburst FaveREDs, the pack of Starburst that's comprised of only the red flavors? I have found a use for the remaining lemon and orange flavors that have super hurt feelings about FaveREDs. The lemon and orange Starburst paired perfectly with the Saison because they made the orange and lemon flavors in the Saison seem even brighter. The strawberry and cherry Starbursts...not so much.
Candy Corn + Cigar City Tampa-Style Lager (Light Lager) - I love candy corn. I could eat it all day, which makes me think I can probably eat wax all day if I were so inclined. However, it is incredibly sugary (go figure), so the dry crispness of the German Pils-style Lager was a perfect match for making the sugar not quite as apparent and bringing out some of the actual flavors of the candy corn. (Pedantic point - "sweet" is not a flavor, it is a taste.) As it turns out, candy corn doesn't have a ton more going on beyond sugar, but I still love it.
Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars + Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout (Milk Stout) - I'm generally not a huge fan of milk stouts, although I can appreciate a well-made milk stout. Pairing Left Hand Milk Stout with Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars was a decent pairing, although I didn't think the pairing particularly elevated either component. I would be interested to see a milk stout paired with some kind of berry-flavored candy, so maybe I need those cherry and strawberry Starbursts after all.
Hershey's Dark Chocolate Kisses + Sugar Creek Raspberry White Ale (Raspberry Ale) - One thing I find fascinating about dark chocolate is the fruitiness you can find in it, typically cherries or raspberries, so this pairing was aces in my book. I don't typically go for heavily fruited beers, but the roastiness and creaminess of the dark chocolate complimented the tartness and the raspberry flavor in the beer so well that I didn't find the fruit flavor overwhelming.
Butterfinger Bars + Spaten Optimator (Doppelbock) - The Craft Beer & Brewing article technically called for a Bock, but I already had Optimator on hand, so I went with that (as you'll find out in a future I Tried It, I've found that Doppelbock pairs well with basically all the foods I cook, so now I try to keep it on hand). Out of all the pairings we did, this one was by far my favorite. The roasted peanut butter and chocolate of the candy matched perfectly with the rich and malty Doppelbock. Fun fact: in an early marketing campaign, the company that invented Butterfinger dropped the candy bars from planes in cities across the United State to boost their popularity. Oh, to live in a world where it rained Butterfingers.
Maybe tonight instead of handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, you turn off your porch light, close your blinds, and sit in the darkness of your house to do some candy and beer pairings of your own. Or wait until tomorrow when all your co-workers bring in leftover candy because "they can't have it at their house, hahahahaha" and leave it in the break room (and then sneak back in throughout the day to eat all of it anyway - we all see you, Deb).
What are some of your favorite candy and beer pairings?