It’s hard to believe that Americans have been shaking down their neighbors for candy for nearly a hundred years. Beginning in the 20s, children across the country have been celebrating Halloween with some form of trick-or-treating.
The tradition’s earliest origins can be dated back over a millennium but the transformation over the last century has probably been just as extreme. On Halloween night a hundred years ago, a trick-or-treater might recite the phrase as if to offer the resident one of two options. The person at the door would hand over their goodies or risk vandalization; even robbery in some cases.
While there are varying accounts of the tradition’s origin story, we know that Halloween today is almost purely about the treats. The golden age of candy-based threats has ended.
Most anyone who participated in the Halloween tradition of door-to-door goodie gathering remembers how much fun it was to be able to stay out late, roaming the neighborhood in costume. Sure, you’d have to answer the same infamous question a thousand times. “What are you supposed to be?” asked every sweet old lady ever. But it was totally worth it! Save for a few rogue apples (not going back there next year), most likely you’d end the night with a bucket full of candy and a subsequent stomachache.
At 27, though, it’s probably no longer appropriate for me to go door to door collecting candy (or making threats for that matter). And since craft beers don’t just go knocking door-to-door, I invited some mysterious costumed brews over to my fridge this October.
Tapping into my adventurous side, I hunted down only the beers that carried a strong possibility of tricking me in one way or another. Taking on the role of an unsuspecting old-timey neighborhood gentleman, I answered the refrigerator door with nothing to give and hoped for the best.
We can all agree that the current form of trick-or-treating is much more wholesome than its former iterations but I’m here to say that when it comes to beer, tricks are just as fun. Here’s to a new tradition!
This beer may not be a unicorn when it comes to flavor profile but it’ll always have its looks to fall back on.”
Fist Bump the Void – Mystic & Stillwater Artisanal
Mystic and Stillwater Artisanal teamed up to concoct Fist Bump the Void, a black saison brewed with gentian root and star anise. This trick or treat beer’s body resembles that of a traditional saison, although an onlooker would surmise that you’re drinking a porter based on its color.
Before your first taste, you’ll pick up an aroma similar to one you would expect from a saison, but true to Halloween fashion it hides behind the mask of another flavor.
Unlike the coffee or chocolate flavors you might pick up from a similarly colored beer, Fist Bump’s flavor resembles something like a root beer or a certain black liqueur without the gagging sensation. Although, as the beer warms, that earthy flavor becomes more prominent.
What looked like a uniquely colored saison robbed me blind and tricked me into drinking a Moxie disguised as a beer. Lock the door.
Stochasticity Master of Disguise – Stone
When you pour yourself a stout, you’re probably expecting to see a full-bodied black or dark brown brew. Stone’s Master of Disguise, however, is exactly as its name suggests. It’s a 9.7% alcohol by volume imperial stout, dressed up as a double IPA. Brewed in 2014, this beer has held up extremely well despite having been exhumed from a cellar-y grave.
In terms of flavor profile, it’s pretty typical of what one would expect from an imperial stout. The presence of coffee and cocoa are evident in this golden monster. There’s no question, from the aroma, that you’re drinking something nearing double-digit alcohol percentage but the accompanying sweetness makes this an extremely pleasant sipper.
Master of Disguise may not be a unicorn when it comes to flavor profile but it’ll always have its looks to fall back on. If this one comes knocking, welcome it with open arms. Just look at it.
Hoppy Märzen – Von Trapp
If you’re already familiar with the Märzen style, you’ll find this one to be a real trick-or-treat. It’s quite the change of pace from the sweet, orange labeled Oktoberfest beers many of us cut our teeth on. If you’re not familiar with Märzens, please check out our own Andrew Craig’s article about the traditional Oktoberfest beer.
The aroma of Von Trapp’s creation suggests New England IPA with its hoppy citrus notes. Didn’t see that coming. The flavor profile, though, is about as close as it gets to a true hybrid. The sweet, autumn flavors we associate with a Märzen are present, but with a seriously hoppy bitterness.
I truly enjoyed this one but it’s surely a trick because of its unusual fusion of flavors. Proceed with caution.
Burton Baton – Dogfish Head
Just when I thought I’d found the strangest one, I popped open a Burton Baton. I’ll say it right away, this one’s a trick. This Imperial IPA appears as such but smells like nothing but the oak tanks in which it is aged. Seriously, you couldn’t tell me this was an IPA if you didn’t have the bottle to back you up.
Burton Baton pours a deep, hardly translucent caramel color and tastes precisely how it smells. The hop profile is hardly distinguishable in this IPA. And while not unpleasant, it tastes primarily of sweet vanilla. Oh and at 10% ABV, a couple might turn you into a time traveler.
Real trickster, this one.
Trick-or-treating with beer is an adventure; your new favorite beer might just sneak up and say BOO!
Thanks to Remo Remoquillo for the header illustration.