Category Archives: Halloween: Rock and Shock, 31 Days of Spooktacular, Spoooky Beer Reviews and More

Spoooky Beer Review: Narragansett “Innsmouth Olde Ale”

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The local inhabitants of old Watertowne have created much controversy among the scholarly professionals who have made it their business to research local legends and tales. The natives of this quiet little town have become lately restless. Strange whisperings among the more decadent and degenerate of their kind have indicated that a beverage, based upon an old recipe torn from the pages of some dark tome, has found its way onto shelves of numerous liquor stores.

In the hills of New England, various tribes of primitive man were known to cavort during the month that we know as October. Under the light of the dead moon, they would quaff deerskins brimming with an ale that was known to pierce the veil of their own understanding of how the mechanics of the universe function. During this time, when the skin of the world becomes transluscent and we can see through to the underspires of some other fantastical, cyclopean realm that beggars all rational thought, they would drink deep and see into the minds of the Old Ones.

It is with some hesitancy that I commit my own findings to the written page. I hesitate only because I know that I will only impel others to seek out what I myself have found and rob me of what appears to be a limited supply of this dark brew. I found Narragansett’s Innsmouth Olde Ale, on display between two pumpkin ales. My hands trembled as I reached toward it and I felt my mind retreat in upon itself. I knew not what happened then, only that I found myself back in my apartment, the six cans in my fridge and the pervasive odor of the sea clung to my garments.

I poured the can into the glass bearing the label of a lost and forgotten brewery. It is an amber-deep color, and smells of sweet fruit, reminiscent of cherries. There is a powerful amount of flavor, without it being overwhelming, reminiscent of a doppelbock. There are non-euclidian notes within, complexities upon complexities, and it does not do one well to drink quickly.

This is a beer to be enjoyed slowly and with great care and respect for the unendurable and immortal powers that created it. In a season replete with the intoxicating spices of pumpkins and the simpler, cleaner flavors of the Octobfest beers, “Innsmouth Olde Ale” is a refreshingly different alternative while still invoking the season in multiple ways, from its deep and hearty flavors that stave off the oncoming chill to the evocative can design.

If you’re a fan of beers like Tröegs Troegenator Double Bock and Spaten Optimator, you will enjoy “Innsmouth Olde Ale.”

I would give this beer five R’lyehs and the utter loss of my sanity instantly upon viewing the label.

-D-

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Trying New Things

I have never seen much of the Halloween series. I watched the first two or three and I’ve seen Rob Zombie’s attempts, but that’s about it. Considering it’s the movie that started the slasher genre, I’ve paid shockingly very little attention to it.

So I’m going to delve right in and watch all eight of the original movies, skipping the Rob Zombie remakes, mainly because I couldn’t stand the second one.

I don’t feel this will be particularly instructive or that I will gain great knowledge into slasher flicks, but goddamn if I can’t stand having this gap in my knowledge base. It’s the movie that helped to start it all and helped to define the genre for almost fifteen years, for better or for worse. There needs to be some respect paid. Also, considering how many times I’ve seen all of the Friday the 13th movies (including the abysmally dull remake), I feel like I owe our boy Michael Myers something.

Starting tomorrow: The Great Halloween Movie Marathon!

-D-

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Traditions

“All these traditions, jack-o’-lanterns, putting on costumes, handing out treats, they were started to protect us, but nowadays… No one really cares.” – Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

Every October, I have to watch the music video for Thriller. And not the truncated version, but the full, thirteen-minute extravaganza with the werewolf AND the zombies. No matter how the rest of the month goes, I have to kick it off the same way every year. In that one video, you have the directorial skills of John Landis, the director of the greatest werewolf movie ever made, the effects wizardry of Rick Baker, the crawling and creeping voice of Vincent Price and Michael Jackson at his prime. There are worse ways to kick off the Halloween season.

Halloween marks the start of the holiday season and it plays an important role. Halloween is the lead-in to the cold winter months, the point where Summer turns to Autumn, where the air takes on a definite chill, where the leaves die and fall and where light gives ground a little more to the darkness every day. This is the moment that we could go and bundle up and hide and prepare for the worst that Winter has to offer.

Instead, Halloween is the point where we dress up and march into the darkness and take control over our fears. We boldly strike out into the night dressed as our favorite monsters and let the creatures that bump in the night know that we are not afraid. It’s the last hurrah of Summer before we brace up for Winter.

Traditionally, for me, Halloween has been a period of high creativity. I feel the most in my element and it all feels so electric. For that one month out of twelve, everyone is on the same page as me. So for the first time in months, I feel like it’s time to start writing again. I don’t know what I’m going to fill this space with, but expect more over the next few weeks.

It’s time for monsters and pumpkin beers and horror movies and ghost stories and everything else that makes me tick. And, like every other year, let’s start the season off with an extravagant promise:

A post a day until October 31st.

Merry Halloween, y’all.

-D-

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Spoooky Beer Review: Harpoon’s UFO Pumpkin

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Harpoon makes some of my favorite beers, from their UFO White to Leviathon, you’re generally going to get a solid, complex beer with a lot to offer. So I had high hopes when I picked up UFO Pumpkin.

And those hopes were resoundingly rewarded. This if the kind of pumpkin ale that I want to be drinking; when there’s more pumpkin than spices and I feel like I’m in the middle of Halloween instead of the middle of some over-saturated, over-spiced pumpkin pie being served up for someone’s Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s unfiltered, so it has a deep, cloudy orange, making it look heavier than it actually tastes. It’s a deep, rich orange. It’s a satisfying color, letting you know exactly what you’re in for.

There is cinnamon and spice up front, which gives way to a solid and hearty pumpkin flavor. Much like Pumpkinhead, it’s very crisp and ultimately very refreshing.

For day to day drinking, both Pumpkinhead and UFO Pumpkin are good beers. They both have a relatively low alcohol content and don’t overwhelm you with unnecessary flavor. It honestly depends on what you’re looking for in a pumpkin ale. If you’re looking for a more spice heavy beer, I’d go with Pumpkinhead. If you want something a little more pumpkiny (that’s a technical term), UFO Pumpkin should be your go-to this season.  The spices and the pumpkin flavoring go hand-in-hand.

For me, UFO Pumpkin is the way to go and I give it seven cheerful Jack O’ Lanterns and a scowling black cat.

-D-

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Spoooky Beer Review: Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Pumpkinhead

 I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can during the Halloween Season. All while listening to “Thriller”.

In spite of the fact that I have now reviewed it twice on my blog, I am really not a huge fan of Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin. There is a LOT of flavor in there, but’s mostly spice, with the minute amounts of pumpkin being overwhelmed by cinnamon and nutmeg.

Now, you may be asking, why am I talking about Smashed Pumpkin for the third time? Well, because I have, somehow, never tried Shipyard’s main Halloween offering: Pumpkinhead Ale.  Smashed Pumpkin is a fancy beer that you can only purchase in those oversized pint-and-a-half bottles with a gold foil cover; Pumpkinhead is more like Smashed Pumpkin‘s little brother. It has a lower alcohol content and is sold in six packs and even in…cans.

It is a big seller round these parts and a symbol that Halloween is barreling down the highway like some lunatic truck.

And I have never reviewed it.

So I’m going to rectify that…right now.

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As far as pumpkin ales go, Pumpkinhead is a nice golden color. Not really that deep, orange I expect form pumpkin ales, but it’s rich and reminds me of Fall. And really, that’s all you can ask for in a Fall themed beer.

The first thing I notice when I poke my nose in the glass is cinnamon. Lots and lots of cinnamon. And maybe nutmeg. And I know that I’m not going to be thrilled. It’s a sweet and heavily spiced aroma that promises little in the way of pumpkins and a lot in the way of spice.

And drinking confirms it.

It’s more spice than pumpkin, much like with Smashed Pumpkin. However, unlike Smashed Pumpkin, it’s much lighter: lighter flavor and lighter alcohol content. It’s more refreshing and less overwhelming. Smashed Pumpkin can put you on your ass and leave you there gagging on spices. Pumpkinhead is gentler and a better beer for it, though still not quite what I’m looking for in a pumpkin beer.

It’s the perfect middle-of-the-week beer. You need something to remind you that Halloween is coming and forget the eight hours of work you just endured. You grab a Pumpkinhead. You don’t swirl it in your pilsner glass and comment on the aromas, like some asshole with a blog. You sit on the couch, turn on a baseball game and wonder what in God’s name happened to the Red Sox this season and let Pumpkinhead take you away.

I give it a handful of cinnamon sticks. And a ginger root. Because I bought a ginger root a few weeks ago thinking that Emily and I were going to make dumplings, but that didn’t really happen and now it’s getting a little shriveled.

-D-

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It’s Coming

Sometimes, you need to take a break. You just need to push your chair away from the desk, stand up and walk away for seven months and pretend that you never did what you were doing. 

And then, sometimes, there’s a hint of something in the air. It is, at first, impossible to determine what it is. The air is a little cooler. There are leaves on the ground where once there was just green grass, flowers and swarms of those little gnats. You can’t place it…

And then the grocery stores is setting masks out and companies start adding pumpkin to things that don’t really need to have pumpkin added to them, but once you hear about it, you can’t imagine NOT adding pumpkin to beer. 

And then, that’s when you sit back down and get back to work.

-D-

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Happy Halloween

It’s Halloween, the beginning of the best part of the year. There used to be a time, in my younger, more morbid days, that I considered Halloween to be my favorite holiday. I’d watch horror movies while coated in liquid latex wounds, quietly humming the theme to Friday the 13th.

But now, I see Halloween in a more subdued role; it’s the gateway to the season. It’s a season that starts October 1st and ends January 1st. It’s a season that celebrates family, giving, gratitude and staying warm as we turn a corner into dark winter. It’s our charge into the cold, our defiance of the how truly miserable February is no matter where you live.

First we start by conquering our fears. We dress up like heroes and monsters and run  laughing into the night eating way too much candy. We banish our fears, become our own worst monsters and say to Hell with the things that go bump in the night.

Have a safe and happy Halloween.

The season is just getting started.

-D-

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