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31 Days of Spoooktacular: The Anticipation

Halloween, a long time ago, stopped being about Halloween. I don’t go out and Trick ‘r’ Treat. I don’t wear costumes. I don’t have kids and take them Trick ‘r’ Treating. Generally, I hang out and watch a movie.

But all the days and weeks leading up have become a celebration of their own. I watch horror movies and drink beer with goblins on the front and talk about scary movies endlessly with my few friends who don’t run away when they see me coming between August and November. It’s about celebrating scary things in a pretty damn silly way. I am going to a convention that borderline deifies the man who played a character called Pinhead. That doesn’t mean I won’t do my damnedest to get his autograph, but I think it’s a good idea to occasionally step back and realize what we’re doing here.

Halloween is the time of year when we pants the Boogeyman, knock him on his ass into a mud puddle and point and laugh. We take a good, hard look at those things that live in the dark, turn a flashlight on in their eyes and laugh as they stumble away. To hell with the darkness and let’s have some fun.

-D-

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31 Days of Spoooktacular: The Prequel

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s descent into madness. I hope I never have to do that again. But it did give you a little taste of what to expect in the coming days.

For the next 31 days, I plan to post more Spoooky Beer Reviews, horror movie reviews, and my occasional over-philosophizing about the horror genre, both in books and in film. I plan to blog from Rock and Shock. I plan to even blog about things that aren’t directly related to Halloween, just to mix it up a little bit.

In the end, I hope that you and I will know each other better  and grow closer together.

And that you’ll buy my book.

-D-

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Spoooky Beer Review: Cambridge Brewing’s The Great Pumpkin Ale (Entry II)

 

 

 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”.

Next up: Cambridge Brewing’s The Great Pumpkin Ale

 

 

I’m going to be honest with you: I’m kind of getting sick of pumpkin ales. They taste violently of pumpkins and I can only take so much of it. And why JUST pumpkins? Come on guys, there are more ways to celebrate the season than with the flavor of pumpkins! Like….candy corn beer.

Ugh, never mind. Talked myself out of that right quick.

Luckily for me and my sudden bitterness toward pumpkin ales, The Great Pumpkin Ale is nowhere near as strongly flavored as the truly awesome Pumking. It has a strong, spicy smell that’s immediately no better or worse than any of its cousins. And the first taste gives you a strong burst of spice flavor, but not a lot of pumpkin flavor.

It’s the finish that makes this a more dissatisfying beer, pumpkin ale or otherwise. It just kind of…stops and leaves you hanging with a kind just-there aftertaste. It feels…incomplete.

I made Emily try some while she was eating some pumpkin bread (that I baked myself) and she said it was really good. So! If you want a good beverage to go with your pumpkin based foods, go with The Great Pumpkin Ale. Its less in-your-face pumpkintude will complement your meal with aplomb!

I give it a Charlie Brown Halloween Special.

-D-

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Spoooky Beer Review: Magic Hat’s “Hex”

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

Next up: Magic Hat’s “Hex”

After all these pumpkin ales, I needed a break. There’s only so much cinnamon and pumpkin you can drink before you start sneezing holiday cheer. So I went and picked up Magic Hat’s Hex, a Halloween theme beer that promises no kind of pumpkin and delivers on that promise.

When a brewery decides to eschew more traditional means of a seasonal beer (light ales in the Summer, IPAs in the Spring, Rauchbiers in the Winter {ugh}), they have to really go the extra mile to sell it as that season’s beer. This generally means the packaging is going to get all holiday up in your grill.

Take “Hex” for instance. There are demons and vampires being served beer by a floating witch waitress while they sit at a blood red table under a blood red sky and the whole thing is framed with wrought iron and spiky brambles. Bam, there’s Halloween for you. Now, it doesn’t have to taste  like Halloween at this point. You bought the beer for a party and you’re going to use the actual bottles as decoration.

But it does have to taste goodIt can’t all just be gimmicky labeling and spooky boxes. If you don’t want to drink what’s in the bottle, then you just plunked eight dollars down on a refrigerator decoration, which would have been better spent on cotton ball webs and plastic spiders.

Luckily for you and for me, “Hex” is a pretty decent beer. It has a good, strong burst of flavor; kind of tart and there’s just the slightest hint of Belgian in there. It’s not the most intense beer, but nor is it the disappointingly bland brew that is Scarecrow, a beer you’ll be meeting later in the week.

I’m not generally a fan of Magic Hat, but I like this. It’s that little bit of tartness that does it for me. It’s a little heavy, but not too much and it doesn’t overpower you with flavor.

On the downside, it does tend to…linger a bit. Like an IPA that overstays its welcome a bit too long, Hex leaves behind a bitter aftertaste, but on the periphery of your mouth.

All in all, “Hex” was surprisingly decent and a well rounded seasonal beer that made me want to give Magic Hat a second chance. Bring a six pack to that Halloween party you’re going to. The host will welcome the additional spookiness and people won’t break half-empty bottles over your head when they taste it.

I give it, Hell, I don’t know…two zombies and a murderous conjoined (but detached) twin in a wicker picnic basket*.

-D-

*A head nod and a wry smile to the person who gets the reference.

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Spoooky Beer Review: Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Smashed Pumpkin

 

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

Next up: Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Smashed Pumpkin

Remember yesterday when I was talking about beers that call themselves pumpkin ales, but don’t really deliver in that department? This is one of them.

Oh, it has that same gorgeous orange color as the others and it smells great, but it smells like cinnamon. It smells so strongly of cinnamon that it doesn’t even really smell like beer. That’s a little alarming.

The first sip basically verifies what your nose already told you; this beer tastes a lot like cinnamon. And not much like anything else. It’s by no means terrible. I think there are only a few people in this world who hate the taste of cinnamon and those people are heartless fiends who also dislike marshmallows in their coco and videos of panda babies stumbling down slides.

But this is a flavor that’s more evocative of pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving than Jack o’ Lanterns and Halloween. Or Christmas! Cinnamon is a Christmas spice too!  If you removed that bad-ass label with the Jack o’ Lantern, the orange and gold and the pumpkin themed name, you could totally market this as a Christmas beer (“Kringle Ale”) with a drunk elf in snazzy green elf shoes on the front.

It’s a good beer with a strong kick (9% Alc./Vol.), but in spite of all the Halloween marketing, it’s hardly a Halloween beer with nary a pumpkin flavor in sight.

I give it a goddamn Ho-Ho-Ho! and a Merry Christmas! for this Halloween brew.

-D-

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