Halloween’s Scary or Friendly Bottles: Kombucha, Beers + Ciders

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Pumpkin Beer

On this, the scariest day on the calendar, I turn my attention to those bottles that you see on store shelves but you can’t bring yourself to take to the counter and buy. You know the ones. the weird or odd ingredients, the crazy style of beer or the label that makes you grimace. Or all of the above.

Since Halloween is about facing your fears (and miniature candy), I sampled three beers that I would not normally buy were it not the witching hour. OK, one is a cider and yes two are pumpkin themed (including the cider). But I did dread the first sip for fear of what I might find.  And surprisingly, none were really bad.

Ace Pumpkin Cider

The reason that I was scared to try this? My thinking was that it would be too gourdy. That fermenting pumpkin wouldn’t have the lick of apples. But the Ace needs more pumpkin. A lot more. Basically regular cider with a splash of mulling spices and a smidge of pumpkin. Maybe for those who think pumpkin lattes are too pumpkiny. It tastes good, just not what I was hoping for.

Timmerman’s Pumpkin Lambicus

Another pumpkin beer that I was scared to try. But the little bit of actual pumpkin flavor takes a back seat to the all spice notes. And the Lambic style is really subdued as well. It just doesn’t smell like a Belgian Lambic which causes a bit of a disconnect.  Nice and easy to drink but more acid reflux causing than tart or sour. Again I say, pumpkin please!

Unity Vibration KPA

Not a kombucha fan, am I. So this kombucha pale ale sounded like a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster. Mixing the fermented Kombucha with beer?  And the initial aroma is that vinegar smell that makes the nose crinkle. But the taste isn’t bad. Sort of Gueze-esque with juniper gin notes.  I would have added even more hops to cover more of the vinegar notes but there is a nice cereal note at the end.

The next time you see a beer that is a little scary to you remember that maybe the monster under the bed just wants to be your friend.

Your scary Beer of the Week is Spooky Hollow Scotch style ale from El Segundo Brewing Co. Scotch Ales are Scotch Ales, in most cases, boil in the kettle for a long time to achieve a certain caramelization of the wort. So something a little sweeter but also darker.  Perfect for this holiday. The Hollow is a great addition to the hop filled Blue House line-up plus the slightly distorted label makes you look twice at the ghoulish Scotsman who appears to be coming towards you.

The Homework this week is to make sure you visit a local brewery when you go home for the next major holiday. I always encourage drinking locally so whether you are bound for Illinois, Florida, New York or here in California, this Thanksgiving try the local option. Which in Chicago is actually the Local Option Brewery.

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.


Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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