The Halloween Mix: Fall Beer and Music Pairings

So while I wait patiently for new records to fall in love with (I honestly have not been jazzed about any new releases enough to write a review in awhile), I’ll do something I love. Besides writing about beer, I love making mixes. While tapes and even CDs are starting to go away as formats, there still is something to be said about a collection of songs that mean something. These are my 5 favorite Halloween songs, paired with some of my favorite pumpkin or autumn beers. Enjoy!

“Black No. 1”- Type O Negative/Southern Tier Warlock

My number one pick for a Halloween song is the quintessential Type O track, “Black No. 1”. I love Type O Negative, and of course with all their references to Nosferatu and Goth culture, I have to rock out to them even harder around Halloween. “Black No. 1” is off their 1993 record Bloody Kisses. This album celebrates its 20 year anniversary this year, so what better time to dust it off and listen to it?

I’m pairing one of my favorite bands with one of my new favorite beers. I didn’t think Southern Tier could top the delicious Pumking, but they did with Warlock, a pumpkin stout that tastes like the darker, evil twin of that tasty pumpkin pie ale.

“Halloween”- the Misfits/Dogfish Head Punkin

Can’t have a Halloween mix without your old pal Glenn Danzig, right? “Halloween” was released as a 7-inch single on All Hallows’ Eve 1981, and later on the Legacy Of Brutality collection in 1985. Who doesn’t love thrashing around a good “bonfire burning bright”, with PUNKIN faces in the night? I wanted to pair the most punk rock track on this list with this totally punk rock pumpkin ale from Dogfish Head. It’s a brown ale, but with pumpkin, brown sugar, and spices, it’s a great seasonal drink. Despite the fact that it’s 7% ABV, it feels much light enough to finish in the short length of the average Misfits track.

“Dead Man’s Party”- Oingo Boingo

Like the Misfits and Type O, I’ll add another Halloween essential to the mix: Danny Elfman. His compositions from movies like Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas are as familiar as the films themselves around All Hallow’s Eve. Elfman fronted Oingo Boingo from 1972-1995, and the title track of 1985’s Dead Man’s Party is a favorite for all Halloween parties, whether you’re dead or alive.

I’ll pair this older favorite with a new beer that I love: 2Roads Brewing’s Roadsmary’s Baby. There are plenty of pumpkin beers out there, but this one stands out with its rum-barrel-aged sweetness. It’s 6.8% alcohol but drinks very easily.

“Time Warp”- Richard O’Brien/Rocky Horror Picture Show

“Time Warp” is a classic Halloween song. It doesn’t feel like Halloween until I’ve done the Time Warp at least 4 times. In that way, I picked a classic Oktoberfest ale to pair with it. Paulaner goes back a little earlier than Rocky Horror, 1810 to be exact, for the first ever Oktoberfest in Munich. I find the Paulaner Oktoberfest to be a little darker than some of the others out there, with that tasty roasted malt flavor.

“I Put A Spell On You”- Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

It’s one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 “Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”. The performance is ridiculous but still musically awesome. Isn’t that what Halloween is about? A chance to be ridiculous no matter if you’re a serious musician or not.

I paired Screamin’ Jay, who was born in Cleveland, with a delicious beer that was too. Great Lakes Brewing puts out their Nosferatu imperial red ale, which is a nice change to see amongst all the pumpkin-heavy beers this time of year.

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Review: The Sheepdogs “The Sheepdogs”/Southern Tier Harvest

THE RECORD

The Sheepdogs The Sheepdogs Atlantic Records 2012

Next up- another review of a band from Canada. This week we have the Sheepdogs with their latest, self-titled record. This is a wonderful, feel-good record for the fall. Starting off with “Laid Back”, the title of this song gives you an idea of the kind of mood this album evokes. Just right for sitting around a backyard with a flannel shirt and some tasty libations, of course.

Single “The Way It Is” has an awesome video to go along with it, that features the three Bs of awesomeness: Beer, Beards, and Baseball. Check it out at the end of this. “How Late, How Long” is another one of my favorite tracks. It has a great hook with the lyric “singing your song” that keeps me singing this song in my head.

This album was produced by Patrick Carney of the Black Keys. It’s evident in the sound of this record, especially on “Feeling Good”, which has a fuzzed out guitar sound that sounds very much like some of the more recent records from the Keys. Carney’s production helps to put a modern spin on the sound of a record that takes a lot of influences from the southern rock and blues of the 70s. Lots of Allman Brothers-style guitar work and vocal harmonies galore, very present on “Is Your Dream Worth Dying For?”

The Sheepdogs self-titled album has a perfect balance of pop gems presented in a totally rockin’ manner. It’s also a 14-song record you can listen to without skipping over anything, which is a rare thing.

THE BEER

Harvest- Southern Tier Brewing Company- Lakewood, NY

Southern Tier is one of my favorite brewing companies, so I will probably be reviewing their beers many times in this blog. The beer I’ve chosen today is one of their current seasonal offerings, Harvest. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons for beer because it’s much more comfortable to drink darker beers as it gets cooler out. Autumn beers have a lot more going on with them too. You can find so many different varietals of hops in these brews, along with different blends of spices and other flavors. However, on the other hand, I often find that many fall beers fall into one of two catergories: pumpkin ale, or Octoberfest. I love both of these, don’t get me wrong, but there are so many that it’s hard to tell them apart sometimes.

ST Harvest is neither, which is why I like it from the getgo. It’s an English-style Extra Special Bitter (oh hey, I like making those!). It has a deep ruby-golden color, exactly the shade of fall foliage at its peak. Harvest pours with a decently thick head and has a medium body and a clean finish. It’s not overly sweet, with more of a bready taste and a very slight caramel flavor. I would love to drink this beer with a nice stew on a cool day.

THE PAIRING

This record and beer pairing has a lot to do with the seasonal connotations evoked from each source. Harvest is a laid back beer, much like the title of the first track off the Sheepdogs’ album. The beer takes all the best things about an ESB and puts a fall spin on it, making it just right for the present time of year. In a similar way, the Sheepdogs take all the best parts of 70s rock and make it modern and fitting for now.