What could be better this time of year than a nice, dark beer? I don't mean color, of course. I'm talking about beers with a touch of the macabre, whether in the form of demonic imagery used by brewers such as Stone and Avery, or the custom of naming beers after monsters and incorporating ominous themes into the packaging and the beer itself.
My original list of 666 creepy and outré beers had to be hacked down into a more manageable size, so here are six beers to cut your teeth on over the weekend.
Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Ale: Old Scratch himself would likely be creeped out by this beer's label, which is illustrated by iconic Gonzo artist Ralph Steadman and depicts a dog-headed cockroach straight out of a nightmare. The beer itself is considerably milder than the imagery, with a toasty body and light hop profile. Careful, it could be a trick.
Unibroue Maudite: The legend of Chasse-Galerie tells the tale of eight lumberjacks who sold their souls to the devil during a grueling winter expedition in exchange for a quick return to their homes and families, ultimately leading to their untimely demise. The legend is illustrated in a beautiful oil painting displayed on the label of this Belgian-style strong ale. Fortunately, a pact with the devil is not requisite to enjoy this Quebec brew.
Swamp Ape IPA: This Florida brew is an odd beast, described as a double IPA but consisting of a much maltier flavor profile than most beers in that category. Perhaps this incongruity is a nod to Florida's famed monster, the skunk ape — not quite man, not quite ape. At 10 percent alcohol by volume, it's likely strong enough for our very own bigfoot, but humans may enjoy it as well.
Coney Island Freaktoberfest: If you're tired of drinking actual blood, try this blood-red beer instead! Made of six malts and six hops, and clocking in at 6.66 percent ABV, this is actually a pretty straightforward Märzen, but with a sinister carnival vibe and grotesque appearance. If you have any skull-shaped goblets, now is the time to dust them off.
Dixie Voodoo Blackened Lager: Voodoo and occult rituals in 20th century New Orleans provide the backdrop for Lucio Fulci's bizarre masterpiece, The Beyond. Just as the dead refuse to stay that way in the film, the Dixie Brewery — devastated by the Katrina disaster and subsequent looting — refuses to die. Currently brewed by a contract brewer in Wisconsin until a hopeful recovery of the New Orleans facility, Dixie's black lager is a complex, nutty brew perfect for a night spent in the foggy bayous of Louisiana and beyond.
Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA: Maybe it's just me, but anything I can't see beneath the ocean surface is terrifying. The idea of a massive creature rising from the depths is enough to keep my feet firmly planted on land. But sea-faring and land-loving individuals alike can enjoy this full-bodied IPA, which comes with a monstrous hop bite but enough body to balance it out.