Thursday, February 22, 2018
Bars & Spirits

Pick six: Top beers for your Halloween party

It must have been nearly 10 years ago that I found the best Halloween costume ever. It was at the closing sale for the St. Petersburg location of Features Costumes (RIP Tampa location, which followed suit last year), and a decade or so later, it's still my go-to costume.

I'd love to say I've come up with a unique, interesting new costume idea each year, but this bizarre, grotesque owl costume — friends know the one I'm talking about — is just too good to leave in the closet.

Although my costume may stay the same at parties from year to year, there's one thing that's always different, and that's my Halloween six-pack. Nevermind the fact that I have to drink these beers through an extra-long straw poking through a hole I cut in the beak of the costume; the Halloween six-pack is a fun tradition and one I recommend for all fans of "dark" beer. Here's this year's lineup:

Narragansett Innsmouth Olde Ale. H.P. Lovecraft, one of most influential horror authors of all time, was born in Providence, R.I., in 1890, the same year that Providence's Narragansett was founded. The second release in the brewery's Lovecraft series is inspired by his story The Shadow Over Innsmouth. The style — a malt-driven, hefty English old ale — is not unlike what might have been found in New England taverns and inns of the time the story takes place. This one's worth getting for the can alone, which features lots of info on the brew, as well as an appropriately Lovecraftian illustration from Rhode Island artist Jason C. Eckhardt. It helps that the beer is also very good!

Terrapin The Walking Dead. Athens, Ga.'s Terrapin Brewing Co. has partnered with AMC's hit show The Walking Dead (which takes place largely in nearby Atlanta) for its new red IPA, flavored with blood orange peel. It falls just over the 6.66 percent mark, at 6.7 percent alcohol by volume. If you're thinking blood orange peels in a red IPA base will be excessively bitter, think again: This beer is full of bright, juicy citrus flavors. And yes, it's a bomber-only release, but it fits in a six-pack holder, so it counts!

Rogue Dead Guy Ale. Forgot about this one — didn't you? The name may be a bit on-the-nose for a Halloween sixer, but it's a true classic, and it's one that demands revisiting now and again. This is Rogue's take on a German Maibock, which has over the years come to be brewed almost entirely with Rogue's own malt, hops, water and yeast. Expect a showcase of nutty and lightly toasted malts, with a clean bitterness from Revolution and Independent hops from Rogue Farms. This beer's an oldie, but I assure you it's anything but dead!

Tampa Bay Brewing Co. Full Moon Madness. One of three new cans released by TBBC over the summer, Full Moon Madness takes the brewery's classic Jack the Quaffer recipe and gives it a "sub-tropical" twist, featuring prominent yeast esters that add fruity banana notes to the beer. Although it's more likely to produce flavorful refreshment than lycanthropic transformation, this is a beer that all moon-watchers will want on hand.

Shmaltz Death of a Contract Brewer. This black IPA is a headstone for 17 years of contract brewing for Shmaltz, whose beers had been previously brewed by Anderson Valley and Mendocino Brewing companies. In 2013, Shmaltz opened its own brewery in Clifton Park, N.Y., and this beer became a seasonal release a year later. Always preoccupied with numerology, Shmaltz has dialed this one in to 7 percent alcohol by volume, made with seven malts and seven hops. Why? You're really going to have to read the label to find out, as I couldn't possibly cover the explanation in just a paragraph. As promised, the beer is pitch black; despite the name, it's quite lively in flavor, with bright, floral hops contrasting with rich, roasted malts. A fitting eulogy!

Twisted Pine Ghostface Killah. Colorado's Twisted Pine calls this one a "demonic treat for true heat freaks." If this describes you, then get this in your six-pack. If not, be aware that this beer is hellishly hot, peppered with six varieties of chilies, including Bhut Jolokia — more commonly known as the ghost pepper. The odds of you actually finishing a bottle yourself are slim, so share this with the rest of the folks at the party: it'll be a bigger hit than an old, vaguely sinister owl costume.

[email protected]; @WordsWithJG.

Comments
This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

FIELD OF GREEN: COLLARD FESTOn Saturday you can devote your whole day to the beauty of collard greens. Well, thatís the jumping off point. Collards are the "central ingredient" at the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival at St. Petersburgís Historic Deuc...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/22/18
Explore mayo's upscale friend: aioli

Explore mayo's upscale friend: aioli

Mayonnaise does not have to be pedestrian. Mayonnaise, like life, is what you make of it. The link below is devoted to America’s love-hate relationship with the white stuff in the jar. Yours truly provides a defense for using it as a cooking a...
Published: 02/21/18
In defense of mayonnaise

In defense of mayonnaise

It weighed heavy, spread across my soul like a creamy white burial shroud. I would never admit it, not in a million years. My husband wondered, what was on the chicken? He ate it willingly, then enthusiastically. "I can never tell you." I sat quie...
Published: 02/21/18
Hide the cauliflower in this Mushroom and Cauliflower Frittata recipe

Hide the cauliflower in this Mushroom and Cauliflower Frittata recipe

Do I like cauliflower as much as the next guy? Well, no. Itís one of the cruciferous vegetables whose cooked aroma sends me running for the exit. But the oh-so-trendy riced variety, stirred into this frittata mix, works for me.Hereís why: Used raw, i...
Published: 02/20/18
Drink of the week: the Holy Snail Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Loire Valley

Drink of the week: the Holy Snail Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Loire Valley

With the weather turning toward spring, so do our appetites ó from hearty comfort food to lighter, fresher flavors.That goes for wine as well, and one lively choice is the Holy Snail Sauvignon Blanc 2016 from the Joel Delaunay winery in the Loire Val...
Published: 02/20/18
Taste test: canned peeled tomatoes

Taste test: canned peeled tomatoes

On a recent cold night, my son asked for a bowl of tomato soup. I was preparing to run to the grocery store for a can or carton of soup to heat up when I realized I had 17 cans of whole tomatoes on the counter, ready for my tasting panel to sample. I...
Published: 02/20/18
Review: Platt Street Borough is casual Tampa dining with high standards

Review: Platt Street Borough is casual Tampa dining with high standards

TAMPAIt wasnít that long ago that Platt Street was a bit of a conundrum for restaurateurs: Not exactly downtown, without the dense auto traffic of Kennedy, and far enough off the South Howard main drag that it didnít entirely qualify as part of SoHo....
Published: 02/19/18
Bar review: Four Green Fields at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Bar review: Four Green Fields at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

At most Irish pubs, guests will encounter some combination of shamrock and leprechaun imagery, Guinness signs and possibly Dropkick Murphys playing on the jukebox. Thatís about what I expected a bit more than a decade ago when I first visited Tampaís...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Local-ish craft beer of the week: Two Tickets, Gravity Brewlab/Evil Twin Brewing

Local-ish craft beer of the week: Two Tickets, Gravity Brewlab/Evil Twin Brewing

Call it local-ish. Miamiís Gravity Brewlabs is four hours south of the bay area by car, but it could be closer on any given day, seeing as how it has operated for years as a "gypsy" brewery, partnering with local brick-and-mortars to produce its line...
Updated: 10 hours ago
The Reading Roomís Lauren Macellaro and Columbiaís Richard Gonzmart are James Beard semifinalists

The Reading Roomís Lauren Macellaro and Columbiaís Richard Gonzmart are James Beard semifinalists

Itís almost a sick joke. On the morning after Valentineís Day, the second-busiest restaurant day of the year, chefs all over the country are hauling themselves out of bed early to find out: Did I make it onto this yearís James Beard Foundation list o...
Published: 02/15/18