Don't be scared by drinking beer with Halloween candy

Dawn Riffenburg
The Detroit News
Bell's Kalamazoo stout is a natural with black licorice or dark chocolate.

Halloween: It's not just for kids anymore. Not after today, when we unveil some great pairings of beer and candy that will change the way you view this holiday forever.

"Even adults eat Halloween candy," said Hannah Davis, World of Beer director of brand marketing and a certified cicerone (beer expert). "Why not pair it with beer? People shouldn't shy away from sweet things with beer."

For instance, a lot of different kinds of fruity, sour beers go with fruity candy, she said, and "chocolate with porter is going to be a winner every time."

Davis encourages beer drinkers to look for similarities in the beer and the candy to emphasize flavors in both. Some of her pairing ideas:

  • Belgian witbier — Pairs best with citrus candy like Lemonhead, Starburst or Orange Slices. The candy will bring out the citrus flavors in the beer.
  • Amber ale — Pairs best with candy that has toasted or caramel flavors like Heath Bars or Werther’s Original. The malts in the amber ale mirror the toasted, nutty, caramel flavors in the candy.
  • Lambic — Pairs best with tart and fruity candy like SweeTarts, Skittles or Jolly Ranchers. Many Lambics are quite tart, so the contrast with the sweet fruity flavors helps to emphasize that tartness.
  • Stout — Pairs best with chocolate, especially nutty candies like Snickers and Reese’s. Stouts famously have cocoa and deep nutty flavors from the malts, so chocolate complements perfectly.

That's a good place to start. First Draft asked Davis to offer some Michigan beer-candy pairings. She found the challenge "Easy. There's so many great breweries."

Her Michigan inspirations:

  • Short's Mule Beer — "Would be so good with Ginger Chews," said Davis, who tasted the beer, unnamed at the time, at Savor beer festival. Brewed with ginger and lime, it's an experimental American Blonde Ale designed to mimic the flavors of a Moscow Mule.

  • Short's Soft Parade — "With lots of berries, it would pair well with Starburst Berries & Cream flavor pack."

  • B. Nektar Zombie Killer — Not just because of its perfect name for Halloween, Davis chooses to pair this hard cider with cherry sour balls. It's brewed with honey and tart cherry juice, so "tart and sweet at the same time," Davis said, and a good match with the old-timey candy.
  • Bell's Kalamazoo Stout — This stout brewed with brewer's licorice, so "black licorice is the duh pairing there," Davis said. "But also with dark chocolate, maybe a 60 percent cocoa."

  • Founders Breakfast Stout — The coffee, oats and deep cocoa flavors would pair well with Milky Way or Kit Kat bars. "I was thinking about chocolate that I'd drink with coffee," Davis said, "and the biscuitty interior is a good pairing with the oats in the beer."

In case that's not enough, some World of Beer "drink it interns" shared their favorite pairings outside of the Mitten:

  • Alison Grasso: Twizzlers paired with an Evil Twin Brewing I Love You With My Stout (Imperial Stout)
  • Ben Lolli: Peanut Butter M&Ms paired with a North Coast Brewing Co. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
  • Jamaal Lemon & Shep Jenkins: Oreos paired with Atlas Brew Works Rowdy Rye Beer  

Outside of Halloween candy, beer-food pairings are always offered at World of Beer: "No meal should be without a beer," Davis said.

World of Beer opened a new Michigan location this week at 42820 Ford in Canton. The 6,000-square-foot tavern, which includes a large enclosed patio, offers more than 500 bottled beers and 50 often-changing taps.

Call World of Beer Canton at (734) 844-0616.