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Hoops on Hops: Beers for the spookiest night of the year

Happy Halloween to you all. This week, I'm writing about beers that fit the bill, as in the darkest of the darks, fun beers for enjoying with the pilfered candy from your kids' trick-or-treat bag, and of course, the beers to bring along to the party you've been working out a costume for.

Black beers are easy to find and include stouts, porters, black lagers and black IPAs. For Halloween, I suggest searching out Imperial Stout. Rich and flavorful with a pitch-black color and warming alcohol for the cooler weather, Imperial Stouts offer an inviting quality of a "sipper." Flavors of chocolate, molasses and vanilla make this beer a perfect small pour while you answer the door to the trick-or-treaters ringing the bell. I also recommend playing the Turner Classic Movie Channel if you have it, as they will show very old horror movies all day today — it's the perfect backdrop for this fun holiday.

When I was of trick-or-treating age, my parents would let my brother and me go out with pillow cases that we would get filled up with all kinds of candy. When we got home, a large amount of our booty was to be frozen and saved for the rest of the year. We figured out that we should hide some candy away so we could gorge to our delight. I found out later that my folks also grabbed a bit before they hid away the frozen portion.

For the parents out there who might be grabbing a (very small, of course) stash of your kids' candy, here are some beers that go well with some of the classic treats.

Red vines, Skittles, Starburst. Fruit beer, especially cherry beer or Belgian kriek lambic for the total fruit taste-bud explosion.

Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Charleston Chews. Brown ale or an extra pale ale will intensify the sweet candy very well.

Candy bars. Porters and barrel-aged stouts are nice with chocolate or caramel-based bars.

Sour candies, lemon drops, sour gummies. Gose beers, Berliner weiss and similar beers with low pH will balance the sour notes of the candy.

Malted milk balls. German fest beers and Munich Dunkels are perfect

Bubblegum. Light wheat beer or Belgian style wits, if you dare.

Taffy. A clean pilsner or helles will cut the sweetness and make you crave another piece.

Caramel corn or popcorn. A hoppy pale ale or an IPA is great with the salty and sweet flavors.

If your Halloween plans are leaning toward a get-together or costume party, then here are some ideas of beers to show up with:

Local beers. Nothing works better than showing up with a beer made within miles of the party. The Twin Ports are justifiably proud of our brewing scene, and showing your support works year-round.

Novelty beers. There are many to choose from including one-offs, small runs or seasonals. These are good conversation starters. Ideas include:

Flavored beers. Pumpkin beers, peanut butter porters, banana or apple ales, watermelon beer, brownie beer, chili pepper beers, fruited sour beers, and anything with chocolate.

Old standards, or the classics. Those beers that seemingly have always been around, light lagers, old school pale ales, Irish stouts and cream ale.

Happy Halloween everyone, be safe and have fun. As always, feel free to share your own dark night beer ghost stories. If I had more space here, I would tell you about the famous Claus Dervanwall, the mad, one-armed brewer from the far south who was rumored to brew beers that could either enhance or decrease the drinker's intellect depending on the imbiber's Halloween support of his beers. The dark spells used in these beers were eventually defeated by the townspeople, and other brewers, who figured out that Lake Superior water was the antidote to the evil brewed into the Darvanwall beers. A story for another day, or year.

Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge. Contact him at dave@hoopsbrewing.com.

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