Halloween is in two days. Time to find some treats to put in the grown-ups’ pillow cases, so to speak.
Let’s start with the whole concept of “trick or treat.” The wearing of costumes – like most Halloween customs – is derived from both the Celtic and Christian traditions. Depending upon which source you prefer, the costumes were meant to serve as either a reminder of the departed or a method of disguising oneself from/scaring away vengeful ghosts.
The offering of food and drink to appease what the ancient Celts called Aos Sí – spirits who could more easily appear in the human world this time of year – were intended to ensure the survival of livestock and winter crops. Alongside that, children would paint their faces and imitate these Aos Sí threatening mischief if not granted a boon of treats.
When Christianity began to take hold across Ireland, Scotland and the northern islands, ancient traditions were assimilated. The practice of “Souling” on the holy day of All Hallows’ Eve was performed by (usually) poor children who would go door to door to collect soul cakes in exchange for prayers for both the dead and the living.
The association of witches and their male counterparts – warlocks – has long been associated with Halloween going back to the Celt observance of Samhain, the Old Irish observance of the end of summer and beginning of harvest. The centuries have seen the meaning of these peaceable naturalists morphed into the image we retain today; cackling, malicious practitioners of arcane magic.
How about a warlock that won’t scare you? That’s precisely what Southern Tier Brewing created when they blended their already-amazing Pumpking Ale concept with imperial Stout. Part of their Blackwater Series, Warlock is the perfect beer for the end of October. Deep and dark both in color and flavor, this beer delivers strong doses of natural pumpkin, gingerbread and nutmeg inside a costume of chocolate, coffee and roasted grain. Drinking one of these is the liquid equivalent of having a slice of pumpkin pie topped with chocolate whipped cream and a cup o’ Joe. Just like Halloween, we look forward to its arrival every year.
Then if you really want to get into the spirit of things, Sea Dog Brewery has sent us a keg of their highly-limited release Trick ‘R Treater. This is a chocolate and peanut butter brown ale of which their Florida brew master only made a small batch! Like pretty much everyone’s favorite Halloween candy – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – this mahogany brown ale delivers as advertised in the flavor department. Very smooth but, unlike candy, guaranteed to not rot your teeth.
There’s a couple of treats to appease those who have gone beyond the beyond.
Happy Halloween, everyone!