Leftover Halloween Candy and Beer Pairings
It’s inevitable. The day after Halloween, you’ll go to nab a bite-size snack of your favorite candy, only to find that your kids — or office coworkers — have already raided the stash. You’re stuck with the bottom-of-the-bucket candies. Boo.
This year, we’re giving you some tricks to help you get the best out of those Halloween candies no one seems to want. We believe every Halloween candy deserves its time to shine, and beer has the power to bring out unexpectedly delicious interactions in foods to create an entirely new experience.
We encourage you to bring some life to these infamous sweets with these Halloween candy and beer pairings.
Pairing: Candy Corn + Cream Ale
Candy corn has been around since the 19th century; coincidentally, so have cream ales. This refreshingly crisp, light-bodied golden ale has a balanced sweetness and high carbonation making it the perfect beer to accompany candy corn’s sweet vanilla-marshmallow flavor.
(Related: Beer and Food Pairing Guide)
Pairing: Good & Plenty + Pastry Stout
Good & Plenty are black licorice covered in a candy shell. The rich sweetness and silky mouthfeel of a complex pastry stout is just what these bitter, complicated candies call for. The notes of anise from the black licorice treat are a surprisingly welcome complement alongside the decadent chocolate and subtle spices found in a variety of sweet dessert stouts.
Pairing: Tootsie Rolls + English-Style Barleywine
Tootsie Rolls might be overlooked and labeled as an outdated, one-dimensional confection. But you’ll bring the candy to a new level when you pair it with a complex English-style barleywine. The barleywine’s caramel-toffee malt character welcomes the creamy chocolate sweetness of the Tootsie Roll and balances it with subtle warmth and bready-biscuit notes.
Pairing: Atomic Fireballs + Belgian-Style Quadruple
Spice up your life! As advertised, Atomic Fireballs can be overpowering, but the dark fruit notes and earthy spice of a Belgian-style quad will leave you well equipped to contain the candy’s heat. The Belgian yeast strains impart complex, spicy notes that naturally complement the sweet cinnamon heat from the Atomic Fireballs to give you plenty of warmth during cool autumn evenings.
Pairing: Tootsie Fruit Chews + Berliner-Style Weisse
The candy cousin of Tootsie Rolls, Fruit Chews never seem to be in short supply in that Halloween bucket. These candies come in a variety of “fruit” flavors (but somehow remain indistinguishable from each other) and pair well with a Berliner-style Weisse beer. The tart acidity and sweetness found in these traditional, sour German-style wheat beers are well suited to build upon the candy’s creamy, sugary, tart fruit flavor while remaining sessionable enough to knock out a whole bag if you feel so inclined. Bonus points for adding raspberry or Woodruff syrup to the beer to really bring out the fruit flavors.
Pairing: Dots + New England IPA
Hazy/New England IPAs are everything a gumdrop should be: juicy, sweet, and exploding with fruit flavor. Dots don’t exactly hit all these marks with their hard texture and hint of fruit flavor, but the redeeming quality keeping them in circulation for all these years is their generous supply of syrupy sweetness, making them a worthy companion to the big, aromatic hops and the tropical fruit flavors of a New England IPA.
Pairing: Sixlets + German-Style Märzen/Oktoberfest
Sixlets are round candy-coated chocolates that are typically outshined by their beloved cousin, the M&M. Unlike M&Ms, Sixlets contain a slight malt flavor, which position them as a great pairing with an easy-drinking Oktoberfest. The rich character of roasted malt helps bring out the desirable qualities of the candies while the beer style’s semi-dry finish properly balances the Sixlets’ sweet candy shells.
(Related: Beer & Food Course)
Pairing: Smarties + Fruited Kettle Sour
Smarties are essentially sugar tablets with a faint tartness and vague resemblance of fruit flavor. Their shot of sweetness lends the perfect helping hand to welcome the mild to intense tartness in a variety of kettle sours and enhance any fruit additions that exist.
Pairing: Milk Duds + Amber Ale
Despite their odd shape and a “Will I bust a filling?” chewy texture, Milk Duds provide a milk chocolate and caramel pairing slam dunk themselves. But trust us: you haven’t lived until you’ve had a box of Milk Duds in one hand and a glass of a sessionable amber ale beer in the other. The amber ale provides plenty of crystal malt to enhance the Milk Duds’ chocolate as well as impart additional caramel notes. You’ll also find a slight, dry bitterness emerges — until you realize both your glass and the little yellow box are empty.
Next time you see these lonely, slim picked sweets at the bottom of the Halloween candy bucket, don’t get spooked; swing over to your local brewery, grab some beer to go, and put your sweet tooth to work and make the most of it.