What makes a beer perfect for Halloween?

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Spooky specials: what makes a beer appropriate for Halloween?
Spooky specials: what makes a beer appropriate for Halloween?

Related tags Beer Halloween

The market for beers relating to Halloween is one full of energy, but what does a beer really need to do to match the spooky season? The Morning Advertiser spoke to brewers to find out.

Hobgoblin has been declared the 'unofficial beer of Halloween'.​ Sarah Mahoney, marketing manager for Wychwood Brewery, said the ruby red ale's evocative autumnal flavours and trailblazing branding had made it so successful.

Hobgoblin Beer

She said: “When we first started doing Halloween activities 13 years ago, it wasn’t the £350m trading occasion that it is today.

"The essence of the Hobgoblin character and the DNA of the brand is rooted in myths and legends and mischief, which lent itself to Halloween really well.

Dark malt

“We’ve built an unrivalled position really, both at a customer and consumer level because we were the orginial beer and the first brand to ever start talking Halloween.”

“The turn of season into autumn, evenings get darker, nights are longer, you do see a real shift into darker beers or stouts – the ales really come into season when the weather turns colder. Darker beers become more popular as autumn sets in, Mahoney said.

“Hobgoblin is quite high ABV, it’s brewed with chocolate malt and hops which arrive quite full-bodied.

“It delivers that toffee malt flavour – when I think of autumn flavours it’s toffee, treacle, chocolate, pumpkin, and dark malt delivers those. It’s not just Halloween, it’s the autumn season, Bonfire night, going into winter as well."

Bucket of Blood

Myth and mystery

Brewed by St Austell Brewery, the 4.5% ABV Bucket of Blood, is another emblematic Halloween beer and its brewers admit a bloody backstory is key to its popularity.

The red ale infused with spicy hops is named after the brewery’s pub in Hayle, Cornwall. According to folklore, two centuries ago, the pub landlord pulled up a bucket of blood from the well before discovering the body of the local taxman.

Brewing director, Roger Ryman added: “Bucket of Blood has been one of our most eagerly anticipated annual brews since we first launched it in 2009.

“It’s a unique beer and its warm, spicy flavours are perfect for Halloween and the winter months.

"This near blood red ale is full of biscuit malt flavours with a balanced bitter-sweet finish and is a chillingly perfect complement for pubgoers during the October festivities.”

Pumpkins and catchy branding

Mark Justin, organiser of the Wandsworth Common Halloween beer festival that will stock around 100 beers on the theme, said there was now a real market for Halloween beers.

He said: “The ones that sell well have very Halloween-themed names, they won’t sell once Halloween is over. Most brewers do something for Halloween, as they do for the World Cup or royal weddings.”


Justin pointed to ales that use pumpkin spice in the brew, such as the speciality bitter Downton Brewery's Pumpkin Ale.

“The ones with pumpkins in the brew are supposed to be the only really authentic Halloween ones, with the other ones it’s all in the name,” he said.

Cider is not left out of the occasion either. “With apple bobbing competitions at Halloween events, cider sales soar during Halloween,” Justin added.

The festival will stock scores of beers with witchy or gothic branding, including Cross Bay’s Witching Hour, Acorn Brewery’s Phantasm, and Heritage’s Witch Ale.

However, smoked beers that use smoked barley never sell as well in Britain as expected, according to Justin.

Related topics Beer

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