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Iowa beer picks inspired by new and classic horror movies


Photos courtesy of the breweries

Whatever movies you watch this October, don’t just sit there with glazed eyes dipping your hand into the Halloween candy bowl over and over again until you realize the trick-or-treaters are knocking and all that’s left for them are a few Tootsie Rolls and orange Starburst. Drink some local beer as well!

The concepts are creative, the style choices bold, and the contents not suitable for children: It’s time for creepy films and craft beer!

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Legend has it the Creature swims up the Mississippi each autumn just to pillage the tailgate parties. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village
Wade Wisely, Big Grove Brewery (Solon, Iowa City, Des Moines)

Don’t you hate it when you’re tubing on the river sippin’ a cold one and suddenly a webbed hand wraps around your ankle and pulls you down into some Devonian fish-incel’s watery lair? Skip the hassle and flop on the couch with a pack of Wade Wisely, a seasonal favorite in a fishy can from Big Grove. This malty coffee oatmeal stout was developed in 2019 in collaboration with Driftless Flyathlon, and proceeds from its sale benefit organizations leading efforts to clean up Iowa’s trout streams. A dark, complex beer pairs well with one of the best creature features of the 20th century — or so Guillermo Del Toro told me on our first date. Candy pairing: Salt water taffy

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Leatherface? I hardly know her! Ba-dum-tss. — Legendary Entertainment
Bubba, Backpocket Brewing (Coralville, Davenport)

We find out in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 that Leatherface’s real name is Bubba Sawyer. He’s a salt-of-the-earth Texan who works a blue-collar job at the slaughterhouse, hunts and butchers game to feed his family, and totally OWNED a van of college-age libs that trespassed on his property. Ol’ Bubba’s the kind of guy Greg Abbott would have a beer with. Perhaps that beer would be Backpocket’s Bubba — opaque as a hazy IPA comes, citrus-y and yellow as Southern sunshine, but hefty, like the weight of a chainsaw in your hands. Candy pairing: Whoppers

Eraserhead (1977)

Parenthood is a pain in the head. — AFI / Libra Films
Black Lager, Clock House Brewing (Cedar Rapids)

This cult classic depicting the surreal, horny, oozing adventures of one Kramer-haired guy caring for his deformed offspring is David Lynch’s first feature film, and as horrifying as it is absurd. Though you’d need something stronger than beer to get on Eraserhead’s wavelength, the Black Lager from Clock House Brewing — which celebrated its fifth anniversary on Sept. 24 — combines dark and bright flavors (dark-roasted malt, bitter hops, floral and coffee notes) in the same clever way Lynch utilizes black and white film. And black and white viscous fluid. Candy pairing: Gushers

Jurassic Park (1993)

“IAN, FREEZE!” — Universal Studios
Extinction Event, Confluence Brewing Co. (Des Moines)

The goofiness of the Jurassic World trilogy (and that talking raptor in JP III) may have obscured how terrifyingly clever (wink) Spielberg’s original was, blending cutting-edge effects with a brilliant sci-fi story to petrify audiences. A rainy night and that booming John Williams score would go nicely with Confluence’s Extinction Event, their ever-evolving hazy IPA. Each batch has a slightly different dino-covered can illustration, and slightly different DNA — allowing the Des Moines brewers to experiment with different combinations of malt and hops. Ian Malcolm might not approve, but how can we stand in the light of discovery and not act? Candy pairing: Butterfingers

Midsommar (2019)

When the edible hits. — A24
Floral Pilsner, ReUnion Brewery (Coralville)

Auteur-horror is divisive, but I think most Midsommar viewers can agree director Ari Aster succeeds at capturing the sun-drenched, flower-strewn atmosphere of a secluded Swedish commune during a summer solstice ritual massacre, er, celebration. ReUnion’s Floral Pilsner is not quite as hypnotic as the spiked tea served by the Hårga to sad tourist Florence Pugh, but it’s light enough to sip on all day (i.e. the length of the Midsommar director’s cut) and may soothe your nerves when the bodies hit the floor, so to speak. The pilsner is made with Iowa-grown Floral Saaz hops and is definitely not formulated to bring about your eventual doom. Candy pairing: Swedish Fish

Candyman (2021)

A sweet talkin’, sugar-coated Candyman… — Monkeypaw Productions/MGM/Universal
Honey Gold, Lion Bridge Brewing Co. (Cedar Rapids)

This reboot returns to Chicago’s real-life, now-gentrified Cabrini-Green neighborhood to explore the violent (and thankfully fictional) urban legend that inspired a horror franchise. This installment fails to tell as compelling a story as the 1992 original, but Nia DaCosta — the first Black woman director to have a number-one box-office debut — sets a high visual standard for this new decade of horror. Candyman’s hook is dripping in blood and honey, but Lion Bridge Brewery only dripped Iowa honey into their Honey Gold ale; specifically, honey farmed by the apiarists at Indian Creek Nature Center. So refreshing, you’ll want to drink it five times in a row. Candy pairing: Candy corn

Bonus Pairings

Arnold Schwarzen-who? — Hulu

Prey (2022) + Soul Hunter, double IPA, Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. (Decorah)

Last Night in Soho (2021) + Raspberry Beret Sour, fruited sour, House Divided Brewery (Ely)

Titane (2021) + Blonde Fatale, Belgian-style blonde ale, Peace Tree Brewing Co. (Knoxville, Des Moines)

The Babadook (2014) + Kid Gloves, Belgian-style white ale, Quarter Barrel Arcade and Brewery (Cedar Rapids)

Children of the Corn (1984) + Only in Iowa, imperial/double IPA, Iowa Brewing Company (Cedar Rapids)

An American Werewolf in London (1981) + Wolfdog, Czech-style dark lager, Third Base Brewery (Cedar Rapids)

Friday the 13th (1980) + Camp Shadyshore, lemon shandy, Toppling Goliath

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) + Devil’s Advocate, IPA, Millstream Brewing Co. (Amana)

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 311.


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