“There’s children throwing snowballs / instead of throwing heads / they’re busy building toys / and absolutely no one’s dead!” So sang Jack Skellington in Tim Burton’s bedtime story of a Christmas gone wrong, Nightmare before Christmas. Peaks and Pints adores this flick. In fact, we built today’s craft beer flight around the movie, Craft Beer Crosscut 12.7.18: A Flight For Jack Skellington. Nightmare Before Christmas tells the tale of Skellington, The Pumpkin King of Halloween, who, growing bored of his seasonal work, decides to move out of his comfort zone, assuming the mantle of his physical opposite: Santa Claus. Despite his best intentions, the support of an adoring Halloween Town and the love of a rag doll creation named Sally, Jack’s plans go terribly awry and almost wreck both seasons. However, because of his own insight and the love of his friends, Jack rallies and is able to save Christmas from the villainous hands of bug monster Oogie Boogie. Anyhoo, Peaks and Pints has picked five scary Christmas beers for Jack Skellington and you. To kind of quote Skellington, “Forgive us, Mr. Claus. We’re afraid we’ve made a terrible mess of your holiday.”
Craft Beer Crosscut 12.7.18: A Flight For Jack Skellington
6.66% ABV, 10 IBU
AleSmith Brewing Co.’s Evil Dead Red ale, a Halloween seasonal release, leans toward a winter warmer. Amber and red ales fall in an awkward in-between area of beer styles. They haven’t really caught on in the U.S. with nearly the same fervor as IPAs or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, barrel-aged porters or stouts. Who knows why beers that strike a balance of malts and hops seem to be out of fashion nowadays. But for the moderately-minded beer lover with an affinity for zombie-branded products, AleSmith nails it with Evil Dead. It’s blood-red and smells like a pine forest bathed in moonlight where Jack Skellington dances and sings. It also has a sweet bite from a caramel-smooth malt backbone that’s richly bready and a bit toasty, with some fruit, dry wood and floral hops — perfect for sipping on a crisp December night.
9.2% ABV, 50 IBU
A Christmas beer with a pirate skull and crossbones donning the bottle? This one is for you, Jack Skellington! George and Jane Hancock founded the ma-and-pa Maritime Pacific Brewing Company in an old transmission shop in 1990 in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. In 1997 they opened the Jolly Roger Taproom named, as they say, “in honor of our most popular holiday brew”: Jolly Roger Christmas Ale. A beer fridge staple, Jolly Roger English Strong Ale combines rich malt character with a blend of fresh Northwest Chinook and Cascade hops.
7.2% ABV, 60 IBU
Ninkasi Brewing’s motivation for creating Sleigh’r was to make a beer different than other Northwest winter beers that feature big hop profiles and rich caramel flavor. Jack Skellington will tell you Ninkasi brewed it because they dig American thrash metal band Slayer. “Shades of death are all I see / Skeletons of Society / Shades of death are all I see / Fragments of what used to be / Skeletons of Society,” so sings Slayer — and Skellington, too, we’re sure. Any way, Ninkasi created a malt-forward yet dry, toasty and hardy beer brewed in the traditional German Alt way, only darker. First released in 2009, Sleigh’r rides roasted barley and Chocolate malts with Nugget hops balancing roasted malt, cooked sugar and a little dark fruit flavors. It’s surprisingly light in body with a dry finish.
7.5% ABV, 65 IBU
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” sung by former jockey Jimmy Boyd, takes a humorous approach to a child’s shocking discovery of his mother’s infidelity. The Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon, brews a beer that pairs with Mommy’s merry adulterer — Bad Santa. This mysterious dark elixir is filled with complex malt flavors and aromas with toasted malt and roast character, blending seamlessly to the alluring herbal hop aroma that comes from copious amounts of Fuggle hops. Bad Santa doesn’t care if Jack Skellington has been naughty or nice; he just wants Mommy.
11.5% ABV, 70 IBU
A gruff bulldog wearing a Santa hat while smoking a stogie? That’s the imagine that greets when handed a Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws barleywine bottle. That’s the imagine Jack Skellington holds precious. People have been making pilgrimages to Portland for Alan Sprints’ beer since the dark ages — back when hazy and sour beers weren’t made that way intentionally. Hair of the Dog’s Doggie Claws holiday-themed barleywine is brewed with Simcoe and Amarillo hops along with Organic Pilsner malt, British crystal and dark wild flower honey collected on Mount Hood. It smells of thick, decadent caramel coupled with notes of raisins, molasses and dark fruits. First sip brings a sweet caramel-raisin infused maltiness that carries hints of dark fruits, cherry and sourdough. This is followed by a nice wave of piney, citric, herbal hop bitterness causing a nice interplay between the sweet and bitter aspects of the craft beer. Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay!