Brew Tracks: Halloween Edition

Have you ever noticed the perfect relationship between music and beer? You’ve been there; tucked away in a dark, dingy bar listening to a band you’ve never heard of. Now imagine that without a beer in your hand. Blasphemy!

Music is a big part of the craft beer scene. And craft beer is a big part of the music scene, with smaller, local bands being especially well paired with the craft beer industry.

One craft brewery that has taken this relationship a step further is Collective Arts Brewing, which also happens to be right in our backyard of Hamilton.

Anyone who has picked up a Collective Arts bottle or can has seen their unique labels. Each label displays the artwork of local or global musicians and artists. The brewery is focused on supporting musicians and making them part of the Collective Arts family.

Since opening their retail store in September, Collective Arts has been introducing their north end Hamilton neighbours to a whole new type of beer: Something very different from the Lakeport beer they were buying the last time the brewery was operational.

Early in October, Collective Arts released a seasonal pumpkin beer that is anything but your typical pumpkin offering!

To enjoy this unique local beer, from a brewery that loves musicians, we found an equally unique horror-themed album from Hamilton-based Scarlett & Disher (with Mark Lenover). Who doesn’t want a soundtrack for their beer review?

The beer


Boo! Pumpkin Sour Saison is an ambitious beer from a brewery that has never released a seasonal beer. Although once strange and unexpected, pumpkin beers have become a core seasonal offering for breweries (both macro and craft). Many are classified as pumpkin ales and run the risk of being as predictable as the plotline of a Halloween movie. The pumpkin beer scale seems to go from pale ale (plus some spice) through to liquid pumpkin pie.

With Boo!, Collective Arts has created something different for beer drinkers in southern Ontario.

Before you drink Boo! the pumpkin, or more so the spice, is very noticeable in the aroma. From smell, you might be led to expect something on the pumpkin pie end of the scale. The taste quickly disproves that assumption.

This is definitely not an ale. There is an immediate sourness, which quickly balances out with subtle bitterness and sweetness. The beer ends up being quite smooth with a pumpkin, cinnamon spiciness aftertaste. I’ve heard a few people describe it as drinking like a cider, but I don’t think that’s accurate.

Not everyone will love this beer. Much like any beer with sour notes, there is little middle ground. You’ll like it or you won’t.

The beauty in this beer is its uniqueness. A pumpkin ale would have been the expected, understandably safe choice for a brewery operating in a new space and without a track record in seasonals.

Boo! is available at the Collective Arts retail store in Hamilton and a few local establishments. If you are able to get to Hamilton, this is a beer worth the trip. That’s not something I’d normally say about a pumpkin beer. And there’s a chance you won’t like Boo! But that’s a risk worth taking.

If you’re like me, you’ll simply appreciate tasting a pumpkin beer that takes a risk.

The music

“You will never escape! You will never wake! NIGHTMARE HOUSE!”

These are the ominous words that accompany Nightmare House, the latest release from Hamilton’s own Scarlett & Disher. It’s a two-part album that’s half ‘80s-inspired synth-pop and half instrumental, but 100% spooky. Enter: NIGHTMARE HOUSE!

Nightmare House is a Halloween-themed adventure that sounds like the soundtrack to a 1980s horror-themed Bond movie starring David Bowie. The first six tracks take clear inspiration from monster movies (tracks five and six) and awesome slasher flicks (tracks one through four) like Friday the 13th and Halloween, with a bit of David Lynch added in for good measure. It’s haunting and eerie and brings a feeling of urgency and danger, complete with occasional sound effects like screams and footsteps, but nothing too cheesy or overdone. Fans of experimental ‘80s pop and even some psychedelic rock will love these tracks.

Vocals are very cool and main vocalist Laura Scarlett is perfect for this album. Her voice has a haunting ethereal quality, which is just enough to give you a serious case of the creeps. Combined with the supporting vocals of David Disher and Mark Lenover, the sound is perfectly meshed and moody, and just super groovy.

The instrumental part of the album, tracks seven on, are the soundtrack to the nonexistent film Nightmare House. The intro immediately sounds perfect for a movie like Halloween – I can picture a first-person view through the opening credits and the initial suspense that comes with slasher films. There are a few points in the following tracks, like in “The Monster Appears”, that actually put me on edge – take a listen and you’ll see what I mean. Some of the tracks, like the end credits, are very sci-fi and Dr. Who-ish, a great thing if you’re a fan. My favourite song is probably “Death Theme”, because I’m dark like that, but overall these songs fit together to tell a cool story – and what would be a really great movie.

Nightmare House is the perfect soundtrack for your Halloween night. It’s dark and ominous, and whether you love Halloween or are just a fan of electronic pop and synthesizers, you will love this album. As you’re sipping your beer and handing out candy to people who are probably too old for trick-or-treating, enter the creepiness that is Nightmare House – if you dare!


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