Good evening, my friends. Glad you could make it. I hope everyone enjoyed our little rest with Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale because tonight, we’re headed right back into the dark heart of Halloween. Today’s beer is all about evil, darkness, and pumpkins with hats. A beer brewed under the direction of the most black-hearted brew master (maybe). What is this diabolic elixir? It’s Southern Tier’s Warlock, an Imperial stout brewed with the most heinous of gourd, the pumpkin. Ok, they aren’t heinous, but warlocks certainly are! Now, we’re all old enough to realize that it’s just a beer, and it can’t hurt you if you don’t let it. But, if our numbers are thinned a bit when the sun rises tomorrow, I think we’ll know why…(that hat-wearing pumpkin up there. Look at how sinister he looks!)
Opening the bottle, I’m greeted with a sweet, nutty, pumpkin bloom lifted straight out of a bottle of Pumking. What’s crazy about this is that I can smell it even before I bring my nose to the bottle top. The aroma is pouring out on its own, filling the air with scents of warm pumpkin pie with a mysterious undertone. Actually breathing it in, I realize that besides the pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon are the spice powerhouses, each breath bursting against your face like waking up on Thanksgiving day. Successive breaths reveal a deep, malty roastiness, buried under the pumpkin pie aroma. And, underneath the malts, there’s more – a hint of herbal earthiness that warps this pie into something dark and evil. No specific herbal notes are discernible, instead just adding a foreboding, heavy blackness that let’s you know this isn’t your father’s pumpkin beer.
Working up my nerve, I take my first drink. The same pumpkin pie explosion hammers the tongue from the moment the first drop falls from the bottle. Nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice mix with pumpkin and graham cracker to create nothing short of black, liquid pie. Deep roasted malts pour in from the bottom, providing a dark, stoutish base on which the pie is presented, and also smuggling in a sharp, hoppy bitterness that makes its way to the back of the tongue. Again, just like with the aroma, the same mysterious herbalness darts around under everything else, bringing the slightest of harsh edges to each taste for just an instant, before fading under the rich pumpkin onslaught. It’s like they’re waiting, biding their time and gathering their dark armies. You can just taste the evil power coursing through this beer. Under a mask of comfort and warmth, there’s a heavy darkness, like that friendly neighbor everyone thinks is the best guy ever, but you know better. You saw those weird red lights coming from his basement one night. And you know that in the past two months, he’s brought 24 girlfriends home, but you never see any of them leave. Sure, he may wear old man sweaters and wave at you every morning on your way to work, but you know…you know he’s hiding something…Ted Smithfield is his name, but I just call him Crazy Ted. I’ve always wanted to sneak into his house – poke around a bit. But I’ve never worked up the nerve…Until now. Just a few mouthfuls of this Warlock has given me enough courage to get my sleuth on. Your days of evil and mystery are over, Crazy Ted!
Ok, I’m currently sneaking through my neighbors’ back yards as I make my way over to Crazy Ted’s. In the meantime, the poured aroma of this beer is much like the bottle smell. The massive eruption of pumpkin pie still bursts against the nose like an atomic pumpkin air burst. Nutmeg is the dominant spice, with a slight hop kick underneath. Once again, the ever-present earthy darkness sulks at the very bottom of each breath, cleverly hidden by warmth and comfort given off by the heavy pumpkin richness. It draws you in deeper and deeper with a mouth-watering intrigue, showing only the slightest hint of something darker. It pours a midnight black, slightly thinner than other Imperial Stouts. The head is tan, fizzy, and fades quickly. And, I’ve finally arrived at Ted’s cellar door. It’s open, which is odd, but I don’t think about it too much before disappearing down into the darkness in front of me. I’m surrounded by blackness, but there’s a faint, pulsing red glow ahead of me. I can’t see what it is from here, so I’m going to go check it out.
I’m creeping down a damp, pitch black hallway, heading towards that glow as silently as I can. The floor is soft, muffling my footsteps, and there’s a low, constant rumbling all around me that, while helping me sneak around unnoticed, it’s also starting to get into my head. It’s a constant throbbing of sound, pressing in against my ears. Wait, what’s that? There’s a raspy moaning sound, like an asthmatic statue breathing through a straw. My heart is in my throat, beating fast enough to jump out of my mouth and run away, but I’ve come too far. I need to know what’s going on down here. I need to reveal Ted for the monster he is. Plus, the cellar door shut behind me when I climbed through it, so I couldn’t leave if I wanted to.
I finally reach the end of the hall, and I find myself staring at a warped wooden door. It creaks open with the lightest of touches, revealing..well, words can’t properly describe what I see…Just like describing the taste of this beer, post pour. Massive pumpkin flavors crash against the tongue, powered by pumpkin pie spices, bitter hops, and huge roasted malts. The deep, dark earthiness that has been such a mystery finally reveals itself as notes of ginger and anise. While you’re lost within the pumpkin and earth notes, the malts continue to build, growling heavier and heavier until pure darkness suddenly consumes your mouth. Against the tongue, it feels crisp and slightly bubbly up front, but grows heavy and clings to the mouth soon after. It holds on with a death grip for quite a while, creating an aftertaste of pumpkin and spices amongst a bed of super roasted malts.
The room itself is one of unimaginable horror. Piles of bodies, body parts, animal heads, surgical tools, barrels of blood and this weird red, stringy moss are all over the room. Huge, black mushrooms grow in all four corners, dripping a bright yellow ooze that hisses as it hits the floor. But perhaps the most horrendous sight is in the middle of the room. Atop a blood soaked surgical table, strapped down and connected to odd machinery is some kind of…man. It has two heads, three arms, the body of a ram, and what looks like two pairs of eagle wings sewn onto its back. It’s a scene of nightmare – evil in its darkest form. Wait…I hear something…Footsteps. Someone is coming!
I dive behind a pile of arms and legs, holding my breath as Crazy Ted shambles into the room. Even down here, he still wears that old man sweater. It’s strange. Trapped down here in this hell cellar, the only thing I can think of is this beer. It’s as dark as its namesake, and as cunning to boot. A powerful pumpkin warmth invites you in, casting a false sense of friendly comfort over a beer of pure black. Massive pumpkin pie flavor rides a hell-borne chariot of roasted malts and mysterious earthy flavors, forcing you to discover the secrets on your own, through any means necessary. A thinner than normal feel let’s you know that something about this beer is not what it seems, but it isn’t until you pour and delve deep into the underground lab of death that you realize the horrible truth. Notes of ginger and anise will mingle with the ever dominating pumpkin, confirming your darkest fears: this beer is superbly delicious, and Ted Smithfield is a necromancer. I’m still watching him from the shadows behind this pile of extremities. He keeps mumbling to himself. I can’t make out the words, but it’s the same sound over and over. Wait…he’s starting to pull the tubes and cables from the dead…ram-beast thing…It sounds like he’s chanting. It almost sounds like..Ram’toth shrg’lelith dronyth belibbeth shog’ramthesth. Oh my God! It’s moving…the ram-beast is moving! And screaming! Screaming like a man assaulted by the most anguished pain imaginable. Exposed muscles are tensing, flexing under rotting skin. The arms are moving and…Oh my God! A ram hoof just exploded through Ted’s chest. Bits of rib and heart grizzle splatter against my face. I try to stifle a scream, but I suddenly feel the beast’s eyes burning into me. He see’s me! Oh God, I can’t move. I can’t move! Help! Oh God, help! H……
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Crime Scene Report
Location 27421: Residence of Ted Montgomery Smithfield (dec.)
Filed October 21, 2013
Evidence Marker C: Paper scrap retrieved from cellar body
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My suggestions for this beer are at Thanksgiving dinner, on Halloween night as you’re wearing your best gorilla costume and jumping out from behind trees to scare teenagers, and any cold, winter day when you need a little warmth to get you moving again. My horror genre is a double offering this time. Either dark fantasy flicks, which are anything with some kind of evil wizard, or at least some guy that can control (un)dead things, and anything that looks like it has been inspired by Lovecraft. Why? Why not, I say. Southern Tier’s Warlock earns a black-souled A. It’s a good thing I wrote down my suggestions before climbing into Ted’s cellar. I forgot to bring a pen with me…
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 9.4/10 A
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End of Evidence Marker C
Identity of body unknown
Whereabouts of assailant unknown
Case document 55834A-C
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