Candy and Beer: A Devilish Halloween Pairing


With Halloween right around the corner, Jeff Van Der Tuuk, the beverage director at Chicago’s SideDoor has taken a look back into his childhood memories of dumping bags full of hard-earned candy out on a table after a long evening of trick-or-treating in all of its costumed glory. He’s done this by pairing some classic Halloween candies with large-format beer offerings.

Van Der Tuuk says that candy pairs well with beer because of the myriad flavors associated with both. “Due to the fact that malty beers tend to have chocolate tasting notes, they pair with a variety of candy bars. Additionally, fruit-forward candies mellow out the tartness in sour beers, which will create a balanced flavor profile on your palate.”

His inspiration for these combinations is the season of Fall itself. “Fall tends to lend the release of multiple malty beers that, as unexpected to most, pair very well with candy.” In general, malt-forward beer has always complemented flavors like rich, dark and milk chocolate. “Additionally, this year, our sour beer list is very extensive, which provides us with the opportunity to showcase how well it pairs with tart candies.” The sweet, sometimes tart tasting notes of sugary candy is a great partner with tangy, sour beers. This is a combination many people aren’t used to putting together.

What makes Halloween a great beer holiday?

Who doesn’t want a malty beer on a cold October night? “As the weather turns colder, the release of Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers presents a heavier, more complex brew that guests tend to crave and consume at a higher rate.” Halloween is a great beer holiday because it lends the opportunity to enjoy such beers. Pairing them with candy is just a natural progression for those individuals who still feel like little kids when they see carved pumpkins on door steps.


Van Der Tuuk’s selections showcase the versatility of pairing beer with unexpected bites. “Unlike wine, beer provides more seasonality, which allows each brew to be paired with much more than your typical wine pairing. For example, I enjoy exposing guests to sour beers to encourage them to expand their palates. Traditionally, most people are unaware that sour beers are a perfect complement to cheese – a dish typically enjoyed with wine.”

Chocolate Candy Pairings:

  • Kit Kat – Evil Twin Biscotti Break Imperial Stout, Denmark (22oz, 11.5% ABV). Tasting notes: coffee, chocolate
  • M&M’s – Uinta Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale, UT (750ml, 10.3% ABV). Tasting notes: oak-aged, pumpkin, spice
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – 3 Floyds Moloko Milk Stout, IN (22oz, 8% ABV). Tasting notes: milk sugar, vanilla, roasted sweet malt

Sweet and Tart Candy Pairings:

  • Nerds – Rodenbach Caractere Rouge, Belgium (750ml, 7% ABV). Tasting notes: cranberry, raspberry, tart cherry, oak
  • Starburst – The Bruery Oude Tart, CA (750ml, 7.5% ABV). Tasting notes: tart cherry, black currant, toasted oak
  • SweetTarts – Duchesse de Bourgogne, Belgium (750ml, 6% ABV). Tasting notes: black cherry, oak, dry finish

Located in Chicago’s River North historic McCormick Mansion, SideDoor is a gastropub that features American style faire, a large selection of craft beer and finely crafted cocktails.