There’s nothing quite like popping on a horror flick and cracking a cold one. Add in a pizza or two and the unholy trifecta becomes complete. Primo relaxation mode engaged. But perhaps the most beautiful aspect of the beer and horror relationship is the fact that the love goes both ways. For as many horror fans with a deep love for beer, there are just as many brewers, artists and companies that share a love for the genre. And believe it or not, this is a relationship with roots that run deep.
For many mainstream beer companies, beer label artwork is often relegated to second tier status due to the obvious marketing complications that would ensue. However, this is an area where craft breweries thrive. Due to the nature of their smaller markets, smaller batches and often seasonal rotations, craft breweries have the flexibility to creatively highlight their unique identities. There’s a freedom that comes from operating as a smaller, indie business. A freedom to change. A freedom to experiment. A freedom to collaborate with community organizations, events and artists. It’s an often overlooked aspect of the industry and it’s certainly one that deserves more respect.
In an effort to highlight some of the incredible artists and breweries that have incorporated an appreciation for the genre into their product, here is a list of 10 killer brews and their horror (and horror-adjacent) inspired beer cans. Special thanks to my dad, Joe Prin, for letting me pick through his enormous personal collection of cans for this article. Cheers!
10. Troll Destroyer – 18th Street Brewery (Hammond, IN)
According to the label “In folklore, Trolls live only to cause others grief.” With it’s 8.5% alcohol content and easy drinkability, there’s a high potential this statement also rang true for the beer itself. Originally brewed back in 2014, Troll Destroyer was a Belgian IPA that certainly lived up to it’s name. With a sweet, citrus aroma up front, and a heavy El Dorado hop flavor, the beer’s unique balance of strength and sweetness cultivated many tales of wonder and woe. Since retired, the Troll‘s legacy lives on through the incredible can art by artist Joey Potts.
Pairs well with: Troll 2, Troll Hunter and Ghoulies
9. Independence Day Film Tie-In Coors Light – Coors Brewing (Golden, CO)
Remember that time that Coors Light created a special can to celebrate the release of Independence Day? No? Well…that’s understandable. Very rarely has a beer, especially one as large as Coors Light, been allowed to cross promote with such a large, studio production. However, the more one thinks about it, the more it makes sense. Independence Day was a giant blockbuster in July of 1996. It was a film that everyone could get behind. It was fun, it was exciting. A perfect summer release that went down smooth and easy. It also was quintessentially mainstream. Much like Coors Light itself.
Pairs well with: War of the Worlds (2005), Men in Black and Independence Day
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8. Batsquatch – Rogue Ales (Newport, OR)
Embodying the murky mystery surrounding the fabled Mount St. Helen’s cryptid, Batsquatch is a perfect hazy IPA. With it’s balanced blends of El Dorado and Belma hops, imperial juice yeast and sweet, outdoorsy aroma it is prime fodder for campfire adjacent sipping. Worried about dulling your senses while staking out this mystical beast? Fear not. With it’s reasonable 6.7% alcohol level, Batsquatch provides just the right amount of kick while still leaving you alert and observant. Art by Rogue’s in-house designer, Evan Bartholomew.
Pairs well with: The Mothman Prophecies, Willow Creek and Bats
7. Brain Belt Zombie Pub Crawl – August Schell Brewing Company (New Ulm, MN)
When it comes to pub crawls, especially zombie themed pub crawls, Minneapolis, Minnesota reigns supreme. Like, literally. Crowned by the Guinness Book of World Records for having the ‘World’s Largest Gathering of Zombies,’ 2019 marked the 15th year for the spooky gathering. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the popular event brewed its very own beer to mark the occasion. With its light ABV (4.9%), this American Lager makes for the event pairing. Light enough to go down easy and keep a zombie walking long into the night.
Pairs well with: Shaun of the Dead, Evil Dead II and Dawn of the Dead
6. I-P-Alien – Odd13 Brewery (Laafayette, CO)
Not just a clever naming scheme, I-P-Alien boasts a hop selection that is out of this world. A mix of Apollo, Comet and Galaxy hops gives the IPA a juicy, fruity flavor that truly embodies the can’s beautiful artwork. Consistently pulling high scores from both critics and civilians alike, the annual seasonal release is one that keeps fans coming back for more. Killer artwork courtesy of freelance artist and illustrator Jesse Glenn.
Pairs well with: Aliens, Attack the Block and Pitch Black
5. CreepShow – Warped Wing Brewing Company (Dayton, OH)
I could try and say it better, but I wouldn’t, so here is a perfect description from Warped Wing themselves. “When night falls, spirits rise. A ghostly figure, a redheaded woman, drifts the city tracks, eternally lost. The anguish of the departed, a man who impaled himself on an orchestra pit chair, chills a historic theater. Forlorn howls and scraping claws-wolves, buried with their owner, alive-seep from a nearby mausoleum. CreepShow Smoked Porter. Smokey. Malty. Dark as Dayton without a moon.”
Pairs well with: Creepshow 2, House of 1000 Corpses and The Howling
4. Anoka Halloween Festival Beer Can Set – August Schell Brewing (New Ulm, MN)
This very special four can set was issued between 1978 and 1981 in celebration of the annual Anoka Halloween Festival. Self-dubbed the Halloween Capital of the World, the festival was founded in 1920 in an effort to curb pranks at the hands of restless youngsters. Along with parades, contests and a Pumpkin Bowl football game, it only made sense that the local brewery would jump on in to the festivities as well. While the beer is no more, it’s legacy lives on through this spooktacularly cute and downright adorable beer cans. Also, it should be noted that according to the can itself the beer is ‘Recommended by Vampires, Goblins and Ghosts the world over.’
Pairs well with: Hocus Pocus, Deer Hunter and Phantasm
3. Dick the Butcher – Burnt City Brewing (Chicago, IL)
Living up to its name, this Pale Ale from the Windy City is not messing around. Brewed with Cascade hops, the beer provides a sweet, grapefruit aroma, but is quick to cut it down with a sharp bite of bitterness. Not to be underestimated, there’s a beast within the hazy, yellow liquid. And at 5.3% ABV, it’s a beast that catches up to you quick. Artwork courtesy of Ian Law and Adam Muran.
Pairs well with: From Dusk Till Dawn, Hostel and Project: Metalbeast
2. Draculager – Woodland Empire (Boise, ID)
The official beer of the 2018 Idaho Horror Film Festival, Draculager embodied its undying namesake and made a return appearance at the 2019 festival as well. A supremely drinkable American Lager, it’s the perfect companion beer for a day of film screenings. Light enough to go down smooth, but enough hop flavor and ABV to provide just the right amount of…bite. Artwork created by Woodland head brewer and co-owner, Keely Landerman.
Pairs well with: Once Bitten, Blade and What We Do In The Shadows
1. Everything – Nightmare Brewing Company (Farmingdale, NY)
From inception to final execution, each and every brew from Nightmare Brewing is all killer and no filler. Inspired by metal, horror and historic events, this is a brewery that wears its heart on its sleeve…and label. For example, previous brews include the Windlass of Erasmus, a sour with bloodlike color. The Ling Chi, an Asiatic Sour Ale. The Crucifixion-Third Servile War, a Double Pale Ale brewed with sacramental bread and calypso. And let’s not forget the Blood Eagle Scandinavian-Style Sour Ale brewed with lingonberries. With incredibly detailed and gory art provided by actual metal artists, Nightmare Brewing has carved their own bloody niche in an overly saturated craft brewing scene.
Pairs well with: Cannibal Holocaust, Zombie and The Green Inferno
Do you have a favorite spooky beer to share? Happen to know any of the incredible artists whose artwork we’ve showcased here? Let us know over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!