Gather ‘round kids! Grab a toffee apple and get ready for the fireworks—it’s time to burn a man in effigy! Yayyy!!!

Four years ago this week, my husband and I landed here in the UK to begin our lives in this beautiful country. It just so happened to be none other than Guy Fawkes Day or--for the kiddies--Bonfire Night; nothing like celebrating the failed assassination attempt of the king by a 17th century terrorist on your first night in a new country. Luckily we were invited to a party at a new friend’s house and we discovered what the holiday was really about: food and beer.

Indeed, these dreary November days (and days and days) are well-suited for rich, bold beers and comfort food. Big pots of chili con carne, homemade baked beans and huge pieces of parkin are the perfect way to fill up before standing in the cold, cheering on the demise of a dummy who inexplicably dons a high-vis vest (safety?) before being set alight. Let the kids enjoy their toffee apples, you can stand in the back having a nip of your favourite beer.

I'm generally an equal-opportunity drinker but there's something about the cooler weather that has me craving big beer styles like Scotch Ales, Imperial Stouts and Belgian Quads and Tripels as well as some delicious Porters and Milds.

I love a delicious Belgian Tripel ale, like Maredsous Tripel or Westmalle Tripel with a pork sandwich. It's not so huge in body and flavor that it'll overwhelm the pork and, while generally weighing in at around 7.5-9.5%, its alcohol content provides a bit of a boozy kick that cuts right through the meat while warming you from the inside. Notes of spice and citrus fruits are perfectly complementary to a pork sandwich and all its fixings: stuffing, apple sauce and gravy. Since it wouldn't be Bonfire Night without a hog roast somewhere, make sure you BYOB and enjoy the two of these together.

If you're going to be eating at home before heading out for the fireworks, I love to suggest making a big pot of chili con carne and, after browning the meat, deglaze the pan with a fantastic stout like Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. I like this stout for cooking because it's not intensely bitter and its sweet chocolate and molasses notes are perfect in dishes like chili or beef stew--it really brings out the character of the meat. Sometimes when cooking with beer you have to be really careful because cooking can intensify the bitterness. And that'd make for a pretty nasty chili.

For those who are more of a dessert person, it'd be sacrilegious to burn a mannequin without also indulging in a huge piece of parkin cake. Sweet, sticky and spiced there's only one beer that I think is the perfect partner: Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale. It's sweet without being cloying, rich with a creamy carbonation and has just enough of a lingering bitterness that it cleanses the palate before the next bite.

If none of those appeal to you a Toad-in-the-Hole and a pale ale like Rooster's Fort Smith would be a great, quick dinner while you could also slave away all day at making your own baked beans to top off a jacket potato alongside a crisp And Union Unfiltered Lager or a malty maibock hybrid like Rogue Dead Guy Ale (get it? Dead Guy!? Ha!)

Whichever way you decide to go and however you spend your day teaching your kids what'll happen for all eternity if they try to assassinate the king, just remember--it's better with beer!

Have fun!


--Beer Sommelier