A Victorian Halloween!

Happy almost Halloween everybody! Perhaps you’ve been counting down the days, getting ready to enjoy the creepy and fun things the season has to offer. Well, you’re not alone. The Victorians also enjoyed the creepiness of Halloween! Folks in Victorian times seemed to live spooky lives year round – hair lockets, post-mortem photography, and mourning art dedicated to those who had passed away. However, they also celebrated Halloween, but not quite how we celebrate today. In honor of Halloween being just around the corner, let’s take a look at some Victorian traditions –

A Victorian Halloween greeting card

1. Halloween Parties
The Victorians enjoyed a good Halloween party just as much as we do! Jack-O-Lanterns, ghost stories, games and spooky decorations were commonplace at these parties. According to the 1903 edition of the Sunday Herald of Syracuse, New York (originally researched and described by Stephanie Carroll):

Cushions were strewn about the floor for the guests in the library. When the green flames flickered out, someone lit the fireplace, and attendees began telling ghost stories. Each guest had been instructed to bring a ghost story or be “threatened with violent ejection.” The author commented that the stories were so frightening more than one person screamed when an alarm clock went off in the middle of it. He also commented that it was surprising how many guests had brought alarm clocks for this purpose. After the stories had ended, electric lights flickered on to reveal popping corn, games, and refreshments.

2. Halloween Treats
No, the Victorians were not eating mini chocolate bars and stale bags of snack sized chips. Instead, they would indulge in treats such as cakes, fruit, nuts, apples, and of course ale! Victorians also had their version of candy apples, dipped in syrup and butter. Check out this recommendation for food to serve at a Halloween party:

Menu for a Halloween Party, Ingalls Home and Art Magazine, 1891. Courtesy Mimi Matthews

3. Halloween Postcards
This is an interesting one. Victorians were the pioneers of the postcard, which usually featured an interesting piece of art on the front, and a space to write a message on the back. Victorians had an intricate post card for almost every occasion, including Christmas and Valentine’s day. Some of the artwork was a little odd… but that just made it all the more charming!

Happy Halloween! A nice postcard

In case that wasn’t enough Halloween for you, our Howling Hootenanny event will be running this weekend! Don’t miss the creepy creature show, the haunted maze, or the spooky pioneer superstitions!


Howling Hootenanny

Happy fall! The leaves are changing, the air is getting cool, and Halloween is just around the corner! That can only mean one thing, our Howling Hootenanny event is almost here! On October 20th and 21st, and the 27th and the 28th, we will have having a fun Halloween themed event especially for kids!

A vintage Victorian Halloween postcard! Courtesy the Virtual Victorian

So what will be going on during this howling good time?

  • Be amazed at exciting performances on the main stage (11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.)
  • Get up close and personal at the Creepy Creature Meet & Greet (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
  • Dare yourself to enter the Haunted Maze (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
  • Trick-or-Treat around the Village!
  • Try your hand at the Apple Sling Shot (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) *Weather Permitting
  • Listen in on spooky pioneer superstitions
  • Explore the mini-maze!

Beer in food

If you have forayed into the world of beer, you know there is a food pairing for any beer. IPAs go well with fried or spicy foods, stouts go well with desserts, and pilsners go well with fish. However, you can also take it to the next level… with choosing a food or condiment made with beer.

You can pre-purchase a lot of these choices, or make them yourself at home with your favorite beer. I have personally cooked with our Black Creek beer, and the results were amazing!

Tracy’s Beer Jelly, available in our gift shop

Beer Jelly

Beer Jelly is exactly what you would expect – a jelly with beer as the main ingredient. It’s great for cheese boards, breads, or a glaze on meat. Beer jelly is great because you get the essence of the beer and its taste without the bitterness of the hops. We have beer jelly available in a range of flavors in our gift shop, including pilsner, IPA, and wheat beer. If you’re feeling adventurous, Men’s Journal outlines a recipe for stout beer jelly that is very achievable for a home cook.

Beer Bread

Our previous beer blogger Katie explored the relationship between beer and bread in a previous post. Beer and bread have very similar ingredients – besides flour and hops, it is almost identical. Adding beer to your bread gives it an extra dimension of flavor, and makes for a very hearty and moist loaf. Katie made a ginger beer bread using our historic ginger beer, and you can find the recipe here.

Beer Stew

You may have heard of using wine in savory cooking, but beer is also a great option. Dark beers such as stouts pair well with red meat and savory ingredients in a hearty stew. It’s a little hot for stew at the moment, but this is a good recipe to save for those cold winter months. Ricardo Cuisine has a great recipe for a beer stew using Guinness, but I think this recipe would be heightened by substituting it with Black Creek historic stout!

Beer Cake

Now this one sounds a bit odd, but it is really delicious. Remember how beer in bread  makes it moist and hearty? Think of what it could do for cake! Plus, the bitterness of beer cuts through the sugary and sometimes overly sweet taste of cake, creating a more complex and interesting flavor. The Food Network has a range of beer cake recipes using beers like pilsner, stout, and even IPA!

If you try any of these recipes be sure to let us know! They all look great, and seem like a great way to finish off that growler!

Spotlight on our commercial beers!

Did you know that you can purchase Black Creek beer in the LCBO? We have two great flavors to choose from – Canadian Frontier best bitter ale, and Rifleman’s Ration brown ale! Both are a uniquely crafted choice, and are a great choice if you are looking for something a little different than the other craft beer flavors out there. Not sure which one to pick? Here are some tasting notes for both beers, but you truly can’t go wrong with either one!

Canadian Frontier Best Bitter Ale – Canadian Frontier is an amber colored, malty ale with subtle hints of caramel and malty sweetness. It’s light enough to be a refreshing choice for warmer weather, but the flavors are strong enough that any craft beer fan will truly be impressed.  Originally brewed to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Canadian Frontier lives on as a tribute to the English ales that would have been enjoyed by pioneers in small villages in Ontario.

Rifleman’s Ration Brown Ale – Our Rifleman’s Ration is a medium bodied brown ale that pours a chocolate brown color in the glass. This is a rich, malty beer with a slight sweetness and hints of espresso coffee. This beer is inspired by the money earmarked for beer that was given to soldiers stationed in 19th century Canada. Rifleman’s Ration was brewed in honor of the anniversary of the war of 1812, but we have continued to brew it long beyond the bicentennial!

Our beers are available in the LCBO, and in some grocery stores. I’d recommend calling ahead or checking the links above to see store availability near you!