With Halloween just around the corner, it’s a good time to try out some spooky seasonal beers. By this point in the season, I imagine most are sick and tired of the ubiquitous pumpkin beers—it seems every brewery has one and the liquor stores and bars are lousy with them. Thankfully, here comes Category 12 to the rescue with the world’s first anti-pumpkin beer.

ZRA  is a clever double acronym, because not only does it stand for or Zombie Repellant Ale, but it it is made with Zythos hops, CaraRed malt, and Azacca hops. Along with these key ingredients, fennel and sweet orange is then added to the mix and the concoction is fermented with a propriety house-strain of Belgian yeast to produce a highly unique Belgian red ale.

Bottle: 650 ml

ABV: 6.9%; SRM: 17; OG: 1.065

Price: ~$7

c12-ZRA-bottle-C.pngDescription:

In the middle of the night, when all evidence of light has faded, that’s when they come. Be vigilant, be prepared.

This Belgian red ale features Zythos hops, CaraRed malt, Azacca hops and distinct aromas of licorice and sweet orange which are sure to snap any mindless, pumpkin spice zombie out of their trance and back to reality. Our ZRA will increase your resolve to fight your way through the throngs of pumpkin beer loving zombie hoards to get to what you really want… Zombie Repellant Ale.

Welcome to the lab.

Tasting notes:

The beer pours out a fitting blood red colour, with a moderate white head, which left some light lacing. The carbonation level was moderate, but just where you would want it to be for a Belgian ale.

The beer smells rich with fennel spice and mild banana tones common to Belgian yeast, as well as a hint of citrus from the hops.

The taste starts with sweet caramel malt tones, then the fennel and orange shine through, which gives way to a slightly bitter finish courtesy of the zythos and azacca hops. The spice and dry herbal flavour of the hops linger on the palette and drive you back for another sip like a zombie hungry for brains.

Not only is this the perfect alternative to a pumpkin beer, but it’s a wonderful beer in its own right. Head brewer / founder Michael Kuzyk clearly has a great fondness for Belgian-style beers and that love really shines through on this unique seasonal release.

Make sure you grab one before it’s gone, or it will haunt you forever! Well, at least until next Halloween.

Rating: 4.5/5