Last year, adults scared silly at the House of Torment — Austin’s popular haunted attraction — could finally gulp down liquid courage beforehand. At a site much larger than its old one, the House of Torment sold beer and wine out of a small stand in the venue’s parking lot. This year, it’s adding even more boozy thrills: an-onsite bar as well as its very own beer.
The food and drink area will stick around, but people are encouraged to hang out at the Torment Tavern and order wine, beer or (new this year) a series of spookily named cocktails. Also new this year is a collaboration beer that 4th Tap Brewing Cooperative, in North Austin, has made for the hair-raising haunted affair: the House of Torment Pumpkin Ale.
That’s right: House of Torment’s night of terror goes best with a light, malt-forward pumpkin brew that you can gulp before you lose all the feeling in your throat from screaming so much.
Two of the co-founders of 4th Tap, John and Erin Stecker, came up with the idea of a House of Torment-branded beer last year, when she began working as a make-up artist there, transforming actors into the screeching, lurking and twitching zombies, clowns, mummies and other terrifying figures populating the three haunted attractions.
It made sense for the beer to have pumpkin in it, as a classic fall flavor, but the Steckers didn’t want to mimic other pumpkin beers on the market that tend to be high in alcohol and very spiced. In fact, the House of Torment ale is reminiscent of another popular seasonal style, Oktoberfest, because of how unexpectedly light in body it is.
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“If you’re waiting for your turn in the haunted house in a parking lot with a thousand other people, you don’t want something super heavy and boozy,” John Stecker said. “We wanted it to be a light pumpkin ale rather than a pumpkin spice monster, so there’s no pumpkin spice, just roasted pumpkin and very mild spicing. It’s meant to be super approachable.”
4th Tap released the beer in cans to Austin retailers a couple weeks ago, but once those run out, Stecker said, the only places to get the pumpkin ale through Halloween will be at the 4th Tap tasting room or at the House of Torment once it opens on Sept. 21. The beer requires 240 lbs. of roasted pumpkin that head brewer Chris Hamje roasted himself, in a 12 hour process he isn’t eager to repeat again, so there will only be one batch this year.
“It was a lot of work, and he said, ‘Never again,’” Stecker said with a laugh.
But you’ll probably want the pumpkin beer on repeat to get through each of the three new set of attractions at House of Torment, which recently revealed each one: Blackthorne Penitentiary, Darkest Dreams (where you’ll run into nightmare after nightmare of horrifying creatures) and Trick or Treat (which seems to be a Halloween scary story come to life).
Or, if you need something closer to a stiff drink, never fear: Torment Tavern will have them. Signature cocktails at this haunt include Jekyll’s Old Bloody Fashion and Hyde’s Madness, each one served in a commemorative blinking cup. Torment Tavern will be located near the scare shop selling merchandise.
The food menu this year, as provided once again by local bar Haymaker, will feature sausage wraps, chicken pumpkin quesadillas, chips and queso, and hand-dipped candy apples, according to House of Torment general manager Glenn Lenard. He was on board, like the rest of the House of Torment team, when 4th Tap proposed the concept of the collaborative beer.
“We're thrilled that our friends at 4th Tap were willing to brew a special beer for House of Torment,” he said. “The Steckers have been a part of the House of Torment community for a number of years, and we're excited to share this partnership with the Austin community.”
Erin Stecker will once again be a makeup artist working behind the scenes to make sure your visit through each of the haunted attractions are as terrifying as possible. For her, it’s a jolly good time.
“It's fun to get paid to hang out at a haunted house and paint a bunch of monsters. And it really is a close-knit group of people working there. It's a strange but fun environment,” she said.
The House of Torment is located at 2632 Ridgepoint Dr. For more information, including ticket sales, visit houseoftorment.com.