YOUNG'S OLD NICK ($3 per 500-ml bottle)
Young's Ram Brewery, in southwest London, has been in operation since the reign of Elizabeth I, making it the oldest continuous brewing site in Britain. In fact, there's a good chance an unknown actor and part-time playwright named Will Shakespeare might have slaked his thirst at the sign of the Ram. It wasn't till 1831, however, that Charles Allen Young and a partner bought the historic brewery, along with 80 pubs. Many of these are still "tight houses," that is, pubs owned and operated by Young's.

By 1893, the company had registered its Dorset horned ram trademark. And in 1981 another Queen Elizabeth visited the brewery to help celebrate Young's 150th anniversary. Old Nick is Young's barley wine-style offering, a devilishly heady (7.2 percent alcohol) brew with a downright satanic kick. This malt-driven ale has lovely overtones of tropical fruit. What better beer for celebrating Halloween?

THEAKSTON's OLD PECULIER ($8.50 per six-pack)


Yorkshire-brewed Old Peculier has a fascinating history that starts in Norman England. A thankful Anglo-Norman crusader returning from the Holy Land gave the parish of Masham to the archbishop of York as a gift. The archbishop, however, not wanting to trudge all the way to Masham to handle affairs, established a Peculier Court ("peculier" is Anglo-Norman for "special") to handle the law in Masham. The court still exists today and can issue fines for, among other things, drunkenness and brawling.