No Fear 

From Ghost River, Black Magic; and at the Peabody: Wicked dinner deals.

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Halloween is upon us and, though it may sound blasphemous to some, there is more to look forward to than candy corn and caramel apples.

For one thing, local brewery Ghost River is releasing its third annual batch of Black Magic, a black beer perfect for Halloween.

"Breweries have always had seasonal beers," Chuck Skypeck of Ghost River says. "People love to change with the seasons, because you want fuller-bodied, more flavorful beers typically in the cooler months and lighter-bodied beers in the summer."

Even though it's a fall beer, Skypeck wants to clear up any misconceptions about Black Magic. "Black beers tend to scare people to a certain extent, and they're probably misunderstood. A lot of people don't realize that Guinness, even though it has very full, intense flavors, has less alcohol than Bud Light. In general, color has nothing to do with the alcoholic strength of the beer. You can have strong dark beers, but you can also have strong light beers."

So what can you expect? "The point of Black Magic is it's not a stout. Stouts get a whole lot of flavor from roasted barleys," Skypeck says. "And it's not a porter. Porters get their flavor from chocolate malt. We use black malt to give black beer its color, but we use toasted malt to give the beer a nice sweet, malty flavor. We make it relatively light-bodied. It doesn't drink like your typical black beer with a lot of the more acrid, acidic flavors."

In other words, Black Magic is not the bitter, brooding beer you might expect. Go ahead and taste for yourself at the local pubs where it is sold, including South of Beale, King's Palace, and Lynchburg Legends Bar and Grill.

ghostriverbrewing.com

All during the month of October, the Peabody is offering special pre-show menus for fans of the Broadway show Wicked. Both the Capriccio Grill and Chez Philippe will have prix fixe menus for theatergoers through October 31st.

Chez Philippe's menu features three courses with choices such as Calabaza squash bisque, shrimp and salmon terrine, and a Wild King Salmon with fried leeks and coriander-walnut vinaigrette. Their Newman Farm pork chop is served with sweet-potato flan, turnips, and turnip greens. For dessert, they are offering crème brûlée with caramelized apples or a lemon tart with homemade mascarpone cheese. The menu is available from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, for $65.

The Capriccio Grill also has a special pre-show menu for $45, which is available every evening from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Vegetable stew with seasonal vegetables, pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter and toasted hazelnuts, and filet mignon with wild-mushroom ragout make for some hearty autumn dishes, and you can polish them off with Jack Daniel's golden-raisin-bread pudding with buttermilk butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream.

"The menu is based around seasonal things, and also Wicked, like the witch's vegetable stew," says Daniel Bamrick, food and beverage director at the Peabody.

And since nothing works up an appetite quite like a few hours of witchcraft, the Peabody Lobby Bar is also serving special Wicked green-apple martinis and desserts after the show. Choose from green cupcakes, Oreo mint cheesecake, or lime tarts.

An added bonus? The price of dinners at Chez Philippe and Capriccio Grill includes complementary valet parking, so getting from dinner to the show is a cinch.

For more information, visit the Peabody website, peabodymemphis.com, or call the hotel.

The Peabody, 149 Union (529-4000)

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