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A tale of two beers creates a fun fall favorite. By Brandy Rand – Photograph by Anthony Tieuli

One doesn’t usually think of pairing beer with dessert, but those are two of Gary Johnstone’s favorite things. The owner of Stones Pub and Eatery in Gloucester is both a baker and a bartender, so beer and dessert are a natural combination for him. Known for his homemade desserts as well as for his comfort food cooking, Johnstone whips up Kahlua brownies as often as he shakes a martini.

Stones opened in November 2010 and has become a local hangout, not only for watching the game on any one of five flat screens, but also for enjoying a great burger or slab of shepherd’s pie. Johnstone jokes that he always knew he would open a bar based on his college major at UMass Amherst-leisure studies. With a career in real estate appraising, he still often found himself behind the bar. “I always envisioned a comfortable place with a family atmosphere, a neighborhood bar where everyone was welcome,” he says.

With the wood-paneled warmth of a cozy European pub, Stones doesn’t disappoint when it comes to pouring a wide selection of beers and cocktails. Layered beer drinks like the popular Black Velvet (half Murphy’s Stout, half Woodchuck cider) are what inspired Johnstone to create a drink for fall that he calls the Black and Pumpkin. With a nod to his sweet side, he rims a pint glass with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg before he adds half a glass of Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale and tops it with Murphy’s Stout. “The effect is visually appealing,” Johnstone explains. “It dresses up a beer like a cocktail, and people love the layered look.”

The resulting flavor is a bit like a bite of freshly baked pumpkin pie-a little smoky from the stout with a spiced pumpkin finish. Some would call it dessert in a glass, but don’t tell that to Johnstone. He’s busy making macaroons and mousses for you to try after you finish that drink.

Black & Pumpkin: Makes one serving

8 oz. Shipyard Pumpkin Ale

8 oz. Murphy’s Stout

A few pinches each of cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg

Moisten the rim of a 16-oz. pint glass with water or a lemon wedge. Mix together cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg on a plate, and dip the rim of the glass to coat with mixture. Carefully pour in pumpkin ale about halfway, then fill remaining half with stout to layer.