It’s Thanksgiving dinner time and you’ve been tasked with an incredibly important mission….to buy the beer. Whether your family and friends like good beer or not doesn’t matter, because you get to curate things. But this is also an opportunity to sway your ‘Bud Man’ uncle and ‘Jack & Coke’ cousin over to the craft beer world, so you want to do it right. After all, I’m a firm believer that people that don’t drink craft beer just haven’t tried their favorite craft beer yet.
With the holiday fast approaching, I wanted to share my process coming up with the beer menu for Thanksgiving at my home last year, and what I plan to do for this year. When I went searching for guidance last year around this time, the article I was pointed to the most, and the one that was the most helpful was this one from Beer Advocate. Sure, it’s six years old but holds up really well.
With that and other advice in mind, along with what I knew about who would be attending, I began to craft my Thanksgiving Beer Pairings.
I didn’t get too crazy because of those in attendance, I was by far the biggest fan of beer. We were probably outnumbered by wine drinkers, but I wanted to take a shot and see if I could turn anyone over to the beer side.
Pre-meal beer: At my house, Thanksgiving Dinner is really more like a mid-afternoon meal. So it’s right in the middle of all the football watching. I chose a Pilsner for this time period because I knew it would be accessible, and not overwhelming to anyone’s palate. I also knew that it wouldn’t fill anyone up before what is always a gigantic meal. So I chose one of the best American Pilsners around.
This year, I might change this up and go with Sierra Nevada Celebration. It’s a bit more palate challenging, but this years batch feels a lot less hoppy that previous years, so it’s up for consideration. I will likely also make Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale available, which is a fantastic Amber. Here are some other Pilsners and Ambers I would recommend.
Victory Prima Pils, Brooklyn Lager, Hudepohl Amber Lager, Three Floyds Alpha King Pale Ale, or Sixpoint The Crisp.
During the meal beer: I’ll be the first to acknowledge that beer during a meal doesn’t work for some people. And those people usually just haven’t given it a chance. It might not be the highlight of the meal, but it can certainly be a really great role player on an already crowded field. My research last year suggested I go with a stronger Belgian style choice. Because of their higher alcohol percentages it can cut through fats and starches, and give just enough sweetness to make it a real winner. Last year I grabbed an easy to find Belgian Strong Dark that one of my relatives said was..’the best beer I’ve ever tasted.’
This can be had at most grocery stores and for a reasonable price if you are trying to keep things on the cheap, and it pairs really nice with the meal. To keep it simple, it’s the bottle with the pink elephant on it.
This year, I’ll be serving another strong Belgian, but have a wild card in mind as well.
The Bruery’s Autumn Maple. Here is the description.
Brewed with 17 lbs. of yams per barrel (in other words, a lot of yams!), this autumn seasonal is a different take on the “pumpkin” beer style. Brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup, and fermented with our traditional Belgian yeast strain.
Yes, I think that will do nicely.
Here are some other great options for your Thanksgiving meal.
Chimay Blue, Allagash Odyssey, Unibroue Maudite, Unibroue La Terrible, AleSmith Grand Cru Ale or Jolly Pumpkin Noel De Calabaza.
Dessert beer: Now that the pumpkin pie, cheesecake, cobblers or whatever sweets you serve are on the table, it’s time to bring more beer out too. This is probably the best course to pair beer with, so if you only do one course, make it this one. Last year, I served Dogfish Chicory Stout and while I think it’s a great beer, it was the pairing I was least satisfied with. I think what I needed was something with a little more sweetness to match the desserts on my plate.
This year, I haven’t decided what I’ll choose, but here are the ones I’m considering the most.
Founders Breakfast Stout, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Great Divide Espresso Yeti, Southern Tier Choklat, or Port Santas Little Helper.
After dinner beer: Yes, you can still keep drinking beer after dinner! It’s digest that huge meal time and you are feeling bloated while your stomach goes to work, this is when you reach for a smooth and boozy Barleywine or Old Ale to sip slowly and savor. Here are some great ones I’ll be choosing from.
Founders Curmudgeon’s Old Ale, Great Divide Old Ruffian, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Three Floyds Behemoth, Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine, Lost Abbey Deliverance or some Great Divide Hibernation.
What Thanksgiving Beer Pairings are you planning this year?