Drunksgiving: A Thanksgiving Beer Guide
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Why serve beer at your Thanksgiving dinner? Because it’s fucking delicious. Also because:
- A great bottle of beer is generally cheaper and easier to find than a great bottle of wine.
- The Pilgrims did it (allegedly).
- Beer’s roasty, malty, savory flavors perfectly complement our beloved Thanksgiving dishes. Don’t believe me? Put it to the test yourself with this course-by-course Thanksgiving beer-pairing menu
Coat-Taking/Small-Talking/Jesus-Christ-Can-We-Drink-Yet (Hors d’ouevres Course)
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Start your afternoon (or morning, it’s the holidays, damn it) with an American saison. Light, fruity and bubbly, this farmhouse style is great with vegetable trays, hummus and maybe even that bag of stale Cheetos your brother brought.
Allagash Saison from Allagash Brewing Company has notes of citrus and spice but a very dry finish, making it a delightful aperitif. If you want something a little more adventurous, pick up something by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, which, contrary to its name, doesn’t just make pumpkin beer. Tart and funky, their Oro de Calabaza (a bière de garde) is one of the best beers I’ve ever had and is the perfect pairing for a cheese plate.
A Good Old Fashioned American Food Orgy (Main Course)
Sipping an Oktoberfest (also known as a Märzen) with your dinner will feel like your beer and your turkey are making sweet, sweet love on your tongue. Gobble…gobble. Oktoberfest’s bready, malty qualities, balanced by bitterness, make it perfect for everything from sweet potatoes to green bean casserole.
If you can get your hands on it, Sierra Nevada‘s 2015 Oktoberfest (a collaboration with the German brewery, Brauhaus Riegele) is getting insanely good reviews. If you want something a little lighter, go with Great Lakes Brewing Co.‘s Oktoberfest, a crisp offering with only very subtle whiffs of fruit and malt. It’s so subtle that even Uncle Bob might put down his Bud Light for one.
Welcome to Stout Country (Dessert Course)
Coffee is the pairing of choice for some with their pumpkin pie, but why waste the holidays in sobriety? Stout, particularly imperial stout with its big, broad, balls-out roastiness, make it the perfect drink to stand up to desserts, chocolate in particular. Great Divide‘s Yeti imperial stout and its caramel and toffee notes should pair nicely with grandma’s brownies. If coffee’s usually your poison, Founders Breakfast Stout has all the java flavors you need (plus 8.3% ABV!)
You could also just cut right to the chase and have stout as your dessert. Just dump a scoop of vanilla ice cream into your pint glass to make a stout float, a treat that Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery once called “absolutely sinful.” Now that’s a treat even those Puritan bastards could get behind.
All Day Drinkin’ (The I’m-Only-Buying-One-Damn-Beer Course)
If you only want to get one style of beer (for shame, on this day of gluttony) and want something middle-of-the-road that will please the most people, go with a good old fashioned American amber lager. A descendant of the Oktoberfest style, it is light bodied, but the hints of caramel and malt sweetness make it an excellent choice for Thanksgiving foods, especially the turkey. More well-known examples of this style are Yuengling Lager, Brooklyn Lager and Sam Adams Boston Lager. If you want to step out of the box why not give the highly-rated Coney Island Lager or Queens Lager a try.
Heck, give them all a try. There’s (almost) no wrong way to drink beer.
Illustration courtesy of Chi-Yun Lau