Every year I get asked what beers will be on my Thanksgiving table. So, in order to help you decide what to serve with your feast, I put together this little primer.
Thanksgiving feasting begins the moment you walk through the front door with my family. Generally there are platters of cheese, crackers, and other salty, savory snacks. These types of snacks are perfect for a well-hopped Pale Ale. A perfect local choice for this is Intuition Ale Works’ People’s Pale Ale. Another excellent choice is Dales Pale Ale from Oskar Blues or the granddaddy of all American Pale Ales: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. These beers also pair well with appetizers like shrimp cocktail or bruchetta with tomatoes and basil.
Often, the actual Thanksgiving meal begins with a salad in our home. A hit with my family is my mother’s favorite oriental-style salad that includes dry Ramen Noodles crumbled in at and a dressing made with sesame seed oil and vinegar. The sweet salad dressing deserves a beer that will not over-power it so my first thought is to pair it with a Belgian White Ale like Blanche de Bruxelles. The wonderful balance of coriander and citrus of this brew should enhance the sweet and tangy dressing. Try this beer with other similar salad dressings since the spices can hold up to the vegetable flavors – sweet lettuce, tomato, carrot, and cucumber — in the salad and most lighter dressings.
For the main course of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, cranberry sauce, and so on. You have to decide a direction to go. I have always aimed for a beer that would take a middle road through all of these flavors, enhancing them without distracting from them. Oktoberfest-style beers have many of the characteristics of Brown Ales, but tend to have a cleaner finish. To me that is important. I want a beer that is going to refresh and cleanse my palate between bites, not leave a lingering malty flavor. One of my favorite Oktoberfest beers is Ayinger Oktoberfest. You may still be able to find some at your local beer store, so hurry on out for it. Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest and Flying Fish Oktoberfish are also great choices.
At the end of the turkey gorging, there are always all those wonderful desserts. In our family that means pumpkin pie, apple pie, and rich chocolate cake. But, I have also seen families who serve mouth-watering desserts such as trifles and carrot cake. For me, the only way to go is a rich, dark stout that is redolent of chocolate, coffee and perhaps some spices. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout fits the bill perfectly.