There may be no holiday better for sharing and pairing great craft beer with family and friends than the great Turkey Day! And fortunately, there are a TON good choices out there to make your day one that you will truly be thankful for.
If you have marathon day planned, as many of us do, our recommendation is to consider keeping all of the following beers served in small portions throughout … share every bottle in portions of 8oz or less … especially with the pre- and post-meal selections. Otherwise, you run the risk of hammering through 3 or 4 pints before dinner, and then barely remembering how you chucked that spoonful of stuffing across the table at your sister – let alone how much better your Grandma’s chocolate chip pecan pie was this year with a Rogue Chocolate Stout.
If you start your day with a parade on the TV, and a couple trays full of nuts, crackers, and light hors d’oeuvres, we suggest starting everyone off with a good American Brown Ale … they’re generally not too heavy, and pleasantly complimentary to these conversational snacks. 3 good options would be: Sierra Nevada Tumbler, Duck Rabbit Brown Ale, and Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown.
It’s starting into real food time. Cheeses, fruits, and actual appetizers. Now we’re getting serious. More complex and interesting flavors have entered the mix, and we want to give them their due. Consider having some Saisons like Saison DuPont, Ommegang Hennepin, and Fantôme Spéciale De Noel.
Or, for you more adventurous types, a nice American Wild Ale should pucker up the conversation – good examples would be: Allagash Interlude, Jolly Pumpkin La Roja, and the famous Russian River Consecration.
If you’re having a pre-meal salad, whether it be the traditional garden variety, or a more interesting walnut/cranberry/feta style, we’d recommend a crisp Czech or German Pilsener like Pilsner Urquell, Victory Prima Pils, or Lagunitas PILS. These should complement nicely, without overpowering your Aunt Betty’s otherwise forgettable contribution to the table.
Well all right now… It’s time to strap on your napkin-bib, and get down to business with the main courses! Generally, these foods will be full, complex, heavy, and fatty. We’d highly recommend going with a Tripel such as Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde, Chimay Tripel (White), or St. Bernardus Tripel.
Both of these Belgian style ales have the power to cut through the fattyness, and bring enough flavor to complement the foods – without overpowering them.
Dessert time – what many of you have been waiting for all day. You want to go with something fairly sweet that matches nicely with the desserts, if possible. Try some of the stronger Pumpkin Ales with your pumpkin pie (if you can still find these on the shelf, we’d recommend Southern Tier’s Pumking, Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale, or Dogfish Head’s Punkin’ Ale)
Or maybe an American Stout with your pecan pie. Good examples would be Rogue Chocolate Stout, Bell’s Kalamazoo, or Sierra Nevada Stout. For you pie-hatin’ weirdos, any of those selections above will also go great with a plain scoop of vanilla ice cream, too.
It’s late afternoon/evening… Grandpa’s in full-on snore mode with a chin full of drool on the barcalounger… The conversation has either reached a boiling point, or has died. You need to chill with a good digestive. We suggest a snifter half-filled with a Quadrupel like St. Bernardus ABT 12, Ommegang Three Philosophers, and Pannepot Old Fisherman’s Ale. Or maybe a Barleywine like Great Divide Old Ruffian, Troegs Flying Mouflan, and Victory Old Horizontal to close things out.
By this point, hopefully you’ve made sure your guests (or you) have a soft pillow, and no idea where their keys are. Oh, and hopefully you remembered to down a glass of water about once an hour, so your Black Friday isn’t spent recovering on the couch.
For a one-page listing of the 10 Styles and 30 Beers listed above, click this link for a List of Thanksgiving Appropriate Beers
Happy Turkey Day!!!
– Gateway Beers