With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, many of us are scrambling to finalize our food and drink menus. While many people will default to a nice Chardonnay to serve with the turkey and fixings, I’m here to tell you that there are a plethora of beers that will pair wonderfully with whatever you serve.
Give the following styles a try with your Thanksgiving meal and thank me later (that was too easy). You can find the following beers at area specialty grocers and bottle shops.
In this age of quadruple dry hopped and bourbon barrel-aged beers, a simple beer like a brown ale can be overlooked. However, when paired with fall meals, brown ales can really shine. The subtle chocolate and caramel notes complement your Thanksgiving feast while letting the food remain the star of the show. Brown ales are generally easy to drink and won’t wreck your palate. Give one, such as Bell’s Best Brown ale, a try and enjoy just how well it pairs with the turkey and dressing.
Belgian Golden Ale
A Belgian golden ale is an amped version of a blonde ale, but with the delicious character a Belgian yeast imparts. This is a perfect substitute for Chardonnay, as Belgian golden ales can stand up to the flavor of that roast turkey leg, but is subtle enough to go alongside the cranberry sauce. There’s a slight sweetness and notes of honey, yet the beer is never cloying and finishes dry with notes of banana and clove. Pranqster from North Coast is an excellent example of a Belgian-style golden ale that will have your guests asking for more.
Biere de Garde
Many people say that a biere de garde is perhaps the best beer for pairing with any food. This is a farmhouse style that originated in the south of France, and shares some of the same qualities as a saison. These beers are versatile enough to stand up to the richness of the Thanksgiving meal, but won't overpower the delicate dishes. Acadie from Bayou Teche Brewing is an example of such a style, and it features some bready and toasty notes with a fruity and spicy yeast character.
Belgian-style dubbels are versatile enough to pair with anything from appetizer to dessert. These beers feature notes of dark fruit such as dates and figs, a peppery and phenolic yeast character, and a dry finish. Dubbels will complement everything from the gravy on your mashed potatoes to pecan pie. There is quite an assortment of dubbels to choose from on shelves here, including an elegant version from Blackberry Farm, situated in the Great Smoky Mountain region of east Tennessee.
Saisons and farmhouse ales have long been considered a nice beer for white wine drinkers to start with. These beers are generally dry, yet well-carbonated with fruity notes — not unlike many white wines. Saisons are a natural fit with turkey, as well as your dressings and cranberry sauces. For an extra special treat, look for one that is aged in wine barrels, such as St. Peter's Saison de Banc Vert from Green Bench Brewing.
A hearty robust porter, such as Founders Porter, is the perfect beer for a cold Thanksgiving Day. The silky smooth chocolate notes pair wonderfully with the roast turkey, as well as whatever dessert is served. Robust porters are smooth, without being astringent or dominating. They are also versatile enough to pair with other meats, should you want to forego the traditional turkey for a hearty steak or smoked brisket.
Finally, if you’ve had enough of your uncle’s political rants at the dinner table, or you’re just had your fill of the extended family for one day, pour yourself an imperial stout. These big, boozy beers are a bit too high in alcohol to pair with your Thanksgiving meal, but they make for a nice liquid dinner, especially if you had a huge Thanksgiving lunch. Let these beers warm up to about 55 degrees, and sip on it while watching the last football game of the day. Grimm's Double Negative won the gold medal in the Imperial Stout category at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival, and is a perfect choice to end your turkey day.