Turkey Day Picks: Pairing Beer With Your Thanksgiving

By Anne Becerra |

Sure, Thanksgiving dinner is commonly associated with wine, but we all know that Beaujolais Nouveau really isn’t that good. Plus, sometimes, you just want to savor some suds. So, we turned to cicerone Anne Becerra of NYC’s Treadwell Park for some help picking out beer for Turkey Day. With a resume that also includes hop meccas like Taproom 307, The Ginger Man, and The Pony Bar, it’s no surprise that Becerra knew exactly what to drink! Check out her thoughts on choice brews below. 

The Meal:

One of my favorite beer styles for Thanksgiving is a classic Brown ale. Brown ales are flavorful, yet refreshing and pair beautifully with a wide variety of dishes. The nutty, caramelized flavors are perfect with the browned edges of a roasted turkey with stuffing, and while the subtle chocolatey sweetness goes perfectly with sweet potatoes, it’s also a great balancer for the bitterness of greens (think green beans and collards).  Some great options are Black Hog Granola Brown and Bells Best Brown.

Image courtesy Bells

If you’re looking to get a little “fancier” with your Thanksgiving feast, a Belgian Dubbel is a perfect option. Originally brewed by Monks (and many of them still are), Dubbels are elegant, complex, and thirst quenching. The fruit-forward malt flavors, reminiscent of black cherry, fig and toffee- are delightful with cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes, while the yeast-driven aromas of clove, cinnamon, and pepper are a natural partner for many of the spices used in the meal itself. They’re generally in the 6-7% percent alcohol range, meaning they’re robust enough to stand up to the hearty meal without overpowering it. Ones to seek out include Westmalle Dubbel or Chimay Red.
*Note: Many Belgian beers are also available in large format, 25oz corked and caged bottles making them great gift options to bring to your celebration as well as the perfect choice for a group toast. I like these larger formats for holidays; they’re communal and embrace the sharing spirit of the occasion.

Image courtesy Chimay

Apertif:

When you’re looking to wet your appetite before the big feast, consider a Gose. Goses are in the sour wheat beer family- they’re bright, tart, effervescent, and very easy to drink. They tend to have lower (4.2% – 4.8%) ABV which is great for a starter. You want to still be hungry when you sit down at the dinner table. Think of them as the aperitifs of the beer world- some of my favorites are Westbrook Gose and Sierra Nevada Otra Vez.

Image courtesy Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Dessert:

There are several delicious beer styles that are perfect for the dessert course- it’s just a matter of choosing which direction you want to go in. If you’re looking to match sweetness with sweetness- perhaps you’d pair the rich, caramel character of a Scotch ale such as Founders Dirty Bastard with your apple pie.

If you’re looking to scrub all the residual sweetness off your palate, try doing so with a big, roasty, bitter Imperial stout. The dark chocolate, and iced espresso notes of a boozy stout are the perfect way to round off a meal- think of it as a coffee, after dinner drink and dessert rolled into one. I like the counterpoint of bitterness. Brooklyn Black Chocolate stout is a classic.

Image courtesy Founder’s

Availability:

These styles of beer are all very common. In fact, it’s hard to find a liquor store that doesn’t carry them.

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