So naturally (and with a giant hat tip to the great work being done by our friends at Serious Eats in their “Ask a Cicerone” series), we picked the brains of our Certified Cicerone® staffers for their Thanksgiving beer recommendations:
Suzanne Schalow: Craft Beer Cellar Director of Human Things
Dish: Green Bean Casserole
Suggested Beer Pairing: Session IPA
This is a weird dish… Cream of Mushroom Soup, Green Beans, Crispy Fried Onions! Who knew? I like to mix it up with fresh haricot vert, bacon, fresh lemon juice, light cream, a plethora of mushrooms (shiitake or cremini, oyster & button), and of course those pesky fried onions. There are a lot of complementary flavors here: the crisp snap of the fresh beans and a light bodied session beer, the citrus character of the hops and fresh lemon juice, and the earthy character of the mushroom with a solid malt bill.While bacon and cream just make everything better, a light hop character will also cut through the fattiness of both of these ingredients.
One to consider: Notch Brewing Left of the Dial (In a freakin’ CAN) I like this one because it’s local to the Boston area and I can get it just about any time. I dig what they are putting down and love drinking local. Light on the palate and light on the head (if you’re planning on hangin’ in there for the holidays), but with an aroma that’s super bright, citrusy, and piney – some of my favorite hop characters!
(Extra note: You’ll never use Cream of Mushroom Soup, again. Hit me up if you want the recipe. Word!)
Walter Miska: Head Beer Geek, Craft Beer Cellar Westford
Dish: Sweet Potatoes
Suggested Beer Pairing: Belgian-Style Blonde Ale
Let’s face it: for Thanksgiving dinner, we are not only pairing beer with food – but with our relatives/in-laws/etc. I’m looking for something with a little bit of a kick here. Belgian Blonde Ales are fruity, aromatic and warming ales which will fit perfectly on my Thanksgiving table. My pick: Ommegang Gnomegang, an award-winning selection fermented with Chouffe yeast and bottle-conditioned with Ommegang yeast.
Sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving classic, and one of the world’s healthiest foods! Rich in beta-carotene, sweet potatoes provide you with powerful antioxidant protection. Whether baked, fried or mashed these delights add just a touch of sweetness and substance to your Thanksgiving dinner. The mouthwatering aroma from the Belgian yeast, and lingering sweetness from just the right balance of hops and fruity esters make this one righteous pairing. Add to that the scrubbing effect from the highly effervescent beer, and you are ready for another bite.
Marc Marino: Minister of Beer, Craft Beer Cellar Westford
Dish: Thanksgiving Dinner
Suggested Beer Pairing: Saison
My strategy in this situation is to select one beer to pair with the entire meal. My table (and stomach) doesn’t have the room to support that sort of “a glass for each component” approach. In a perfect world, I’d have saved a half dozen bottles of Saison du Buff, made in collaboration by Dogfish Head, Victory and Stone for Turkey Day. The intensity of the saison matches well with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy, the major players at any Thanksgiving table. The rosemary, thyme, and parsley from the beer mirror the seasonings on the turkey and stuffing. The herbs in the beer will also simultaneously enhance the earthiness of the potatoes, and develop a nice contrast with the sweetness in any yam that you put out on the table.
Honorable mentions include Rosemary for Remembrance brewed by Idle Hands Craft Ales and 10 Commandments from The Lost Abbey. Other beverages for consideration include Smoking Wood from The Bruery and Fatty Bampkins Dry Cider.
Kevin Wood: Staff Beer Geek, Craft Beer Cellar Westford
Dish: TANKsgiving Dinner (Except Pumpkin Pie)
Suggested Beer Pairing: Saison
My strategy is similar to Marc’s – to pair one beer with the whole meal (except the pumpkin pie because we usually do dessert as a separate course in my family). Boulevard Tank 7 was one of the beers I served to family last Thanksgiving and was well-received. The saison style is my choice because the relatively high carbonation cuts through the richness of the potatoes, stuffing, and gravy.The fruitiness and spiciness from the farmhouse/saison yeast blend nicely with the green bean casserole and cranberry sauce as well. I find Tank 7 finishes dry and refreshing enough with a light/medium body to wash down this hearty thanksgiving meal, but has enough intensity from the hops and spicy/fruity esters to match everything in this meal, except for the pumpkin pie. The earthiness and spiciness in this beer are a nice contrast to the sweet and savory flavors in the potatoes, gravy, cranberry, and turkey.
I also am motivated by trying to convert a wine-drinking family to beer and I think Tank 7 has that conversion potential, so I chose a cork & caged 750 ml bottle that makes a nice presentation. I would serve it in stemmed glasses, and be considerate of serving sizes, given the 8.5% ABV.
A consideration for pumpkin pie pairing would be Our Finest Regards from Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project. A nice, smooth barleywine would be my style choice for the dessert course.
Kate Baker: Craft Beer Cellar Hoperations Manager
Dish: Turkey and Stuffing, Deviled Eggs, Pumpkin Pie
Suggested Beer Pairing: Saison, DIPA, Stout/Porter
I think we’ve all learned the “when in doubt, go Belgian” recommendation; I personally love this, because thinking about something like a Belgian Table Beer (Avril) or Mystic Table Beer, with the scrubby bubble character, light spice and citrus flavors, and low alcohol, it’s a perfect beer style to go with most any food! Not exactly what I’d drink with Pumpkin Pie, but, most other Thanksgiving Day foodstuffs!
I like Stillwater Cellar Door for the stuffing and the turkey, as a complementary matchup. Cellar Door is brewed with white sage, so you could even reduce the amount of savory and aromatic spices used in the food, and make up for it with the beer!
Deviled Eggs, I can’t do Thanksgiving without them! I would pair a higher alcohol Double IPA with the eggs; the bitter bite and higher octane of the beer will slash right through the fatty, rich character of the egg, particularly the filling! Use gorgonzola, bacon, avocado, you name it, in the filling, to add a little something extra!
For Pumpkin Pie, a Chocolate Stout or Porter, would be awesome! The coffee and chocolate flavors of a sweeter stout or porter would stand up nicely to the darker sugar, molasses, and spice flavor of the pie. A roasty brown ale can make your pie crust sing, especially if your crust is made out of graham crackers and chocolate cookies!
Ok, that’s me! Happy Thanksgiving!