Thanksgiving is just two weeks away and, as we prepare for the feast, we ask two questions: “What are we having to eat?” and “What are we having to drink?”
The possibilities for the second question are nearly endless. Fortunately, we’re here to make some sense of it with our annual Thanksgiving Day beer/food pairing post! Our Beer Geeks from eight of our stores across the country have shared their ideas on what to put on your table this Thanksgiving holiday.
Styles run the gamut from fruit-based goses to coffee stouts. And we even have a recommendation for cooking with beer!
Brian Kervick, Owner – CBC Nashua (NH)
Great North Aleworks Cranberry Wit
“I’ve always loved the tart and slightly bitter flavor of cranberry. It’s a perfect contrast to all the rich and salty gravy, meaty turkey, and buttery and creamy mashed potatoes on a typical Thanksgiving plate. But I HATE the texture of canned cranberry sauce.
Solution: Great North Cranberry Wit. The classic Belgian wit spice additions of coriander and citrus peel fit in seamlessly and allow the cranberry to fill its rightful home (near but not) on the plate. The slight tartness and fruity bitterness cuts through the fat and heaviness of the dish without too much acid throwing the balance of it all out of whack.
If you’ve got an Aunt who makes a killer homemade cranberry sauce, the beer will harmonize beautifully with it. For the rest of us, we’re now free from any canned cranberry coercion. ”
Beer Geek Rebecca Mabee and team – CBC DC
Avery Brewing El Gose & Mikkeller Brunch Weasel
“At Thanksgiving, it’s time to indulge. Bring on the heavy carbs, dessert-like sides, meats, and gravies. When pairing a beer with this flavor-heavy meal, we prefer to reach for one that’s light and effervescent to cleanse the palate between butter-filled bites. Avery El Gose is perfect for the task. The sea salt complements meats and gravies, while the lime zest’s bitter citrus edge cuts through sugary side dishes. Comfort food meets velvety mouthfeel, and the 4.5% ABV leaves room for my second and third helping.
A few hours after the dinner, everyone reconvenes for the second feast of Thanksgiving: dessert. Namely, pie. Sweet potato, pumpkin, pecan…we can’t help it as slice follows slice. What better beer to go with the variety of pies than Mikkeller’s Brunch Weasel. A super rare beer with “weasel” coffee, it’s a worthy holiday treat. The chocolatey richness of roasted malt and the added coffee make it the perfect substitute for the usual dessert coffee, and the 10.9% ABV is an excellent way to end the night.”
Ben Heilman, Owner – CBC Hickory (NC)
Westbrook Brewing One Claw Rye Pale Ale
“Growing up, one of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving dinner (aside from us kids fighting over who can put the most amount of cool whip on their pumpkin pie), is the smorgasbord of food that my family always set out BEFORE the main smorgasbord. A pre-smorgasbord, if you will. This almost always included, but was not limited to: brie cheese, fruit, various cured meats and sausages, and olives. My GOD, the olives! Black, green, kalamata, green stuffed with feta, pits, and no pits. It’s enough to make a Greek man weep.
This is why I always gravitate towards a rye-based beer. Specifically, Westbrook’s One Claw Rye Pale Ale. The rye gives the beer a nice, subtle sweetness to the malt, as well as a hint of spiciness and citrus that pairs perfectly with any meat or strong cheese that’s sitting on the counter in front of you. To add to these flavors, the Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops only emphasize the malty characteristics described earlier.”
The team at CBC Gardiner (ME)
Brewery De Ranke Guldenberg Belgian Abbey Ale
“Pleasing a crowd isn’t always an easy task. But we believe we have a beer that can do the trick: Brewery De Ranke’s Guldenberg Belgian Abbey Ale. When you pour this hazy, golden Belgian tripel, your guests will be dazzled by the large, foamy, white head. Aromas of spice, fruit, and earth pair well with the bountiful harvest we all celebrate at Thanksgiving dinner. Malt and candy sugar sweetness are sublimely balanced against the hop bitterness supplied by Hallertau bittering and aroma hops.
But how does it stand up to the rich foods of the day? No fear! The fizzy carbonation will cleanse your palate after every sip you take. Guldenberg is strong enough to stand up to the flavors of Thanksgiving dinner without overpowering the meal. Time to add to the list of things to be thankful for!”
Justin Schalow, Co-Owner – CBC Hot Springs (AR)
Wiseacre Brewing Co. Gotta Get Up, To Get Down
“Thanksgiving is perhaps the oldest of American traditions – a time for family, friends, food and football! Oh, and of course the crown atop this lovely meal and fellowship – dessert. With that said, why not pair this amazing coffee stout, created by the fine folks at Wiseacre Brewing, with that slice of pecan pie?
Gotta Get Up, To Get Down is 5% ABV, and 15 IBU’s. The beans used to give this brew its incredible aromas and sweet, roasty flavors hail from the Konga region of Ethiopia. This brew pours deep brown – almost black, actually – with a rich, thick espresso-colored head. As you sip, you will experience notes of roasted malts, coffee and chocolate – making it the perfect mate to that slice of pecan pie, with a dollop of whip cream!”
Barry Sussman, Owner – CBC Fort Point (MA)
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen
“Generally, this smoke beer is a great fall/winter beer and a wonderful drink to go with roasted poultry such as a turkey dinner. But we will also be cooking with it this year to make a simple but tasty sauteed baby onion side dish. The dish includes baby onions (of course), butter, beer and bread crumbs.
Saute the onions in the butter until they just start to caramelize. Add a cup of the beer (save the rest to drink while you cook) and saute over low heat for five minutes. The breadcrumbs – preferably panko – will be sauteed separately with just a bit of butter and thyme until they are browned slightly. Then they are sprinkled on top of the onions.”
Brent Bates, Ashley Davenport, Lori Davenport – CBC Torrance (CA)
Boulevard Long Strange Tripel, The Bruery Autumn Maple
“The Bruery’s Autumn Maple is a Belgian-style brown ale that is a sneaky 10% ABV, a smooth, velvety beer that highlights bold fall flavors. Made with yams, molasses and maple syrup, it complements almost every component of the meal all the way through dessert. Boulevard’s Long Strange Tripel is a classic Belgian Tripel with inviting aromas and the perfect amount of bitterness. A surprisingly light tasting beer for 9.2% ABV that will appeal to all dinner guests!
So kick back, eat some delicious food, drink some amazing beers and enjoy your day filled with family, friends and thankfulness!”
Tatum Stewart, Owner – CBC Plymouth (MA)
Mayflower Brewing Thanksgiving Ale & Long Trail Cranberry Gose
“Mayflower Thanksgiving Ale, a Strong Ale, is a full-bodied beer brewed with a rich array of barley and rye malts and aged several weeks on toasted oak. It’s the perfect beverage for America’s hometown holiday. Thanksgiving Ale has aromas of toffee, caramel and bread with the dark fruit undertones present in the taste. It pairs well with turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pecan pie.
The Cranberry Gose is brewed with whole cranberries from Bluewater Farms in Wareham, MA, with coriander and a splash of salt. The result is a refreshingly tart and light cranberry gose. This beer is balanced by underlying wheat and coriander, with a cranberry flavor that is not too tart or sweet. It features the true essence of local cranberries.
We recommend pairing this beer with turkey, cranberry sauce, cheese plates and apple pie.”