Thanksgiving Beer and Food Pairings
John Holl, the editor of All About Beer Magazine and author of The American Craft Beer Cookbook, talks about beer-infused side dishes on NBC 4 New York.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There is no need for a present exchange, for long visits to the mall, or even to give a card. It’s just a celebration of family and friends, all gathering – hopefully happily – together over a nice and lovingly prepared meal.
To be together with those you care about, taking in the scents of so many dishes mingling through the air, the sights of parade frivolity, and then football, coming over the airwaves, all while laughter and chatter picks up and falls off from conversations around the house makes this one a holiday for all the senses.
In my house, we go around the table at during dinner and each person is encouraged to say what they’re most thankful for. Knowing this conversation is on the horizon each year is a good way to pause and take stock of your life before the crush of the holidays and endless shopping and socialization take over December.
I’m thankful for my family. My wife, parents, siblings, and a wealth of extended aunts, uncles, cousins and friends all make my existence a better one. I’m thankful for my health, and for a career that allows me to cover an exciting industry and gives me a chance to connect with a wide variety of people while traveling the country.
It’s my hope that you have a happy Thanksgiving, spending time with your own family and friends, enjoying a bit of peace and happiness. All with some good food and drink on your table.
Since this is a beer column, let’s take a minute to talk about some options for your table and some pairings that will elevate the whole meal.
Turkey: Try brown ale, with a light caramel note and smooth grain bill that will help bring out the natural flavors of the bird and add a bit of sweetness to a savory gravy.
Fresh cranberry w/ orange zest: Think about a Belgian white brewed with orange peel and coriander.
Stuffing: A porter, with some nutty, even smoky flavor to draw out the sausage, oysters, or whatever protein you’re using in your recipe.
Dessert: There are still some pumpkin and sweet potato beers on the market, but there are also holiday spiced beers as well. Those will go well with pies. Or try a stout steeped with coffee or aged in bourbon barrels for an after dinner treat.
Go to the next page to see a recipe from The American Craft Beer Cookbook (Storey Publishing, $19.95) that can add some extra beer fun to your table.
First, thanks for this article. I love anything about beer & food pairing. I do see one issue with the given beers and dishes. I don’t eat any of the main course dishes by them selves during my Thanksgiving feast. With the exception of dessert, that one’s spot on (Saint Arnold Pumpkinator with a slice of pecan pie anyone?), what one style would you pick to go with the overall meal? Thanks
In his book “The Brewmaster’s Table”, Garrett Oliver recommends biere de garde to pair with Thanksgiving dinner.
Having followed this suggestion in years past, I can say whole-heartedly that this is a great suggestion. Biere de garde (Castelain or Trois Monts) will pair well with a traditional Turkey Day dinner.
Hey Josh, thanks for the comment. It’s a bit of a tough question to answer. Because of the time of year, the amount of food that is roasted and the flavors those dishes take on, a brown ale is likely your best bet.
Or a cranberry ale, or even one with sweet potato. Something that carries the flavors associated with day.