Beer Suggestions for Your Thanksgiving Feast

November 24th, 2010 · 11 Comments · Beer & Food

At most traditional Thanksgiving gatherings tomorrow, the average person will be holding a wine glass when it comes time to wash down the turkey and trimmings. But, before making the choice for wine, you should consider the argument for beer.

Beer styles that would go well with turkey and the trimmings include many winter seasonals, biere de garde, dunkel, dubbel, marzen and American amber. Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table, sings the praises of serving biere de garde with your Thanksgiving feast:

“Biere de garde is brilliant with turkey. And not just with with turkey – it is also brilliant with the turnips, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the potatoes, the whole darned thing. Biere de garde is the Thansgiving beer. My sommelier friends rack their brains every year, trying to answer the constant nagging question everyone asks them – what wine is good with turkey? The answer, of course, is not wine but beer.”

If you really want to turn some heads at your Thanksgiving festivities this year, consider bringing some of these beers:

Orval – This would be a perfect beer to serve pre-dinner. It’s a refreshingly bitter and herbal beer that helps to cleanse the palate between different appetizers. One of my favorite beers of all time.

Saison Dupont – Saison just may be the most versatile beer style and would be a great choice to match the dizzying array of sides your mom might be serving this year. A complex mixture of spices and herb flavors combine with a sharp bitterness to make this beer stand out with any dish. Saison Dupont is the classic example of this style and is widely available. It’s a guarantee to be at my Thanksgiving table.

Any Biere de Garde – I (still) do not have much experience with this style of beer, but according to Mr. Oliver these complex beers are perfect compliments to dishes with strong herbal components (such as stuffing) and help to refresh the palate. I’d head to a local bottle shop and ask for suggestions.

Elysian The Wise ESB – If you’re looking for a more hop-forward beer for dinner, this would be a good option. There is plenty of sweet malt to go along with the roasted flavors of the turkey. I once brined an entire turkey in Elysian ESB overnight and then served it with the beer for dinner. It turned out great.

Local Winter Ales – Winter ales are usually malt-forward and should pair well with what you’re having for dinner. There are plenty around; a quick trip to the grocery store or bottle shop and you’ll find several options. I’d suggest grabbing a growler fill of one of my new favorites, the Big Al Winter Warmer. I just had a pint of the new batch at the brewery tap room in White Center last week, and this year’s version is as good as I remember from last year.

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout – This would be a fantastic choice to pair with dessert, especially pumpkin pie. It has lots of roasted malt with a dry, smooth finish.

Sierra Nevada Celebration – This fantastic seasonal IPA might not pair particularly well with dinner, but it’s great to have around pre-dinner for hanging out watching football. It’s become one of my favorite IPAs, and it is seasonal and won’t be on shelves forever. I rarely buy six-packs of anything, yet I’m on my third sixer of this in a month.

I know what I’m thankful for this year. I’m thankful that Seattle has so much good beer to drink!

Please, if you have any Thanksgiving pairing favorites feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks to alternatePhotography on Flickr for the photo.

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11 Comments so far ↓

  • edot

    interesting you recommend beire de garde. I will have to nab a few bottles of mine out of cold storage for dinner tomorrow.

    i would also like to shamelessly promote Iron Horse’s Quilter’s Irish Death. It’s desert in a glass 🙂

  • elvis

    thanks. great topic. and i, too, can drink Celebration Ale without blinking.

  • Tim Nichols

    Good suggestions! Beer pairs much better with Thanksgiving than wine. The Dupont Avec Les Bon Voeux, and Pike’s Auld Aquaintance also goodies! Red Barn’s fire barrel cider not to be overlooked either.

  • Edwin

    Ebenezer Ale from Bridgeport Brewery, and Santa’s Private Reserve from Rogue Brewery

  • DonS

    Don’t forget the Lager Love. A märzenbier or amber Oktoberfest lager, or even a good Franconian lager will do well, and if your turkey has been smoked, Schlenkerla Helles will do nicely. If you’re pumpkin-pie-ing for dessert, why not Elysian’s Dark o’ the Moon? Or make the beer the dessert: Cascade’s Bourbonic Plague, a beer that I’d pick as most impressive beer tasted in 2010.

  • Malty One

    “Iron Horse’s Quilter’s Irish Death. It’s desert in a glass…” So, that means it’s really dry? I only eat sand when a clam wasn’t properly cleaned, so I can’t quite imagine consuming a desert.

  • Anna Bee

    Am I a wimp to mention Rogue’s hazelnut brown nectar? This was a hit with the crowd a couple of weekends ago in Portland.

  • John

    Rogue hazelnut brown nectar sounds delicious with Turkey. I’ll be drinking Celebration throughout the day with some Pike Entire as dessert.

  • Geoff

    I enjoyed an 07 Abyss with my pie tonight. Time for a nap…

  • DonS

    Beers with dinner: Saison Dupont (probably a ten-year-old bottle, cellared and aged very nicely) and La Rulles Estivale. Both beers paired wonderfully with everything. For dessert, Cascade Bourbonic Plague, with tastings of pumpkin pie, apple pie, cherry cheesecake, and a pumpkin roll-up filled with sweet creamy cheese (a family recipe, very nice and festive) to accompany. I shared the CBP with others, because they told me they “liked dark beer.” You should have seen people go saucer-eyed over this one – not a single negative comment, either, just expressions of amazed delight. These were Portlanders, and they’d never had it. Good times, and thanks for starting this discussion, Geoff. See you at Bigwood?

  • derkruk

    Anchor Our Special Ale, a magnum from ’02. Tasty with the turkey.

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