Be Thankful for Beer This Thanksgiving

November 11th, 2009 · 15 Comments · Beer & Food

With Thanksgiving just a couple of weeks away, some people might be starting to plan their menus for the big day. At most traditional Thanksgiving gatherings, 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 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 (and probably roll some eyes) 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.

Any Biere de Garde – I 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; amazing.

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.

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.

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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15 Comments so far ↓

  • gcm

    Two additional suggestions –

    People tend to get their fill of oktoberfest/märzen lagers in September and October, but the style also pairs really well with traditional Thanksgiving food.

    Also, Widmer’s 84/09 Double Alt would make a great choice at the table. I opened up a bottle of this a few weeks ago and the flavors had really come together. Also, the 9.8% ABV was pretty stealthy.

  • Tim Nichols

    Harvest Ales work great, and Rogue’s Fresh Wet Hop Ale would make a nice turkey pairing.

  • Kaiser

    Oh, yeah…fresh hop beers would be a fantastic pairing. Good call.

    GCM – I don’t think I ever had a chance to try that one.

  • Pat

    im also an Oliver follower, used to get Saison Dupont at a ‘Bristol Farms’ in S.D. Anyone know where to get it up here?

  • Kevin

    I started planning my Thanksgiving meal the other day; beer included.

    We are doing a very small gathering this year and with my wife being a vegetarian, the only meat being served is the turkey. This steered me away from the heavier seasonals.

    I plan on serving Hennepin before dinner and both Rogue’s Brutal Bitter and Oakshire’s Ill Tempered Gnome during. I may brake out a bottle of Abyss afterward if anyone is in the mood.


  • Pat

    as for biere de garde, one of my favorite style, Lost Abbey (the belgian wing of Port brewing) makes a couple great ones

  • derkruk

    One Thanksgiving I cracked an Anchor Our Special Ale. It paired really well with all the food!

  • Kaiser

    Pat – any of the links on the left side of the page for “Beer Retailers” should have Saison DuPont.

  • terry

    I’ll take the Redhook Tripel … MMMMMM

  • TigerJo

    This is my favorite time of the year for beer. It’s so much easier to find non-hop-heavy brews.

    But when you said “…and help to refresh the pallet…” I think you really meant “palate”.

  • brewsterra

    Pike Auld Acquaintance paired perfectly with turkey, yams, garlic green beans and of course, pumpkin pie with cinnamon whipped cream last night at the new Interbay Whole Foods fundraiser for the Pike Place Market Food Bank. XXXXX Stout was stunning with the Penn Cove Select oysters appetizer. You should have been there! It just confirmed what we already knew about Pike beers…they are brewed to go with food.

  • Dave

    May I recommend Urthel Hop-it for your Thanksgiving feast. This Belgian IPA has citrus-hop notes that are well balanced with malt, giving it refreshing contrast from rich food without being overly bitter. The Belgian yeast produces wonderful spice (cinnamon, clove) notes that are perfect with the Thanksgiving menu as well. And at 9.5%, you are sure to have a merry holiday!

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  • Pat

    anyone find Castelain in stock? checked out the Pike St, De Laurenti in Pike Place, and both Capitol Hill Qfc’s with no luck.

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