To quote the Dropkick Murphys, the season’s upon us, it’s that time of year…
Okay, I know that’s from a Christmas song, but let’s face it, with the family focus of both holidays, it’s widely accepted that this weekend marks the beginning of the high-holiday season. For my, and many other families, this is the start of high gorging season.
There is a long history of pairing these family feasts with wine…well, wine, and if you’re in the majors, whiskey or bourbon.
But me, I like to go with beer pairings. And you’re seeing more and more articles that are promoting the same idea; beer pairs well with your Thanksgiving dinner.
Yeah, there are beers that are not ideal – pilsners tend to get a little overwhelmed by the robust flavors of turkey, gravy , cranberry sauce and your other typical holiday flavors, but if you go heavier, and heartier, there’s a lot to recommend…
For a meal like Thanksgiving, you want to go bold, robust, and filled with flavor, as opposed to subtle – think barley wines, Alts, IPA’s, browns, most anything that falls under that unofficial “Imperials” subcategory, or even lambics.
This is how I break it down –
Turkey is going to pair well with the barley wine and the alts, beers that stand up well to the rich flavors, the butter and the oils often used to cook the star of Thanksgiving dinner. Belgian strongs also work very well here.
Most of your stouts and IPA’s will work better, I believe, with your appetizers and sides, depending on what sort of thing you like to serve. Stuffed mushrooms? (Particularly with feta) work remarkably well with an IPA. I would lean towards stout with something like a green bean casserole, and even with the mashed potatoes, but the IPA again with something like sweet potatoes. And maybe the stout, or a nut brown with your stuffing – although, if the stuffing is an oyster stuffing, I think I would then lean towards the IPA.
As for dessert or your cranberry sauce, I think I would go with a fruit beer – a cranberry or cherry lambic, perhaps even a nut brown. The maltiness of a nut brown will pair very well with a pecan pie, and would work with pumpkin pie, but if you are gorging yourself on something fruity, and sweet, find yourself a nice, complementary fruit beer – maybe tart, maybe dry, maybe even a touch sour. Depending on how it’s paired, it could really make that dessert pop, or, conversely, the confection could make that beer pop.
Of course, the bottom line is that none of these pairings matter, if you don’t like the styles. Get what you like, and enjoy your day. Oh, and don’t forget to loosen the top of those pants to make a little extra room for your beer.
I will forgo the Tapped and Uncapped segment this week, but I am going to let everyone know there might be some minor changes to the column in the coming weeks – most notably a sponsored segment. I will provide more details on that as things are finalized on that front.
Until next week, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, a great Hanukkah, be well, and drink good beer.