To many, Thanksgiving is a day to surround themselves with friends and family and be thankful for the people in our lives. To others, Thanksgiving is a day of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. To us brewers, Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to show off our beer and food pairing chops. It’s like a beer dinner but instead of pairing beer with multiple courses, you get many side dishes, sauces and of course, turkey!
To make you the hero of Thanksgiving and life a little less hectic, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you plan out your Thanksgiving meal beer pairings. Stock up on growlers, crowlers, reserve bottles and cans. Because, nothing makes a great holiday like Thanksgiving greater than lots of friends and family, delicious food and lots of delicious beer!
Roasted Turkey – The Centerpiece
Customarily roasted, turkey is the centerpiece of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. However, no matter how you prepare your turkey, try pairing it with Vienna Red Lager. The caramelization (oxidation of sugars) and maillard reaction (reducing of sugars) give food and specific malts used in beer (particularly Vienna Red Lager) their distinct caramel, nutty, bready and toast like flavors. And, both processes are happening to your turkey while roasting in your oven. Reach for that Vienna Red Lager when digging into your turkey this Thanksgiving.
Stuffing – Turkey’s Sidekick
The turkey and stuffing “sidekick” relationship seems a bit more like “friends with benefits” but we know one thing, you can’t enjoy Thanksgiving turkey with out its carbohydrate pal, stuffing. Reach for a bottle of our Abbey Dubbel before partaking in that first fork full of stuffing. Abbey Dubbel is complex, fruit and just a bit spicy; making it the perfect pairing for the bread- and veggie-laden, sometimes sausage adorned stuffing side dish.
Po-tay-toes – Boil ’em, Mash ’em, Stick ’em in a Stew
Yes, yes…we couldn’t resist the nerdy temptation of LOTR. Potatoes are another staple of your Thanksgiving feast. You can have the mashed, scalloped, roasted, etc… Either way, they’re still light on flavor and generally take on the palate of the herb or spice you’ve prepared them with, typically butter is involved, maybe a dash of salt. Try pairing your potatoes with Philly Phavorite, a Philadelphia New England IPA. While not as hoppy as a traditional West Coast IPA, Philly Phavorite, with its light fruit notes and burst of resinous pine adds depths of flavor to your potato side dish.
Cranberry Sauce – The Palate Cleanser
Cranberry sauce brings something to your Thanksgiving feast that the rest of the foods can’t…acidity. We like to let Cranberry Sauce take the front seat in this pairing and add depth to the beer, we reach for a bottle of The Cannibal when spooning out the sauce. The Cannibal is light and dry but still has depths of stone fruit and spice from Belgian yeast, which allow it to cut some of the acidity of the Cranberry Sauce. While the Cranberry Sauce adds flavors of cranberries and a pleasantly sweet but acidic bite to The Cannibal.
Pecan Pie – The Sweet Ending Embrace
Every Thanksgiving feast needs to end with an incredible dessert! Pumpkin and apple pie might be a tradition but pecan pie with a scoop of ice cream is magical when paired with Russian Imperial Stout. Pecan Pie can be a touch syrupy sweet, Russian Imperial Stout helps to tame that caramel, molasses sweetness with a touch of dry, roastiness. Plus, Russian Imperial Stout brings to the table notes of chocolate and freshly roasted coffee, adding depth complexity to the dish.
This article was contributed by Dan Petersen, Head Brewer at Iron Hill Brewery in Media, PA.