My Top 5 Beer Styles To Pair With A Thanksgiving Meal
Thanksgiving meals for a lot of families include some kind of alcohol, usually several kinds. While I'm more of a bourbon or good red wine kind of guy, I do drink beer on occasion and especially like to drink it if I can pair it with a meal.
Now, please note that I'm not talking Michelob Golden or Busch Light as pairing beers. I'm talking about real beer. Beer with more complex flavors that will get the taste buds even more aroused than a delicious deep fried turkey. I don't get fancy enough to pair a beer with every dish, so let's talk about a few that will work with the turkey, certain side dishes, and of course, dessert.
Founders Brewing Co. out of Michigan, has a great scotch ale called Dirty Bastard. It's available year-round and has an alcohol volume of 8.5%. Plus, it's a tad smoky and it's richness will complement that turkey well. Most scotch ales will work well with the staple main course of Thanksgiving though, so grab what is convenient. I haven't met a scotch ale that was disappointing yet.
Saison beers have a little more carbonation in them, and generally a bit more hints of fruits. You won't generally get the higher alcohol level like the scotch ales, but even at 5-6.5% alcohol, it will get you there. One of my go-to Saison beers is Megadeth's A TOUT LE MONDE. Mostly because it's Megadeth beer, as it's for sure not the best Saison I have had, but it will get you there, and impress your metal fan Thanksgiving guests. The fruit hints in these beers pair well with turkey, and may with other parts of your holiday meal, like green been casserole.
BELGIAN-STYLE PALE ALE:
Along the lines of having the fruit hints of the Saison beers, Belgian-Style pale ales can go well with turkey. Usually they have some pepper notes that help with the pairing and if you want to stick with a Minnesota beer for this, I would suggest Surly Brewing Co. Unfortunately my top pick of their beer to fit this category is the Cynic, and it's not always available and when it is, it's usually only on tap. I suppose you could smuggle in some turkey in your cargo pants to give it a try. Otherwise, while not necessarily a Belgian-Style pale ale, Summit Brewing Co. out of St. Paul, has their Extra Pale Ale which is always easy to find in stores and will pair with that meat and even cranberry sauce.
Samuel Adams Boston Lager will pair with just about anything. If you like lagers, you know. While it's not really a local craft beer, it's again one that is easy to find and can keep the shopping simple. Plus, even if they aren't pairing it, a lot of your guests will probably enjoy the option. It's only 4.9% alcohol but it goes down smooth and could possibly pair with everything from apps, main course staples, and into dessert, depending on what you are serving.
I titled this as I did because it's the kind of beer flavoring I want to focus on. Beers with coffee might include some stouts, ales, or other forms. They put coffee in so many now, it's hard to just focus on one, though I will. Bent Paddle Brewing Co. which is out of Duluth, Minnesota makes a Cold Press Black Coffee Ale. It's smooth, and if you usually have coffee with dessert anyway, this will work well with just about anything. I'd even argue you could consume this with most of your Thanksgiving feast, though that's how much I like coffee. A good Imperial Stout would also work great for desserts to add that extra level of full feeling before the night's end.
These are some of my choices, and obviously there are so many beer brands and styles out there, the options are almost endless. What are some of your favorites to pair with Thanksgiving meals?