Beers on Thanksgiving

The right brews for before, during, and after turkey time.

November 10, 2010

Don’t give them any beer.

It’s nothing personal.

I’m sure your family’s memories of Thanksgiving 2009—the cranberry-sauce foam, the brown-gravy gelee—are fond ones.

But for some reason, they asked you to leave your molecular gastronomy goggles at home this year and just bring beer.

Not sure which brews to buy? Here are some thoughts.

Jubelale, from Deschutes in Portland, is my go-to holiday beer. The maltiness of this winter ale feels celebratory, while the hops inspire a sense of anticipation. Hale’s easy-drinking Kolsch, meanwhile, is the locally made crowd-pleaser. Nobody ever threw that beer out of bed for eating crackers.

If you’re thinking in terms of the turkey, opt for amber ales. For one thing, people like them. For another, their toasted maltiness goes well with the caramelized flavors of roasted fowl. And imbibed preprandially, ambers will prep your palate to anticipate those flavors. Good beers to drink while cooking, in other words. (Not that anyone is letting you near the kitchen). The safe choice here is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico, California. True beer dorks may yawn, but with its just-enough hoppiness and citrus-but-floral bouquet, Sierra makes everybody happy. Other local options: the Immersion Amber from Two Beers Brewing or Redhook’s ESB Original Ale.

Stouts always feel right with dessert—the No Doubt Stout from Elliot Bay Brewing is a roasty treat with some bitterness that will contrast well with the sweetness of pies, cakes, and cookies. And the creamy Dragonstooth Stout from Elysian Brewing smells of molasses and chocolate, tastes like coffee, and, like No Doubt, has enough bitterness to balance those sugary Thanksgiving desserts.

Show up with any of these brews (and without your half-charred copy of The Fat Duck Cookbook ), and your family will give thanks.

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