Each year, I round up some of the best beers that should accompany your Thanksgiving dinner choices. Every year, there is a lot more press and attention paid to craft beer’s place at the dinner table, and I couldn’t think of a better dinner to showcase the diversity of beer styles now appearing in American craft beer markets. I, for one, am thankful to live in New England, both because of its culture and long history, but also because I will never run out of amazing beer to pair with this feast. This vintage ad from 1954 states what we all know to be true – “Beer Belongs, Enjoy It!”
This year’s reccomendations:
1. Bull Jagger – Dirigo Crimson Lager – The newest release from all-lager brewery Bull Jagger has the entire town talking. Pouring a bright red, and coming in at a sessionable 5% ABV, you can have this extremely drinkable lager and then follow it with another without getting to sloppy before the sweet potatoes hit the dinner table. It can’t be beat on its adaptability and smoothness. It is malty and goes down easy, and is light enough not to overwhelm anything on your plate, while still bringing plenty of flavor to the table. This is the ultimate drink to pair with meat and savory parts of the meal, also for appetizers (cheese, crackers, sausage).
2. Throwback – Maple Kissed Wheat Porter – A great complement to some of the sweeter parts of the meal (think sweet potato casserole with marshmallows), this beer is both subtle and very tasty. It is dark, but there’s no bitterness at all. It has a tiny little roasty note, and you have to look hard but the maple is there. It works to draw out the right flavors in a meal, or to cut through some of the saltier dishes (like green beans). I think that this one is great on its own but also has a lot of potential for dinner.
3. Harpoon – Grateful Harvest Cranberry – For those who have tasted and tried other cranberry brews, hear me out on this one. It’s not funky, it’s not wild, it’s just the right blend of tartness and sweetness to go with the meal. Its reddish hue is fun and the aroma will be a good conversation starter. Additionally, what I think is quite special about the beer, is that Harpoon has set this up so that $1 from every six pack sold goes to a food bank in the local area where it’s purchased. So if you buy your beer in NH, it goes to a NH food bank. Imbibing in Massachusetts? It goes to feed your MA neighbors. Recently, the the members of the Seacoast Beverage Lab Podcast hung out with Dan Kenary – a founder of Harpoon – about Harpoon’s brewing as well as the charitable efforts. You can checkout the episode here: http://www.seacoastbeveragelab.com/episode-13-dan-kenary-harpoon-brewery/
4. Sierra Nevada – Tumbler – This is described as an “autumn brown ale” which I would slightly disagree with. There are enough hops in here to make it feel almost like a nice hoppy amber, but the malts also play well to give this beer some depth. I am not a huge fan of brown ales as a general rule, but only because they can be one-note when consumed alone. With food, however, you can use them to pickup some nuttiness, and roast notes in your turkey and stuffing. This beer is especially awesome with anything smoked. It is also pretty widely-available and well-liked, so it would be easy to pick up a few six packs of this to share with family and friends.
5. Rising Tide – Tempest – You’ll have to act quickly to grab this one, as it is a limited release. Brewed as the first release from Rising Tide’s new seven-barrel series (small batches of interesting and amazing experiments), this one is a porter base with the delightful addition of coffee beans from a local coffee roaster, Bard Coffee. Because it is cold steeped, the burnt taste of coffee is absent, but yet a a chocolately richness remains. A great brew to pair with a slice of pie after a great meal.
I am curious what you all bring to your Thanksgiving dinners!
If the above brews are not your style, you can always look at some of my previous recommendations, but please feel free to suggest your own in comments.
2008 – 5 Beers to Bring To Thanksgiving Dinner
2009 – 5 Beers to Bring To Thanksgiving Dinner
2010 – The Hop Press’ best beer recommendations for Thanksgiving
2010 – Beers to Bring To Thanksgiving Dinner (Local Edition)
2011 – Beers to Bring to Thanksgiving Dinner (Local Edition)
As always, cheers and have a great Thanksgiving!