Strange as it may seem to some, not everyone is a wine drinker… and even if you are, maybe it’s time to explore outside the “Turkey and Pinot” or “Thanksgiving Beaujolais” box. For our American readers celebrating Thanksgiving this week, here are some suggestions for adding variety and options from the plethora of beers now being produced in the USA for your non-wino guests.
First, avoid commercial highly carbonated fizz-bombs, unless you just want to quench your thirst with a watery beverage and fill your belly with bubbles so you can’t eat as much – maybe useful for a diet, but not much else!
One of the good things about beer is that they are typically small bottles, so you can present a variety for people to enjoy according to the menu and their preference – maybe put out “suggested” groupings for each course and let them serve themselves in a tasting style – wine glasses work perfectly for this, rather then pint mugs!
Wheat beers or Hefeweizen, if they’re not too gassy, can offer crispness that cuts the richness of the meal, and are not a bad way to start out the meal. Try: Allagash White, Prairie Vous Francais, Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen
Saison or “farm” ales, and English bitter styles, tend to have an earthy character, with the sweetness of malt balanced with good bitterness, that can go well with a roast dinner and the condiments of Thanksgiving. Some American brown ales and ambers share the sweet maltiness, along with nutty flavors that compliment a good home-made stuffing. Try: Speakeasy Prohibition Ale, Anchor Brewing Brekle’s Brown, Firestone Easy Jack, Freehouse Ashley Farmhouse Ale
Sours and “wild yeast” beers have similarities to wine. Some of these go great with turkey and fixings, but avoid the ones that are too sweet and highly alcoholic; they will conflict with the richness of the food and are so “big” as to be overwhelming, and nobody will be able to move after the meal – if they even manage to get through it! Some of these however, especially very intense dark versions, can make superb dessert accompaniments. Stouts and Porters are good choices for dessert, ranging from less sweet/alcoholic versions to “over the top” Imperial Stout versions. Try: Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break, Evil Twin Sour Bikini, New Belgium 1554 Black Lager, Deschutes Pinot Suave
Pumpkin Ale… If you really must! Throw one out there to add color to the seasonal display, but there are far more interesting options, and many seasonal pumpkin ales are really not that special. On the other hand… Try: Bruery Autumn Maple, Almanac Heirloom Pumpkin
Final word: although there are some great pairings to be had from overseas (Belgian sours, German hefeweizen etc.) remember it’s a National holiday; you’ll find plenty of great American beers in all these styles once you start looking! Having said that, there’s nothing like an authentic English bitter, so we’ll throw in Coniston Bluebird for good measure!