Have you treated yourself to a new pair of elastic-waist pants yet? Because it’s almost Thanksgiving, or as we like to call it, The Eating Olympics. This holiday is about two things: gathering with those you love, and stuffing your face with food you love. It’s a time to go for it and make all the dishes you dream about all year, whether it’s a pie recipe that’s been passed down in your family for generations or your own personal argument that ramen can actually be a Thanksgiving game-changer. Either way, here in the state of New York, we’re all apparently going to be eating stuffing.
We all have our favorite sides, desserts, and appetizers for this celebration, and that got us thinking: what are some of our brewer pals’ go-to’s for beer? And how does that beer actually pair with their best-loved Thanksgiving dishes? We’ve long ditched the idea that only wine is fancy enough for a special occasion like Thanksgiving--as craft beer lovers, we’ve known that a brew is its own fete in a bottle or can. Putting a little bit of thought into how to perfectly pair these brews with Thanksgiving dishes can elevate the entire evening, and add a fun new level to this year’s revelry. So, read on for brewers’ picks on Thanksgiving beers, Thanksgiving dishes, and why they’re matches made in Thanksgiving heaven.
Jon Moore and Jason Pazmino, Gay Beer
Gay Beer Golden Lager is a great beer pick for Thanksgiving, because its lightness and crispness temper all the heaviness and richness often found on the table. There’s really nothing a beer this versatile doesn’t complement, but Jason supplied a few specifics that sound extra delicious and already have us in the creative cheese-plate-arranging, cooking mood.
“We feel like Gay Beer is the perfect refreshing beer to pair at the entry of a meal and carry all the way through all courses. It would be great to pair with a rich/sharp cheese plate. Gay Beer’s bright and crisp citrus notes cleanse the palate after every bite of sharp, salty, or punchy cheese and gets you ready for the next! It also pairs nicely with appetizers such as roasted winter squash set atop a turmeric yogurt finished with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.”
Jeremy Cohn and Jared Roubens, Moody Tongue Brewing Company
Moody Tongue is all about a heightened culinary approach to beer and an emphasis on beer-and-food pairings, so we knew any recommendation from co-founders Jeremy and John would add some instant wow factor to a Thanksgiving spread. They picked the brewery’s Oak Barrel-Aged Flanders Red Ale. It’s a take on the classic Belgian style that’s bursting with tart, dark fruit flavors, made even more complex with oaky warmth. For an ideal match, Jeremy has just the dish.
“We think a fun pairing would be your favorite cranberry dish (or sauce) with our Oak Barrel-Aged Flanders Red Ale. Both highlight complementary flavor notes of tart, dark red fruits--which together make for the perfect indulgent Thanksgiving bite.”
Denise Ford-Sawadogo, Montclair Brewery
Speaking of cranberry sauce, Montclair Brewery co-founder Denise has her own favorite beer for the dish, which she sees as a versatile dose of sweetness and tartness for turkey or beef. Denise’s husband, Leo, co-founder and brewmaster, is a chef and baker, and the pair crafts each and every idea for each and every beer based on unique flavors and how those flavors will work with food. Denise suggests bringing that cranberry sauce to life with Montclair’s Golden Buddha Passion Fruit Ale, and she also has some guidance for Thanksgiving feasts that include seafood.
“One of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes is homemade cranberry sauce on turkey or beef and I enjoy that with our Golden Buddha Passion Fruit Ale. The combination of the fruity, sweet, and savory of the dish combined with the slightly tart Golden Buddha ale helps balance out the melange of tasty flavors. Our Claremont Pilsner with seafood is a close second! The crispness and herbal notes of the pilsner complement fried fish, shrimp scampi, and other seafood options.”
Bailey Spaulding, Jackalope Brewing Company
One of the first flavors that comes to mind when you think of a Thanksgiving meal is maple. It’s a quintessential fall flavor with harvesty vibes right in line with the holiday, and it’s got a balance of sweetness and spice that can inject both dinner and dessert dishes with a bit of decadence. Jackalope CEO and brewmaster Bailey Spaulding has both a beer and a dish that, together, beautifully marry indulgent maple flavors.
“My favorite Thanksgiving side is maple roasted Brussels sprouts. The sweet maple flavor pairs perfectly with our Maple Brown, Bearwalker! Bearwalker was inspired by my Vermont roots. Pure maple syrup is infused during the conditioning phase, and chocolate malts add roasted notes to the flavor and aroma. It is also more highly hopped than most browns to create a balanced, yet complex brew that pairs perfectly with any Thanksgiving meal.”
Jonathan Newman, The Virginia Beer Company
Virginia Beer Company brewmaster Jonathan has a favorite Thanksgiving dish that combines these popular flavors mentioned above: both maple and cranberry. And this dish is one of those family traditions that somehow works as both a side and a dessert (you know, the one you end up eating helpings of at both courses because it’s just that good!). We dare you to not get hungry and excited for Thanksgiving with this pairing of VBC’s Elbow Patches Oatmeal Stout and maple apple-cranberry pie.
“My mom has been making this apple-cranberry dish for years--baked apples and cranberries with loads of brown sugar and maple oatmeal for a crust. I guess it is technically a side dish for the main Thanksgiving meal, but let's be honest, it is a dessert (and even better for breakfast the next morning, also with an Elbow Patches). The maple sweetness and fruity tartness from the cranberries and apples just pairs incredibly well with the soft palate and chocolate roastiness of Elbow Patches. It's like chocolate-covered cranberries when you pair the two, and it just can't be beat in my book.”
Lisa Pumphrey, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery
For Lickinghole Creek co-founder and CEO Lisa, there’s a beer bursting with big, bold, beautiful flavors that happen to get along superbly with some of Thanksgiving dinner’s own big, bold, beautiful flavors. This particular brew brings a bit of Belgian influence to the table. It’s special enough for the most special occasion, and will play up fresh elements of your best-loved, tried and true dishes.
“The Three Chopt Tripel Ale is our American twist on a Belgian classic tripel. Motueka hops add tropical notes, and the Belgian yeast adds flavor hints of banana with a dry finish. Three Chopt pairs nicely with the traditional Thanksgiving meal of rosemary roasted turkey and mashed potatoes. The sweet Belgian candi-syrup notes compliment your sweet potato casserole and emphasize the full marshmallow sweetness.’
Drew Brosseau, Mayflower Brewing Company
It just so happens that Mayflower Brewing Company basically wrote the book on the ideal Thanksgiving beer: they have an actual Thanksgiving Ale, after all! Complex yet easy-drinking, this beer seamlessly weaves together all the sweet, spiced, warming flavors and aromas of the quintessential turkey-day extravaganza. So, it’s no wonder that according to the brewery’s president and owner, Drew, the Thanksgiving Ale pairs with the whole shebang, start to finish.
“Mayflower’s Thanksgiving Ale is the perfect beverage to go with your entire Thanksgiving meal. This malt-forward style, aged on oak, is a unique combination of an English Old Ale and an American Strong Ale that offers hints of caramel, vanilla, and spicy nuts. Its rich and complex flavor complements the full range of Thanksgiving feasts, from turkey to stuffing to warm apple pie.”