Guest Post: The Beers You Need for Thanksgiving Dinner

Saturday, November 14, 2015

In the last couple years I've truly grown to enjoy beer and actually prefer it most times over wine or hard liquor. With so many stores improving their selections of craft beers these days, it's always fun looking for an interesting brew. Now, I won't go as far to say that I actually know anything about beer, but luckily there are some experts around for that. For this post, I invited my Twitter friend and fellow food blogger Natasha to share her picks for the perfect Thanksgiving beer pairings!

The Beers You Need for Thanksgiving Dinner
by Natasha Godard

Thanksgiving is, for many folks, the biggest meal of the year. It takes a lot of effort and coordination to get right, and inevitably someone complains about something. While I can’t tell you which pie to serve, I can help you make sure the beer is on point and effortless. And, better yet, many of these beers are relatively low in alcohol, meaning less chance of unfortunate drunken shenanigans. (Though, don’t worry if you want drunken shenanigans! There’s a whopper or two on here.)

Allagash White - Witbier
One of my favorites for everyday drinking and special occasions. As a witbier, Allagash White is made with wheat, coriander, and orange peel. It’s light, effervescent, and goes with just about everything because of it. For Thanksgiving, it won’t weigh you or your guests down if you have one or two before the meal, while the orange and coriander are going to make that cranberry sauce extra nice. Bonus? The turkey will taste fantastic as you have those carbonation bubbles scrubbing your tongue clean between every bite!

Off-Color’s Troublesome - Gose
Goses are also made with wheat and coriander, but they aren’t particularly similar in flavor. Indeed, goses are somewhat tart and delightful. The secret power of gose as a food beer lies in another ingredient: salt. Gose was originally brewed in an area of Germany that had slightly saline water, and thus the beers were slightly saline as well. This means your beer does double duty helping Thanksgiving dinner out, a little extra oomf in salt and tartness, and the same light, effervescence as the witbier above. Troublesome is my favorite gose, but there are many good ones out there.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s Blood Orange Gose - Gose
You may think it’s a bit odd to have two beers of the same style in a list of ten beers, but that’s how sure I am this style is great for Thanksgiving. Furthermore, these two beers show just how different and interesting goses can be. Blood Orange Gose is substantially tarter than Troublesome, as well as slightly more salty and slightly lower alcohol by volume. This beer will make your turkey sing.

Lagunitas PILS - Pilsner
For those who like a little bitter bite in their beer, or just some easy drinking! This style, Czech/Bohemian Pilsner, was the first pale beer, and was an immediate hit. Almost every pale beer that immediately followed was an attempt on someone’s part to replicate it. This is your sleeper hit. Soft, but a lingering bitterness at the end will have everyone extra hungry for more.

Guinness Draught - Dry Stout
No, it won’t fill your guests up, though some may mistakenly think so. As a style, dry stouts actually tend to be fairly thin, while still having some dramatically interesting flavors. A hint of chocolate, a touch of roast coffee, a pleasingly light bitterness (lighter, even, than your pilsner above) will have your guests loading up. And with your little secret, that Guinness is the lowest ABV beer on this list, you can rest comfortable knowing your guests won’t get loaded on this one.

Boulevard Brewing Company’s Tank 7 - American Farmhouse Ale
“Farmhouse” is one of those words that seems like it can’t possibly be a beer style, but it’s all over the bottle shop these days. In this case, it’s going to mean a sensory experience that really can’t be matched. There’s some faint grapefruit notes in here, and a lot of of gentle “funk” that reminds you of chilling out in the backyard on a quiet evening. But with an ABV of 8.5% it will pack a bit more of a punch than those summer nights. But as it comes in a champagne bottle, effectively, not only can you pour elegantly for your guests (or make your younger sibling do it), you will be harkening back to the original intent of gathering together: sharing deliciousness.

Goose Island Brewing Company’s Sofie - Farmhouse Ale
Another beer that manages to be exactly the same style as the previous beer, but wildly different. Except that it also comes perfect for sharing in 750 mL bottles. Sofie is also funky, but much more lightly so. These flavors are much more orange and light, with a correspondingly lower 6.5% ABV. This and/or the Tank 7 are the beers you should pull out for the main party, because they are versatile enough to with damn near any food. Oh, and squirrel a bottle or two away for next year; Sofie develops new and delightful flavors in the bottle for up to five years.

Duvel - Belgian Golden Strong Ale
Bubbly beverages are the best beverages, wouldn’t you agree? And if they happen to be somehow tasting of apples and pears and white pepper, wouldn’t that just make you sigh with delight? And if you want something that’s as delicate-tasting as sparkling wine, with the smoothness of a super spy, and the wallop of a dragon? This is your beer. Best of all? All of these traits make a Belgian Golden Strong exactly as excellent to pair with dinner as the low-ABV goses and witbier above.

Rochefort 6 - Belgian Dubbel
Don’t you think I forgot dessert, though! That’s the best part of Thanksgiving dinner! You’re half stuffed, and you couldn’t possibly eat even one. more. thing… And then someone walks out with the pies, and the spice flavors are overwhelming. Well, something’s got to wash all that down. And a Belgian Dubbel is just the ticket. Flavors of faint dark fruits like dates and raisins will play fantastically well with that pecan pie, while mild hints of caramel and chocolate will elevate that pumpkin pie.

Final Notes:
Whatever beers you choose, you’re going to enjoy yourself. So don’t stress too much about selections. This is especially true because, due to arcane federal and state liquor regulations, you may not be able to find specific beers on this list. That’s ok. Go to your local beer shop and ask the geek behind the counter to help you find something in the style. Generally speaking, any good beer in these styles will be fabulous with food. Enjoy!

Photo by Natasha Godard

Thanks Natasha! I am most definitely going to be grabbing the Blood Orange Gose for our dinner, along with that Lagunitas Pilsner. You can check out more of Natasha's beer (and food) wisdom over at her blog, MetaCookbook! And with both beer and Thanksgiving on the brain now, stay tuned for my next recipe, which involves both...

Natasha Godard is a food, beer, and science blogger at www.metacookbook. com who has a particular passion for pairing beer with food. A Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server for a few years now, she’s finally taken her Certified Cicerone® exam and is impatiently waiting for her results. She requests you cross your fingers for her, and that you tell her what you think of these beers here or on twitter (@metacookbook). She also maintains something of a travel blog at where she can advise you on travel coffee and hauling beer around.

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