Tomorrow’s the big day. For some of us, like me, it’s a day of cooking all day and trying to get a feast on the table for everyone. It can be fun and it can be tiring, but if you can pull it off, it’s quite a feeling. But for everyone else it’s one of the best holidays of the year. I mean how can you go wrong with football, turkey, family and of course beer?
Oh sure you could go to the old stand-by and have wine with your turkey dinner. But why not give your old buddy beer a shot? It’s been your friend for a long, long time so doesn’t it deserve a place during your holiday festivities?
But you may be asking, “What beer goes with turkey?” I’ll default to Garrett Oliver for the answer to that:
“Biere de garde is brilliant with turkey. And not just with with turkey – it is also brilliant with the turnips, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the potatoes, the whole darned thing. Biere de garde is the Thansgiving beer. My sommelier friends rack their brains every year, trying to answer the constant nagging question everyone asks them – what wine is good with turkey? The answer, or course, is not wine but beer.”
Orval – This would be a perfect beer to serve pre-dinner. It’s a refreshingly bitter and herbal beer that helps to cleanse the palate between different appetizers. One of my favorite beers of all time.
Any Saison – Saison just may be the most versatile beer style and would be a great choice to match the dizzying array of sides your mom might be serving this year. A complex mixture of spices and herb flavors combine with a sharp bitterness to make this beer stand out with any dish. Saison Dupont is the classic example of this style and is widely available. The Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale is a great choice from the new-to-Seattle brewery.
Any Biere de Garde – These complex beers are perfect complitments to dishes with strong herbal components (such as stuffing) and help to refresh the pallet. Sadly, I don’t have much experience with this style. I’m going to head to a local bottle shop tomorrow and ask them to suggest something. The Jolly Pumpkin Biere de Mars is fantastic, but I am not sure that is in stores at the moment.
Elysian The Wise ESB – If you’re looking for a more hop-forward beer for dinner, this would be a good option. There is enough sweet malt to go along with the roasted flavors of the turkey. I had this last year and was happy with the pairing.
North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout – This would be a fantastic choice to pair with dessert, especially pumpkin pie. It has lots of roasted malt with a dry, smooth finish.
If you’re looking for something a bit more unusual or festive, I’ll throw out a few suggestions as well. If you’re looking for something fruity, may I suggest a cranberry beer? Unibroue (one of my all time favorite breweries) makes a cranberry beer called Éphémère (Cranberry.) You can also find a cranberry lambic (though it’s a pretty loose use of the word lambic) in the Samuel Adams Holiday Pack.
Or maybe you just don’t have any more room for dessert. Instead of a piece of pumpkin pie, why not that pumpkin beer that you’re still holding onto? Even after a big holiday meal, there’s always room for beer. Maybe you’ll be lucky and you’ll find some Schlafly or O’Fallon Pumpkin beer at your local grocery store.
Also, don’t be afraid to use some beer in your recipes as well. A Belgian dark strong would be absolutely fantastic in your turkey gravy. Where a recipe calls for wine, maybe give beer a shot instead. Plus, it’s always fun to have a little beer while you’re cooking dinner.
Whatever you decide to do for the holiday, make sure you have a great time and be sure to stay safe.