Thanksgiving Day often involves relaxation and social time with family and friends, some football on TV, and the anticipation of a big evening dinner. Thus, different beer styles will nicely suit the multiple courses of the evening and keep the taste buds tantalized!
Before dinner: Terrific pre-dinner beers offer clean crispness and plenty of flavors to a fresh palate, with moderate alcohol that won’t overpower the senses. Abita Amber Lager is an easy-drinking Vienna-style lager that’s golden caramel in color with a toasted, bready malt character nicely balanced by mild hop bitterness. For more hop-forward character, Victory Prima Pils is a straw golden colored German Pilsner-style beer with heaps of hops imparting an herbal bite over layers of soft and smooth malt flavor. These pre-dinner lagers slake your thirst and keep the palate clean while prepping it for the food to come.
With dinner: Thanksgiving in my family has always included a traditional turkey dinner with popular trimmings such as stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, potatoes, squash and a green vegetable. Several beer styles with autumn-like colors can pair nicely. Bell’s Amber Ale and Scuttlebutt Amber Ale are orange-amber in color and won’t overpower the food with a mild floral, fruity hop character that’s well balanced by sweet malt undertones. With brown gravy and/or the darker meat of the turkey, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale-style beer can complement nicely. Adriaen Brouwer Dark Gold Ale pours deep burgundy in color and offers sweet, bready caramel malts, dark fruit and mild roast character delivering flavorful complexity with an engaging vinous essence. This style is stronger in alcohol; the Adriaen Brouwer is 8.5% ABV.
With dessert: The trend toward increasingly darker beer colors with each course of the day can carry through dessert. Thinking apple, pecan and pumpkin pie here, perhaps with vanilla or chocolate ice cream, both the Schwarzbier and Stout styles come to mind. A Schwarzbier (“black beer”) is a dark lager style originally from Germany that is moderate in alcohol and, as its namesake implies, is a clear dark brown, almost black color. But motor oil it is not. Examples including Samuel Adams Black Lager, and Xingu Black from Brazil, are relatively light-bodied dark beers on a base of pilsner malt in which the dark hue is derived from additional, specialty malts. Decidedly malty in aroma and flavor character with little hop influence, this style evokes caramel and chocolate notes with a very subtle undertone of roasty bittersweetness. It’s smooth and highly drinkable. Alternatively, Stout will generally provide more body and higher alcohol. Pike XXXXX Extra Stout, at 7% ABV, is virtually jet black in color with an espresso-cream tan head. Fresh roast coffee aromas with notes of bitter sweet chocolate and hops deliver a rich and complex character of roasted flavors, caramel, licorice, and hints of vanilla and oak to complement and balance the sweetness of the dessert.