Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner: What About Beer?

Okay, we're up to the first stop in the holiday season with Thanksgiving.  It's customary to have some wine at the table, but what about beer? 

Following conventional beer-food pairing wisdom, quadrupels, tripels, and dubbels would be the best way to go, and who could argue with having a Trappistes Rochefort 10, Unibroue La Fin du Monde, or Boulevard The Sixth Glass with any meal? If you've managed to save a few pumpkins ales for this occasion (good luck trying to find them now, which is even crazy to contemplate--what if you couldn't get a pumpkin pie right now?), they also make a good logical pairing.  Basically, as Garrett Oliver and Randy Mosher and others say, you'll want to match intensity with intensity.  Not overly spicy or bitter beers that are along the lines of something earthy and have a somewhat yeasty profile should work well considering traditional Thanksgiving fare; the aforementioned Belgian style beers and pumpkin ales might do the trick, along with pilsners and hefeweizens/wheat beers.  An IPA might not be the best choice, as hop bitterness will overwhelm the food flavor.

The beast is cooked.  Now choose a beer!

 An interesting thought I've been having is pairing stout with the turkey meal.  Say what?  I'm thinking that a bold imperial stout might be best saved for dessert, but something like an oatmeal stout, which can be rich and creamy but not as bold and spicy and full of dark chocolate and coffee flavors as an imperial.  Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout seems like a good one to try—creamy, mellow, smooth, yet quite flavorful.  I'm thinking, how could this not go with turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and the like?  A 550-ml (about 18.6 oz) bottle is relatively inexpensive and even enough to share with someone, depending upon how you view such a thing.

Anyway, remember that I'm an amateur at this, so you should do what you want to for beverages.  If you've got a beer that you truly want to crack open when you sit down for dinner Thursday, by all means go for it.  Or mix it up with something completely unexpected.  Hopefully, you can sit down with friends and family and share a meal (if not your beer) and give thanks, which is the most important thing.

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