No holiday on the calendar is more of a testament to the American identity than Thanksgiving. While historians debate the true origins of the holiday, the rest of us gather with loved ones, consume massive quantities of comfort food and sack out on the couch to watch football. What could be more American than that?
Since Thanksgiving is basically our only holiday that revolves around food, you shouldn’t settle for mediocrity when picking the perfect beer to accompany each course. To help you with your choices, we asked a few luminaries in the craft beer world to tell us, in their own words, what they’ll be drinking on Turkey Day.
Keep in mind; we didn’t place any restrictions on choices, so some people picked their own beers, which is perfectly fine. For some of these people their beers are almost members of the family, and you wouldn’t want to keep a member of the family away from the dinner table…except for Uncle Elmer—nobody wants to talk to him. With that being said, take these suggestions to heart, and you’ll be assured of a very happy Thanksgiving.
Title: Founder – Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Paste:Sierra Nevada stands among the giants of the craft beer community. Many people consider Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to be the epitome of the style. It stands to reason that Grossman’s pick for the perfect Thanksgiving beer falls on the hoppier side of things.
Celebration IPA is my go-to beer on Thanksgiving. We’ve brewed it for decades now, and it always proves to be really versatile, pairing well with turkey and all the fixings.
Title: Founder – Dogfish Head Brewing Company
Calagione:We do thanksgiving each year in Delaware at [my wife] Mariah’s family farm. I always love Saison Du Pont with my turkey. We keep 60 Minute IPA on hand, and I like pairing that with the first course of salad.
A bunch of our aunts always bake pies for dessert and I like to pair something strong and vintage aged to bring forward sherry and pit fruit notes. Our Olde School Barley Wine served in a snifter or red wine glass with a fresh baked piece of pie is a great way to end a holiday meal.
Title: Founder – Boston Beer Company
Koch: In our family, no holiday is complete without my favorite brew, Samuel Adams Boston Lager. It is the perfect example of a fundamentally great beer—rich, complex and full in flavor, while remaining perfectly balanced. The floral, piney and citrus notes lent by the Noble hop varieties in Boston Lager are balanced by a strong malt backbone, making this a perfect brew to pair with almost any food. It goes great with roasted turkey, in particular, and what better way to celebrate Boston Lager’s 30th birthday than by toasting with it on one of America’s favorite holidays!
Samuel Adams Winter Lager, a spiced wheat bock brewed with fresh ground cinnamon, ginger and orange peel, is another great pairing for any Thanksgiving feast. I’ve found that rich, hearty and roasty character also goes well with apple pie and carrot cake.
For dessert, we’ll enjoy Samuel Adams Tetravis from our Barrel Room Collection. Tetravis is our bold take on a traditional Belgian Quad, bursting with flavors of sweet molasses and dark fruits like raisins and figs. This brew is also a great pairing for traditional Thanksgiving spiced cakes and pies.
Title: Founder, President and CEO – Avery Brewing Company
Avery: I’m sure our IPA, Pump[KY]n and Hog Heaven will be on the table for Thanksgiving along with a couple of beers I’ve saved from travels including Schlafly’s Pumpkin, Lost Abbey’s Track 8 and Consecration. I have a bad feeling that I’ll be having an Avery Black Eye with my second piece of pumpkin pie at the end of a loooong drinking day. So goes the life of a brewer! As a bonus, we’re having the families over to our house so no driving for me!
Title: Co-Founder – Firestone Walker Brewing Company
Paste: Adam Firestone breaks his Thanksgiving beer drinking into two different categories. First he suggests a session beer for the afternoon because “turkeys take forever to cook.”
Firestone: Theirs: Adnams Ghost Ship – I had it a few nights ago in a pub in Richmond, Surrey. Amused to see they are using citra hops in it, and it was well expressed in the glass.
Ours: Easy Jack – our sessionable IPA with our own mélange of hops (mandarina, mosaic and a New Zealand blend).
Paste: Then when the lights dim and the fire roars, Firestone likes his beer to fall on the dark side.
Firestone:Theirs: Cigar City Hunahpu’s Day because that’s the only cigar Kate allows in the house.
Ours: Parabola. It’s the obvious go-to to promote digestion and compete with the tryptophan.
Title: Co-Owner/President – Russian River Brewing Company
Paste: Few American breweries inspire as much devotion as Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo’s Russian River Brewing Company. The annual release of Pliny the Younger, their Triple IPA, inspires people to stand in line for hours, sometimes in the pouring rain, for the opportunity to snag a glass. Their beer styles are a tribute to West Coast hops and Belgian funk, and Natalie Cilurzo’s Thanksgiving recommendations reflect that attitude.
Allagash White is a great way to start when putting turkey in the oven first thing in the morning.
Russian River STS Pils is very bright and crisp, and would pair well with seafood dishes and salad courses.
Cantillon Geuze—It’s not an overly sour geuze so it would not stomp on any dishes, and it’s always excellent with cheese. Lovely way to start a big meal!
I like Porters at Thanksgiving, too. Not one in particular. For whatever reason I think they go well with gravy and stuffing!
For dessert, maybe something like Russian River Salvation. It’s a strong, dark beer with fruity and malty notes.
For a night cap, I go with Orval. Always.
Title: Brewmaster – Allagash Brewing Company
Sierra Nevada Celebration – This beer comes out in the fall every year, and I eagerly await it each year. It is one of my favorite all-time beers and everything about it says the holidays to me. The huge hop nose and perfectly balanced sweetness make it the perfect beer to start the afternoon. ?
Allagash Interlude – In my (biased) opinion, this is the best Thanksgiving beer. Tropical fruit and apricot notes meld well with classic Thanksgiving flavors. The slightly tart finish has very little residual sugar, which works well as you are stuffing your belly during the main course
Russian River Temptation – It’s time for dessert, and you’re stuffed but you still want to consume. Before you dig into pie, a glass of the perfectly tart, yet dry Temptation will act like sorbet and get you ready for more calories. ?
Dieu Du Ciel Peche Mortel – You are fully stuffed and the tryptophan is kicking in, but football is still on. Peche Mortel is a delicious rich, roasted, chocolatey beer that also happens to have Coffee. It’s the perfect way to end the evening.
Title: Founder – The Bruery
Rue: Given the range of flavors at the Thanksgiving table, it’s important to pick a beer that will pair with a lot of different flavors. I’d suggest a beer with a biscuity malt backbone and a dry, spicy finish. In keeping with American beer for Thanksgiving, I’d suggest Lost Abbey Avant Garde for the spicy herbal qualities that will pair well with turkey. Modern Times Blazing World has a potent citrus aroma that pairs well with stuffing and cranberry sauce. While I’m not a great self-promoter, I’ll plug The Bruery’s Saison Rue as well, due to its fruity, lightly funky, bracingly dry, effervescent quality that still retains a hint of maltiness. It pairs well with almost anything.
Title: Co-Founder and CEO – New Belgium Brewing Company
Jordan: I have to have Sierra Nevada Celebration around. The holiday season is not complete without tasting each year’s version.
I also have Allagash Coolship Resurgan, which would be wonderful maybe with a nice soft cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. It makes me think of their coolship in that beautiful, nearly-monastic room.
Our Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout would cause us to ask “who needs another dessert?”
As a great beer to have around for day time drinking, I’d have New Belgium Ranger, because it’s bright and refreshing.
Title: Co-Founder, Vice-President of Brand & Education – Founders Brewing Company
Engbers: Right now, around our house, the Thanksgiving celebration is an all-day event. The tradition starts early in the morning when you put the bird in the oven and you start getting the house prepared for family, friends and relatives. With that in mind, we suggest All Day IPA during the day.
We also produce a beer called Backwoods Bastard, which is a big malt bomb that’s aged in bourbon barrels. It has a lot of vanilla notes and oak flavors, but it’s extremely smooth. It’s the perfect beer to wind down a full day of eating and debauchery.