When sitting down to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, leave the cork in that “oaky” Chardonnay and that “spicy” Shiraz bottle too. Instead, grab for something that our forefathers drank at their first Thanksgiving…BEER. Craft beer actually. There were no breweries producing 2 million barrels a year back then, therefore all beer was craft brewed.
Historians agree that beer was the drink of choice at the first Thanksgiving. With barley crops for malt, beer was the obvious choice for a harvest celebration. In fact, thanks to beer, or the lack there of, Pilgrims aiming for Virginia on their voyage from England mistakenly hit Plymouth off the coast of Cape Cod. With rations running low, including beer, the decision was made to stay in Plymouth versus continuing on to Virginia. And the rest really is history.
Today, with the craft beer revolution upon us, choosing a craft beer to pair well with your Thanksgiving day feast is a problem the Pilgrims wish they had in 1620.
Here are a few suggestions, or feel free to “craft” your own pairings.
- First things first. Appetizers. Keep it clean, crisp and light (not light as in low calorie, no flavor beer). You don’t want to get filled up or mask the flavors of your appetizers with a heavy ale. Try a lager or Pilsner. A Sam Adams Boston Lager, Blue Point Toasted Lager or Prima Pils from Victory will get your taste buds going in the right direction.
- Then there is the star of the Thanksgiving table. Turkey. With its crispy, golden, buttery brown exterior, its juicy succulent meat and no holds barred side dishes, you’ll need a bold beer capable of handling double duty. These beers need to stand up to and cut through the rich and flavorful feast before you. Some craft brews that are up for this challenge are Goose Islands Pere Jacques Belgian Style Ale, Brooklyn Brown Ale, Smuttynose Winter Ale or Red Hook ESB.
- Dessert. You can go a couple of ways with dessert. Cheesecake with a Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout is great. Are you a chocoholic? Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout compliments anything chocolate. Fruit beers are more prevalent than ever. Try a Dogfish Punkin Ale with pumpkin pie or a Captain Lawrence Golden Delicious with Mom’s apple pie.
Have fun this Thanksgiving, with your family, your friends and your beer.