Fresh Spin on Your Thanksgiving Menu
Tips from our friend and Brewers Association Executive Chef, Adam Dulye
Here we go again. It’s Holiday season. Didn’t that just happen you say? Yeah, the year went quick right? Alright then so you’re stuck with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, some form of green vegetable, cranberries and if you’re lucky some pre-turkey snacks that could maybe include salty cured meat, nuts, cheeses and things. And then on to the big finish. Pumpkin, pecan or apple pie.
All the major food sites, blogs, magazines and outlets have all come out with the must try recipes of the season. But really, let’s be honest. How many of us out there deviate from the damn good recipes or traditions we already have? Maybe a few. And cheers to you if you do. The only way to learn new things is to try new things. So for all of you out there here are our beer styles and why to try for this holiday season. Cooking a new recipe? Trust us you need a beer. Want to discover some new flavors in your traditional recipes, read on friend, read on.
Happy cooking & cheers.
Ok. Here we go. Let’s get this out of the way now. Do not give this to your friend, aunt or second cousin who is new to beer. Read on for the styles for that. This is for those who want to bring some life to your palate in a new way. Stay clear here. Hazy can work but it is heavier on the palate and you have some heavy food. So what does the IPA do? Use the hops to add some herbal and citrus notes to your turkey, want to brighten those green vegetables? Take a sip after a bite and you’ll ask why they changed the recipe. They didn’t, you just added some citrus to it. Got some heavy gravy mouth going on? Use the carbonation to scrub the palate and push the hops into a burst of aroma that refreshes you and lets you keep going.
Someone says Champagne. You bring Berliner Weisse. Light, bright, wake you up, cleanse the palate. Someone says fruit salad. While you want to say no. Bring a Berliner Weisse. Use the low alcohol here to ease your way into dinner, cleanse the palate and prepare to overeat. During dinner use the gentle tart notes to keep you going, add some brightness to cranberry and believe it or not moisten up that dry turkey (yeah you’re great at cooking but it’s a big bird. Some part of it will be dry.) This beer will bring anyone to the table and keep them there. Use it to start off and go or if you hit the slow middle think of this style as your digestif. A little bubbles, a little tart, refreshing and palate cleansing and you are back in the game.
Let’s change this up this year. For the traditionalists out there this is your go to for sweet potato, pecan pie, pumpkin pie and those crispy onions on top of a green vegetable (you know who you are). So let’s play off the fact that these are usually lower alcohol (think 5-7%max), have some great roasty and toasty notes and a good amount of carbonation to do some serious palate cleansing. So this year try the porter with the cranberry and see how it brings out a touch of earthiness, try it with the turkey (especially the skin), the roasted malt will add a new level of richness to the turkey. If your one of those that grill your turkey (first off- high five) second- oh yes to the Porter here. A little smoke flavor on the turkey and a porter and all your red wine loving friends and family will come over the dark side (and by dark we mean Porter).
Barrel Aged Stout
Big bottles, holidays, It. Is. On. Ok what to do here. Most times this easily floats to the end. Loosen the pants, cut the pie, pour the snifter. So here’s the thing- these are usually big. Now yeah we get it. Fireplace, big beers, barrel aged, fall asleep type things. So let’s bring this forward a bit and put it at the table. Barrel aged beer and sweet potatoes? Oh yeah. Let those rich flavors combine with the sweetness of the potato. Turkey say you? Barrel aged stout say us. Any big cabernet fans out there? Try this with your turkey and let that barrel aged flavor run right in there with the meat and you’ll think you cook your turkey in a barrel (don’t actually do that- bad idea). In all seriousness bring your big beers out early, warm up to room temperature and serve with the main event. Treat it like a big red wine and you are off to discover some new notes in the beer and the food. One of the best things about pairing a big beer like this style early on is that you’ll discover so much more than barrel aged flavors and dark malt.
This is a little harder to find but so so so worth it. The carbonation, the Belgian candy sugar, the gentle malt notes. This is Thanksgiving dinner. From start to finish if you have to have one beer this is it. Be a little careful here as this is usually a higher ABV player but oh the flavors. What to do. Turkey- it adds sweetness and cleanses the palate. Those green vegetables (particularly brussels sprouts)- lifts them up off the palate and can make even the most overcooked green vegetable taste bright and fresh. Need a little zip to your cranberry- take a sip here. Got a lot of butter on your palate from potatoes or stuffing (yes put butter in your stuffing)- take a sip and scrub that palate and while at it get some amazing notes of herbal delight from the beer. Dessert- apples and tripel. There is a balance there that just says I’ll take a second slice.
If you like Pinot Noir this is your jam. Both of these styles work in almost the same way- The Dubbel is little sweeter, a little more alcohol but they both do the same thing. Make everyone happy. This is a main event beer. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy- do it. What you are going to get here is some amazing tie ins for those of you who take that mixed bite. Oh come on we all have our combo- turkey and a little potato, potato and stuffing combo- the everything in a bite grab- yeah we all do it- don’t hide it. So bring a Dubbel or Brown Ale in and watch this magic happen on your palate. It adds to the roast in the turkey, breaks up the potato off the palate, elevates the stuffing to toasted bread amazingness, and deepens the fruit notes of the cranberry. Want a lighter finish to dessert- bring this out with pumpkin pie and all of a sudden pumpkin has a flavor other than cinnamon and nutmeg.
Wildly popular (no pun intended) and someone will bring one so what to do. First things first is to identify if it is a fruited sour or a wild ale. Got fruit then look to this to zip up your cranberry, liven up your stuffing and add some zip to your pecan pie. No fruit? Just some wild? Look to your turkey to bring out some incredible notes of funk and add some richness to the meat. This can be fun with crispy things on top of those green vegetables and will easily cleanse away any sausage fat in stuffing (for those of you that do the sausage in the stuffing). Bring this into dessert to wake up the palate a little hear. Apple pie is the natural choice for some lively palate cleansing fruit notes that almost rival the shot of vinegar at the end of dinner for a digestif. Go pumpkin or pecan and find yourself cleansing the palate a bit with the carbonation and bringing forward the cinnamon and holiday spice flavors.
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