Thanksgiving dinner beer pairings

5 mins read

With Thanksgiving next week, many Americans will be hitting the supermarkets this weekend to stock up in preparation for the national day of gluttony. While you’re out, don’t forget to pick up some appropriate brews for the day.

So what beer is appropriate? As we’ve said before, beer pairings are more art than science. The brews you choose should compliment the food with either a contrasting or similar flavor profile. The exception is dessert which should almost always be paired with a sweet beer. If you’re not sure about the flavor profile of a particular beer, start with this beer pairing chart, read the label, visit the brewer’s website, or just Google the beer.

Here are some recommendations from the Dallas Morning News:

As guests arrive, hand them something crisp and cold, light as air. They sip and whet their appetites, but don’t fill up. The world’s lagers are made for this.
•Stiegl Goldbrau Premium Lager, Stieglbrewery, Salzburg, Austria, alcohol not listed: bright golden color, big, creamy head, light flavors of malt and hops; $3.19 per 1-pint- 9-ounce bottle.

Hors d’oeuvres
As you pass around the canapes, you give your guests pale ales, somewhat fuller in body, hoppier, able to deal with shrimp with sauce, cheese balls and the like.
•Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, California, 5.6 percent alcohol: amber in color, full-bodied, malty, hoppy, spicy; $1.60 per 12-ounce bottle.
•Lagunitas Maximus India Pale Ale, California, 7.5 percent alcohol: deep amber, brutally hoppy, with flavors of pine and citrus; $3.99 per 1 pint, 6-ounce bottle.

For the full, complex, fatty flavors of an all-out Thanksgiving main course, you want a muscular beer, with the hops and alcohol to cut through. The category called Belgian-style strong ales works here.
•Collaboration Not Litigation Ale, Colorado, 8.99 percent alcohol: dark brown color, sturdy beige head, starts fruity, then the powerful alcohol kicks in. It’ll handle Cajun turkey, even red meat; $8.49 per 1-pint, 6-ounce bottle.
•Ommegang Brewery Rare Vos Belgian-Style Amber Ale, Cooperstown, N.Y., 6.5 percent alcohol: coppery color, fruity, spicy, muscular, flavors of burnt sugar; $5.79 per 1-pint, 9.4-ounce bottle.

With beer, as with wine, the drink should be sweeter than the dessert. The following will handle pecan or pumpkin pies.
•Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, Delaware, 7 percent alcohol: a full-bodied brown ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg, it tastes like all of them; $10.49 per 4-pack.
•Rogue Chocolate Stout, Ore., 7 per cent alcohol: Yes, they add real imported chocolate to the brew, plus oats and hops, and it tastes like all of its ingredients, with the smooth power of alcohol and a bittersweet finish; $5.79 per 1-pint, 6-ounce bottle.

When you mellow out after the meal, watching the game, you need something big, rich, soft and sweet to settle your stomach.
•Dogfish Head Raison d’Extra Ale, Delaware, 18 percent alcohol a big, brown ale brewed with of malt, brown sugar and raisins; $6.25 per 12-ounce bottle.
•Great Divide Brewing Old Ruffian Barleywine-Style Ale, Colorado, 10.2 percent alcohol: smooth, sweet fruit and caramel flavors give way to powerful hops; $5.29 per 1 pint, 6 ounce bottle.

Obviously, the specific beers are the recommendations of the writer and you shouldn’t limit yourself to just those choices. In fact, I would recommend that you try to find some local or regional beer to accompany the feast. If, for some reason you are limited to to beer sold nationally, here are some additional ideas:

Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager
Most pilsners

Hors d’oeuvres
Flying Dog Tire Bite or Doggie Style
Deschutes Jubelale

Oktoberfest beers
Sierra Nevada Stout
Brown ales

Flying Dog Kerberos (a dessert in and of itself, yum!)
New Belgium Abby
Samuel Adams Cream Stout
Pumpkin beers

British (not American) barley wines
Belgian style dubbels and tripples
Scotch ales

If you’re feeling lost, don’t fret. Good beer always goes with good food so you really can’t go wrong.


  1. This is great stuff!!! I will definitely use this as a guideline to my thanskgiving purchses!!!! Thanks Chris!

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