Beer and Thanksgiving. The words conjure fond memories: an uncle asleep in the La-Z-Boy with a pile of cans on the end table; the Lions game on TV; a semi-interested crowd of family gathered around the set, making small talk. Tradition is great, but the days of discarded cans of Coors and sleepy football fans may be drawing nigh. Craft beer has earned its place on the table alongside everyone’s favorite dishes, and it has some history with the richly traditional holiday.
Despite the Puritan convictions of Pilgrim settlers, it is a somewhat-known fact that the Mayflower and her pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock as a result of a shortage of beer. In sea-faring days, beer was (and still is) a safe source of water, due to the fact that it is boiled in the brewing process, driving off microorganisms that can cause sickness, infection, and dreadful off-flavors in the finished beer. Many of the ship’s passengers became sick as the casks ran dry, and although this progression of illness was disconcerting, the decision to land, we’re told, took place when the death toll rose and the scurvy found its way into the captain’s crew.
Given beer’s presence on the Mayflower and its role as a potable water source in those early times, it’s safe to assume that it also had a place on that fabled first Thanksgiving table. In keeping with tradition, it’s time for beer to reclaim its place amongst the spread, enjoyed alongside our favorites, rather than reserving it solely for post-meal pounding.
The cornucopia of the Thanksgiving meal provides an exciting canvas for beer pairing, with a multitude of beer options matching the equally diverse selection of food items. With foods ranging from vegetables, roasted meats, heavy starch sides, and rich desserts, someone like this writer could just as easily fill a grocery cart with beer. With that in mind, here are some options for your Thanksgiving table, all of which are available at Beer Run.
Petrus Aged Pale
This one is a bit of a curveball, so it may seem a strange first pitch, but it’s a great fit for an across-the-table pairing. The curve is that it’s bracingly sour, but its bubbling acidity cuts through the fat and weight of Thanksgiving dishes so well that it could easily replace your dry sparkling wine or cider.
A dark, sweet Belgian ale, this one pairs best with the most unloved part of the table: dark meat. Try this raisiny, effervescent beer alongside a helping of the fattier turkey meat and consider yourself welcome to the darkside.
This refreshing white ale from Maine will do you a great service by providing a well-balanced and easy-drinking taste alongside a gut-busting spread. If you’re looking for a beer to carry you through the meal without getting in the way of flavor while contributing its own, this is for you.
Southern Tier Pumpking
Sometimes you want balance. Other times you want more pie with your pie. This supremely spiced, biscuity pumpkin ale will provide you with a great opportunity for the latter. Alternatives include Schlafly Pumpkin Ale and Dogfish Head Punkin’ Ale, if the shelves still have any.