Turkey Day is one week away, people. Get pumped! Originally meant to celebrate the blessing of a prosperous fall harvest, today it has become a reason to gather with loved ones and overindulge on food and drink. Any celebration such as this calls for “the good stuff.” You’ve likely premeditated the bird preparation, complementary sides, and family logistics, but have you brainstormed your beer selections? … The time is now!
Let’s be real, you’re not going to find one beer that cuddles up to everything on your plate, but you have a plethora of options that will come close. There’s no need to approach the search as a labyrinthine quandary. The key to pairing success lies within the method that your dinner is cooked. The highlight reel of most Thanksgiving feasts features dishes that gain caramelized, browned flavors in the oven from a non-enzymatic browning process called the Maillard reaction. Think golden-brown turkey skin and browned pie crust. Just as this chemical reaction occurs in cooking, so does it express itself in the kilning of barley malt. Beers that feature caramelized, toasted, and roasted malt flavors have a natural affinity for the food found on the Thanksgiving dinner table. Keep this in mind when making your selections, and when in doubt, go Belgian! Check out some of our Turkey Day favorites below:
Summit Unchained #26: Westie 7th Belgian-Style Dark Ale – $9.99/6pk
Paying homage Summit’s surrounding neighborhood, Westie 7th is brewed with Belgian dark candi syrup and finished with Trappist-Ale yeast, offering notes of dark cherry, caramel, molasses, raisin, and rum. Belgian-style beers have an affinity for food, and Westie 7th is no exception, it will make for a wonderful evening-long companion.
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen – $3.49/16.9oz or $9.99/4pk
For those of you who prefer brews with a more quaffable disposition, Ayinger’s Fest-Märzen makes for a great pal. Golden-hued and starry-eyed, this brew has malty aromatics and layered caramelized notes that will embrace all your Thanksgiving favorites.
Modist False Pattern Pale Ale – $12.49/4pk
Our friends at Modist Brewing in the North Loop are evolving the possibilities of craft beer. Equipped with a special apparatus called a mash filter, which substitutes the lauter tun, Modist is able to brew unconventional beers that feature varied grain bills. Brewing beers that are not barley malt-dominant can cause wort run-off challenges in most conventional brew houses. False Pattern is an oat-based pale brewed with a juicy Mosaic/Centennial hop blend. Tropical pineapple and peach notes dance atop a subtle maltiness with hints of toasted granola and honey. Pillowy soft carbonation ensures that this pale won’t dominate the food on your plate.
New Belgium Honey Orange Tripel – $12.99/6pk
Fair-trade wild African honey and Seville orange peel coalesce in New Belgium’s newest release. Yeasty aromas of lemon, vanilla and black pepper. Racy effervescence gives this Tripel a palate-cleansing quality. A warming finish is the only indication of its 10% abv, so be careful. Save this one for the bird!
Sociable Cider Werks Rusty Chain Cranberry Apple Cider – $9.99/4pk
A bone-dry ferment of Midwestern apples is introduced to freshly pressed Wisconsin cranberries, adding a layer of sweetness in this juicy, puckering cider. This session-friendly tallboy is a no-brainer Thanksgiving pairing.
Steel Toe Wee Heavy – $9.99/750ml
A sturdy Scotch ale brewed with heaping quantities of UK malt. Thick malty sweetness with impressions of brown sugar, graham cracker, molasses, toasted biscuit and toffee. This gold-medal winning brew will make for an excellent closer with your Thursday meal.
Lift Bridge Commander Barleywine – $16.99/22oz
This tall drink of Barleywine speaks with a dreamy British accent. Aged extensively in bourbon barrels, Commander is a leviathan English-style Barleywine that swings with brawling malty fists and caresses with sweet, cardamom-laden undertones. Have this bourbon barrel-aged brute with your pies and desserts.
North Coast Barrel-Aged Rasputin XX – $22.99/500ml
A truly formidable yet sophisticated barrel-aged Imperial Stout. Ol’ Raspy’ in its un-aged state is chewy, bitter, and full of roasty, charred coffee and chocolate flavors. Bourbon barrels add a layer of sweet vanilla and coconut, adding great depth to this already wonderful stout. Pair the XX with cookies and chocolate-y desserts.