Crafted for Thanksgiving
A range of flavors to match holiday fare
Holiday brew: Forget the wine. Instead, bring beer. After all, there's no better beverage for pairing with food — wine included. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
Don't believe me? Consider:
The bubbles: Quite literally, beer's carbonation scrubs the palate to give taste buds a break when indulging in rich, intensely flavored foods.
The bitterness: Beer's bitterness can balance creamy or rich foods.
The variety: Food and drink pairings work well when they share common threads, be they flavors or aromas. With the nearly limitless array of beers of all strengths and flavors you have endless possibilities to match the foods of Thanksgiving.
But not every beer works with every food. And, to complicate things, there aren't simple rules that you can follow, like drink white wine when eating fish. Instead, you have to consider the flavors and aromas of both the food you're eating and beer you're drinking.
To help, we reached out to two experts, Randy Mosher, creative director of 5 Rabbit Cerveceria and author of "Tasting Beer," and Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery brew master and editor of "The Oxford Companion to Beer," to find out what they're planning to drink this Thanksgiving.
Westmalle Tripel: "Thanksgiving is an enormous meal, with many different kinds of food on people's plates," says Mosher. "You want something that won't get lost in the shuffle but won't stomp over everything." Westmalle, a pale orange beer, with a biscuit and lemon-tinged aroma and an elegant, complex flavor with notes of honey, hay and apricots fits the boat.
Two Brothers Domaine DuPage: French bieres de garde are amber with soft caramelized flavors that complement the turkey's browned skin and gravy, says Oliver. Try Domaine DuPage with its notes of biscuits, caramel and candied fruit.
Brooklyn Brewery Local 2: Oliver will take his own brewery's beer to Thanksgiving dinner, which like most traditional tables is filled with foods that have earthy, nutty and caramelized flavors. A dark abbey ale with brown sugar, raisin and dried fruit flavors, Local 2 works with everything from sweet potatoes to Brussels sprouts, he says. "It tastes slightly sweet, but it's actually very dry and pretty strong at 9 percent (alcohol)," he says.
Founders Red's Rye P.A.: When it comes to dessert, "bring it on," says Mosher. Try a rye-based pale ale like Red's Rye that has burnt sugar notes, similar to those in a dessert like pecan pie. The bitter hops help cut through the pie's sweetness.
Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout: "This style was originally brewed just for Catherine the Great, so you know it's luxurious," says Oliver. "These are strong dark beers made with plenty of roasted malts, giving them flavors reminiscent of dark chocolate and coffee. They're great with pumpkin pies, cakes and tarts, and particularly good with ice cream." For Oliver, an exemplar of the style is the pitch-black Samuel Smith's with its notes of coffee, chocolate, prunes and raisins.