People might talk to you about wine at Thanksgiving, and that’s fine if you like wine, but it’s really the perfect holiday for beer. There is no gift exchange. You’re probably filling your stomach with plenty of alcohol-soaking food. It’s an all day holiday but besides dinner you really have no obligations but to sit around and chat…..and drink.
So why not beer? Even leaving aside the ways certain beers can pair better with all that rich and heavy food, most of your drinking probably isn’t happening at dinner. So open up a big bottle you’ve been saving, maybe even something someone gave you during the holiday season last year. Have an unofficial bottle share. Introduce family members that aren’t usually beer drinkers to some of the different flavors some of these beers bring.
Thanksgiving may be dressed up as a fancy dinner in some respects, but it’s not, nor has it ever been. It’s a working man’s celebration that there is enough food to last the winter. To celebrate the harvest being in, the land being plentiful, to be thankful of those that help us survive and thrive. The classic dishes aren’t fancy dishes out of a fancy restaurant, even in the age of farm to table. They’re simple, classic dishes. Meat, potatoes, veggies. This isn’t a 10 course dining experience; most of the time you’re chatting, and munching, and watching sports. So beer. Beer fits perfectly. Or cider. A crisp apple cider goes really well with a lot of these dishes, but let’s talk about the beer.
You’re going to start early, you’re going to have a big meal in the middle, long before you even entertain driving. You can have a few, or a big, beer. Open up that 10-14% bomber of stout that you’d never find a time to drink on your own. Share it. Bring out those pumpkin beers you bought but didn’t love, I bet you’ll find a lot of people interested in trying some of that. Did you score a bottle of some fancy limited release bourbon barrel aged concoction? Did you pick up a six-pack of less rare, but still delicious, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout? Did someone bring something you’ve never heard of but thought you’d like because you’re into beer? Open them! Drink them! Share them! Most of the guests are there with nothing to do but drink, chat, and eat. It’s basically a bottle share with a big meal at the end.
My Thanksgiving is going to be low-key this year, I’m eating out at a German restaurant, which probably means Oktoberfest with dinner. On Saturday I’m having some friends over, and that’s when I’ll break out the Thanksgiving beer. The Alementary makes a delicious English Ale aged in rum barrels called Figgy Pudding that I have a bottle of from each of their now three years of making it. I’m excited to do a vertical tasting of this. After that I plan to open a bomber of Brooklyn Brewery’s Tripel Burner, a Licorice-spiced tripel aged in white wine barrels, that comes in at 10.6% ABV.