At its core, beer should be worry-free, a liquid accompaniment to whatever fun you happen to be having. Holidays are a different story: regimented, fussed over, full of relatives, which is why serving any kind of beer around your Thanksgiving meal is a good idea. While there’s no need to stress over it, we reached out to experts for some Thanksgiving beer advice that will come in handy whether you’re hosting or visiting.
Do: “If you’re the one cooking the turkey, we’d go with a lighter option to get through the waiting hours, like a session beer — Notch Left of the Dial or Castle Island Candlepin are both great options.’’ — Ian Chester, Portico Brewing Co.
Don’t: “In my family it’s usually a fairly long day, so l I like to stay away from anything that is higher in alcohol until the dishes are put away. And I would avoid aggressively hopped beers, as it’s easy to blow out your palate early on and it can make it harder to appreciate both beer and food.’’ — Steve Sanderson, Riverwalk
Do: “My advice is simple: Drink Allagash Interlude! The combo of the dryness, slight acidity, and fruity esters make it the perfect pair with the classic Thanksgiving meal. It is delicate enough to pair with a variety of courses, yet robust enough to stand up to the richer dishes. It also can appeal to folks who normally drink wine at this holiday.’’ — Jason Perkins, Allagash Brewing Co.
Do: “In general I like Belgian-style ales, with saisons working extremely well. The dry, spicy character and carbonation provide a nice counterpoint to rich food and help to scrub the palate. Once everyone is stuffed it can be a great time to break out the barleywine or something barrel-aged that we can sit and sip.’’ — Sanderson
Do: “Thanksgiving dinner typically has a lot going on flavor-wise, and you’ll need a beer that can stand up to a feast. We’d stress balance — something malt-forward with a dry hoppy bite — Mayflower Porter has roasty, chocolatey qualities that should pair well. The autumn spices in Chroma, our Amber Ale, would also be a strong counter to a plate full of turkey, mashed potatoes. and cranberry sauce.’’ — Chester
Don’t: “While we’d never advocate avoiding any beer, we’d be less inclined to indulge in a double or imperial IPA. After all, Thanksgiving is about the food and family so you don’t want to overwhelm the palate — or pass out before dinner.’’ — Chester
Do: “In addition to attempting to match the flavors of the meal with the beer, I also default to going with my favorite beer. Sure, I spend a lot of time thinking about pairing beer and food for dinners and events, but when it comes to a holiday with my family, I mainly just want to enjoy beer I love with food I love.’’ — Jeremy Danner, Boulevard Brewing Co.