Thanksgiving Beer Pairings, Part II: We still be all classy ‘n s$%t

It’s that time of year again: Awkward encounters with relatives you haven’t seen all year (for good reason), and spatchcocking your turkey. Of course, what you do with your turkey in the privacy of your own home is none of my business. But it’s not like awkward Thanksgivings are new.

Clearly, the first Thanksgiving wasn’t pleasant. First of all, after the brutal winter, there were only 4 Pilgrim chicks left to cook for like 140 people (who presumably got drunk and watched the Lions game instead of helping).

Second, eating over at the Pilgrims’ place was likely a bigger health crap-shoot than eating at the Moloka’i Jack in the Box. It’s well-documented that Pilgrims were so unsanitary that they smelled like the inside of a sweaty Wookie’s butthole. Further, the Pilgrims’ smallpoxy, plaguey, leptospirosisy explorer predecessors managed to wipe out 90 percent of the American Indian population with disease before the uptight, buckle-head Pilgrims even set foot on Plymouth Rock. So, undercooked meat and food-borne illness might have been the least of the problems.

Evidence suggests that American Indians phased-out handshake greetings in the early 17th century.

So, count your blessings and brighten your day with some solid beer choices. I had a comprehensive post last year that took into account many different food factors. You can reference it here. This year, however, I am keeping it simple and sharing the selections I am self-medicating with for Thanksgiving.

Saison Dupont – This is a Thanksgiving no-brainer. It’s earthy, crisp, grassy, slightly spicy, and ever-so-slightly reminiscent of a barn. It’s bubbly enough to cleanse your palate from the onslaught of the richest and biggest of Thanksgiving foods, and it finishes clean…instead of attention whoring it up and trying to upstage the food.

Stillwater Cellar Door – Another Saison/Farmhouse, but this one is a little more assertive. It’s got Sterling and Citra hops, which bring some spice and citrus character to the game. It has the always complex but subtle Stillwater farmhouse yeast character. And for the kicker: It’s brewed with white sage. This should go well with Thanksgiving dinner, because sage goes well with Thanksgiving dinner. (Note: If there is no sage in your feast, then you’re a communist. And nobody likes a communist. So, if nothing else, this beer will redeem you.)

Dogfish Head Bitches Brew – This is for dessert. It’s 2/3 imperial stout, plus 1/3 honey beer brewed with gesho root, which equals: Who the hell knows, but it’s 3/3 good. It’s got bittersweet chocolate, roast, coffee, and even more complexity as it warms up. It starts out sweet, but it is pretty well-carbonated and roasty, so it finishes almost dry. Which is good, because at this point in the program, the top button of my pants is undone, and I want something sweet but not huge and oppressive…otherwise I would have to take my pants off completely. And that’s not good.

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Thanksgiving Lineup: money where my mouth is.

Here is the beerbecue Thanksgiving starting lineup:

We stuck to the Thanksgiving-friendly styles, and branched-out to two beers we hadn’t quaffed before.  They are as follows:

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde; St. Feuillien Saison (first-time); Schlafly Biere De Garde (first-time, although the Haybag swears we have had it); Oskar Blues Old Chub; and the Haybag went all rogue for dessert with Dogfish Head Bitches Brew (3 parts imperial stout and 1 part honey beer with gesho root) for dessert.

What’s your Turkey Day lineup (beer, wine, shots, straight from the bottle)?

Subsequent Editor’s Note: Don’t drink Schlafly Biere de Garde with Thanksgiving dinner.  I loved it on its own, but with Thanksgiving food it turned evil.  Stick to their pairing suggestions on the bottle (fruit, cheese, cured meats).

Thanksgiving Beer Pairings: We be all classy ‘n s$%t

As I mentioned, dangermenparenting sent out the bat signal to beerbecue to come up with some good beers for Thanksgiving. That’s right…I said beer for Thanksgiving. What? Do you think Pilgrims and Indians had a bunch of Chateau Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux at the first Thanksgiving? That’s not what I learned in grade school. They had beer, dammit….and this:I received several suggestions from friends on past successes. I will try to give credit to them where possible. So, here we go..

We need something that can hang with heartiness, but not overpower earthy comfort. So for Thanksgiving, beerbecue says: screw the hop bombs for one day out of the year, and go with earthy, sweet, lightly spicy or fruity, or a combination thereof. There are several beers that can fit this bill, and I will throw a couple variations for turkey prep differences, and some dessert selections.

Pretty safe, but very tasty: Latch on to the sweet, earthy, and caramel with a Dogfish Head Indian Brown, a Brooklyn Brown, or, as Tom suggested, a good German Marzen. Or even go a little darker with New Belgium’s 1554 Enlightened Black Ale.

A little more adventurous: Belgian Tripels. These little beauties have a light to moderate sweetness, some fruit (like apple, banana, pear, or oranges), earthiness, and sometimes a slight peppery, clovey, or spicey flavor from the Belgian yeast. The carbonation does a good job of clearing the palate, but the high carbonation can turn some off…like the Haybag. Also, they usually manage to mask their high ABV, even though they aren’t correspondingly heavy. And we all know high ABV can help in dealing with in-laws.

Try any of the following tripels: Allagash (a suggestion from Tony (not the DMP Tony) in the comments to the previous post); Unibroue La Fin Du Monde; Westmalle, St. Bernardus, or even New Belgium’s Trippel, which is now pretty easy to find in the DC-area. Also, some sweeter variations include Gouden Carolus, Weyerbacher Merry Monks, and Green Flash Trippel.

Perhaps even more adventurous: Although typically a Spring and Summer beer, the Saison/Farmhouse style would work. These will be dry, earthy, spicy, crisp, and light-bodied. You can try Saison Dupont (see the poetic description from Tony on Beer Advocate that says its all). Or I can also vouch for Ommegang’s Hennepin. The Dupont has a passing, but typical, barn funk (wet earth and hay), that is worth giving a shot. The Hennepin, on the other hand, lacks da funk.

What funk? I don

Smoked turkey curveball: I think the above suggestions work for roasted or fried turkey. But for smoked turkey (like the beerbecue residence) you might could go for something to stand-up to and compliment the smoke, like Founder’s Dirty Bastard or Oskar Blues Old Chub.

Additional curiosities: Tom suggested Troeg’s Mad Elf (cloves, honey, and cherries…not a bad Turkey Day combo). Ommegang’s Three Philosophers has dark fruit, cherries, and brown sugar (slight sourness from the cherries). Tony suggested Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse, which apparently paired very well with a thyme-roasted chicken his wife made (I imagine the Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse would work well, too). And Chris suggested Guinness with a Jameson chaser, which gets the prize for most efficient.

Dessert: For dessert, you can go with Founder’s Breakfast Stout, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, or any of Southern Tier’s Blackwater Series Imperial Stouts or their Backburner Barleywine. Alternatively, if you don’t want guests sleeping on your couch, you could try Tony’s “lighter” suggestions for dessert: Chimay Blue (fruit, spice, rich malt) or a Unibroue Noire de Chambly (fruits, spice, and slight chocolate).

Uncle Sal had the Chocolate Stout...and a Budweiser.

The Haybag: I give a thumbs up on those Browns. Also, even though ruling out hop bombs is blasphemy in this house, I think we are going to roll with Oskar Blues Old Chub to complement the smoked turkey. And I am cooking, so keep ’em coming, “Uncle Sal”.