The Best Beer Pairings for Thanksgiving Dinner
Updated: October 18th, 2019 – For an authentic Thanksgiving, pair your dinner with some beer this year. Your friends at JustBeer want to ensure you are getting the most out of each traditional Thanksgiving dish by pairing it with the perfect beer!
By The Beer Community on Oct. 02, 2020
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks for everything (and everyone) you are grateful for. It is a time to spend with the people you love, to enjoy good food, and of course, to enjoy good beer. This is why you should pair your Thanksgiving dishes with the perfect beer to enhance the dining experience for everyone! (over the age of 21, of course)
Often at Thanksgiving dinner, there are tons of different food items all with different flavours, so finding the perfect beer to pair with dinner can be a little tricky. This is why we’ve created this Thanksgiving beer pairing guide to help you out when selecting the beers to go with your Thanksgiving dinner menu.
What Beer Styles to Pair with Thanksgiving Dinner
Quick Thanksgiving Dinner Beer Pairing Guide
For quick reference, use this pairing guide for traditional Thanksgiving dishes
- Oven-Roasted Turkey – Amber or brown ale
- Smoked Turkey – Scotch Ale or Porter
- Smoked Ham – Pilsner or Lager
- Veggies – Hefeweizen or Saison
- Mashed Potatoes & Cornbread – Spiced Ale or Winter Warme
- Pies – Milk Stout or Dunkelweizen
Traditional Thanksgiving Beer Pairings & Recommendations
Roasted Turkey – The Spotlight of Thanksgiving Dinner
While Canadian Thanksgiving did come first, it is said that Canadians copied the turkey tradition from America. There are many ways to prepare your turkey. No matter which way you choose, the turkey will always be the centrepiece of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Make sure you are choosing the perfect beer to complement the main dish:
What Beer Style to Pair with Roasted Turkey:
Try an Amber Ale or a Brown Ale. The browning during the brewing process is similar to the caramelizing that happens to a turkey while roasting in the oven. If you’re more of a lighter beer connoisseur, try a Lager like an Oktoberfest.
Amber/Brown Ale Beers We Love: Wynkoop Brewing’s Rail Yard Amber Ale (Denver, CO), Around The Bend Beer Co.’s Puffing Billy (Chicago, IL), Abita Brewing Company’s Octoberfest (Covington, LA)
Stuffing a.k.a. Dressing – Thanksgiving turkey’s best friend
Stuffing and turkey might have more of a “friends with benefits” relationship and sometimes things can get complicated between them. There is one thing we know for sure though, you can’t have a Thanksgiving feast without stuffing!
What Beer Style to Pair with Turkey Stuffing/Dressing:
We recommend a Milk Stout or a Winter Warmer. The bread flavours in the stuffing will complement flavours in these dark beer styles.
Milk Stout/Winter Warmer Beers We Love: Belching Beaver Brewery’s Beavers Milk Stout (Vista, CA), Hillman Beer’s Hi-Dee-Ho (Asheville, NC)
Potatoes – Mashed, roasted, scalloped, etc.
Potatoes are another staple for your Thanksgiving feast. Mashed potatoes is an obvious go-to but some States choose to roast or scallop their potatoes. Either way, you need to make sure your beer perfectly complements your Thanksgiving side dish.
What Beers to Pair with Potatoes at Thanksgiving:
Since potatoes are usually light on flavour, it is great to pair them with heavier beers like Strong Ales or Spiced Ales.
Strong Ale/Spiced Ale Beers We Love: Anchor Brewing’s Anchor Barrel Ale (San Francisco, CA), Yards Brewing Company’s Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce (Philadelphia, PA)
Thanksgiving Veggie Dishes – Green beans, brussels sprouts, carrots, squash, etc.
There are many different traditional veggie dishes to serve at your Thanksgiving feast. Finding the perfect beer pairing for your thanksgiving veggies can enhance the overall experience of your meal. (Perfect beer pairing for Vegetarians and Vegan Thanksgiving dishes!)
What Beer to Pair with Thanksgiving Vegetables:
Many vegetable dishes have a lot of flavours. We suggest pairing lighter-bodied beers with veggies. Try a Light Lager or a Hefeweizen.
Lager and Hefeweizen Beers We Love: Mehana Brewing’s Humpback Island Lager (Hilo, HI), Rahr & Sons’ Summertime Wheat (Fort Worth, TX)
Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows – A Thanksgiving classic
This classic Thanksgiving dish is more popular in the United States than it is in Canada. This dish is the perfect mix between dinner and dessert. Best of both worlds!
Beer Pairing for Sweet Potatoes / Marshmallows:
This traditional Thanksgiving dish has very sweet flavours. Try pairing this side with a hoppy IPA! The bitterness of an India Pale Ale will enhance the sweet flavours on your palate.
Beers We Love: Gigantic Brewing’s IPA (Portland, OR), Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA (Milton, DE), Anchorage Brewing’s Galaxy White IPA (Anchorage, AK)
Pumpkin Pie – Everyone’s favourite Thanksgiving dessert
Every Thanksgiving feast needs to end with a great dessert. Pumpkin pie is a classic! If you’re not into pumpkin pie as much as we are, Deschutes Brewery has put together this great pie and beer pairing infographic to help you out.
Thanksgiving Beer Pairings for Pumpkin Pie:
Pumpkin pie has lots of spice flavours. Some may think that lighter beers should be paired with bold pumpkin flavours, but this would be wrong! Try a chocolate or coffee porter. These strong flavours in your beer will complement and help bring out the flavours in your pie.
Porter Beers We Love: Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter (Portland, OR), Odyssey Beerwerks’ Psycho Penguin Vanilla Porter (Denver, CO), Boulder Beer’s Shake Chocolate Porter (Boulder, CO)
If you need tips on wine pairings for Thanksgiving, JustWine is your best resource:
The Best Food & Wine Pairings for Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner
Now that you’ve perfected your Thanksgiving beer styles and created the perfect pairings, check out some of our other articles:
Pumpkin and Spice Makes Fall Taste Nice
Beer and Food Pairings for a Merry Christmas
12 Gifts for the Beer Lovers on Your List
The Best Craft Beer and Food Pairings for Christmas Dinner
Craft beer is a great partner for many of your favourite Christmas dishes. Check out the best beer pairings for Christmas dinner.
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