JBU > Intermediate

Beer Pairings for Thanksgiving

If there was alcohol at the original Thanksgiving meal then it was most likely ale. For an authentic Thanksgiving, pair your dinner with some beer this year.

Beer Pairings for Thanksgiving

As you take stock and remember everything you are grateful for in your life here are some Thanksgiving beer pairings that you can be thankful for as well.

General Pairing Rules

1. Decide What You Are Highlighting

If you are pairing with each course, then think about the dish you are serving. If it is bland like mashed potatoes then you can pair it with a stronger or more complex beer because the flavours will not clash or overpower. In this case, you’d be highlighting the beer. If you are using your Grandma Tilly’s special yam mashed potato recipe which has spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove those are some pretty overpowering spices, so you need to dial back on the complexity of the beer so you can highlight the dish instead.

2. Keep it Simple

If pairing with each dish or course is too much, after all, you’re already hosting like 15 people then match your beer to the entire meal. This is also a good strategy for potlucks when you don’t know what everyone is bringing or you need to bring beers to your host and don’t know what they are serving. Beer styles that flatter the entire meal, but are still a little fancier than showing up with a 6-pack of Buds are: Biere de Garde, Biere de Champagne, an Oktoberfest Lager or Barleywine.

3. Your Taste is Nobody’s Taste But Yours

Remember the difficult part about pairing is that everyone’s taste is different. You might love something that your dad thinks is disgusting and vice versa, so always keep some bottles on hand of your old trusted favorites and if you know them, your guests’ favorites because you can never go wrong with those.


Let the Pairings Begin

Roast Turkey – Amber or Brown Ale

An amber ale or a brown ale is a great match for this traditional Thanksgiving meat dish. We highly recommend Breakside Brewery’s Sweet Potato Brown, Goose Island Festivity Ale or Scuttlebutt Amber Ale.


Smoked Turkey – Scotch Ale or Porter

The smokey flavor of this dish is perfect for the full-bodied heaviness of both scotch ales aka wee heavy and porters. We recommend KettleHouse Brewing’s Cold Smoke Scotch Ale, Odyssey Beerwerks’ Clan Warrior Scotch Ale or Anchor Porter.


Ham – Weizenbock or Belgian Dubbel

The strong malts of the Weizenbock and Dubbel styles are a great match to a Thanksgiving ham. We suggest Silver City’s Wonderland Winter Lager, Left Hand Brewing’s TNT Weizen Doppelbock or Ommegang’s Abbey Ale.


Veggies – Hefeweizen or Saison

Yes, some people do have some vegetable at their meal and more specifically roasted root vegetables, glazed carrots or some sort of squash dish. All of these would have been plentiful at the time and are a great seasonal veggie choice this time of year. Their lighter nature tends to pair well with light colored light-bodied ales like hefeweizen or saison. We like Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweis, Worthy Brewing’s Farm Out Saison, and Gilgamesh Brewing’s DJ Jazzy Hef.


Cornbread – Spiced Ale or Winter Warmer

Remember the rule we talked about earlier, if a food is bland then highlight the beer. Well, cornbread while being delicious tends to be a little bland and dry, so we suggest a beer with a bit of spice or kick to it. Try a spiced ale aka herb ale or winter warmer. We recommend Ninkasi’s Transcendentale, Deschutes Jubelale or 21st Amendment’s Fireside Chat


Pies – Milk Stout or Dunkelweizen

Pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, pecan pie, apple pie there are just an abundance of wonderful pies that you can serve this holiday. They are all sweet and delicious and would pair well with sweet delicious beers like Milk Stout aka Sweet Stouts or Dunkelweizens. We love Stone’s Coffee Milk Stout, Whistler Brewing’s Winter Dunkel, and Speakeasy’s Black Hand.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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