Monday, November 19, 2012

Turkey, Football and Beer... But What Beer?

The greatest holiday in the history of mankind approaches.

I love Thanksgiving. From the roasty aroma of the bird browning in the oven, to the last minuscule, crumb of pumpkin pie crust left on the plate—I love Thanksgiving.

Grandma knows what I'm talking about.
Because I love this holiday so much, for the past few years I've taken to brewing a beer for the occasion. I have a tendency to brew for holidays and events, anyway—they're always a good excuse to do something fun with home brew. Turkey-day, however, is serious business when it comes to brewing. There are so many things going on that day—and not just food-wise, either. People are coming and going, the parade in NYC is parading, the potatoes are being mashed, it's third and goal, the Democrats are ruining everything—no the Republicans are! You've got to come up with the perfect beer for all that—a beer that's not going to have you sacked out on the couch, with the button on your pants undone before the tryptothan kicks in; a beer that's not going to have you filled-up by the first pass of cornbread dressing; a beer that, if one chooses to quaff with dinner, won't clash with those traditional trimmings. The ideal Thanksgiving beer can be tricky.

However, I think I'm on to something with this years brew— a 3.7%, Märzeneque-gristed-hopped-like-a-Pale-Ale, session brew. It's light in body and slightly sweet, mildly bitter, with tangerine upfront and bread at the backend. It's golden orange with a slight haze, and very drinkable. The beer is pretty simple, in make-up—Pilsner, Munich, Vienna and Crystal malts. Chinook for bittering, Cascade for aroma and Perle hops in the middle to round everything out. An American Ale yeast is clean, and lets the malt and hops do their own talking. I think this one is going to work out nicely.

My question is, what's your perfect Thanksgiving beer?

Now, I realize that some of you don't "technically" celebrate Thanksgiving, so I'll rephrase the question: What's your perfect argue-with-Uncle-John-while-eating-large-quantities-of-food-as-any-number-of-professional-sporting-events-play-out-on-television beer?

Thanksgiving, Christmas, La Tomantina, Festivus—they're all really the same.


  1. I think a Pale Ale or a mellow IPA [~6% ABV and IBU < 70] compliments turkey and dressing and et al very well.

    But, for me the best beer for [almost] every occasion is a pilsner, Germany or Czech. Spicy, crisp, refreshing, thirst-quenching, and light on the stomach.

    Two breweries and two brewpubs in my neighborhood make excellent pilsners. For that,
    I am thankful.
    Happy Hols.

  2. As you know, we have had our Thanksgiving. I probably drank wine. Or a Manhattan. Or likely both. Plus some beer. I likely cooked so I likely had a fair bit. Thanksgiving does not have the same cultural role for us up north as it is the last holiday of the summer as opposed to the first of winter... or whatever "the holidays" are in the USA. We call that Dec 15 to Jan 2 tops. Plus in our family we just don't eat turkey. Why make something that is difficult to cook, not the greatest tasting thing and leaves far too much of itself as left overs? One thing I have noticed is that leading up to big days like this is that beef and lamb drop in price. So we go for large rib roasts and legs of baby sheep. Wild meat would be good too. Fish, too. A whole salmon with saison. That'd be good.

    1. See, I'm a turkey fiend.

      It's always been something special, because we rarely have a true, roasted turkey other than on TG. Don't get me wrong I love the crown roast as much as the next guy, but I'm still a sucker for the bird.

    2. I want goose. I want any meat actually. Summer 2011 we spent half a week in Montreal and in the first 36 hours I ate the flesh of 15 different species of animal. But, if I could get a reliable source of turkey chunks instead of whole birds, maybe I could get into this species, too. One thing I would note as well. I don't make wine or beer to the meat so much as the herbs and spices and other techniques I use when cooking. I can make pretty much anything with a mushroom dubbel sauce or with a rosemary / thyme tripel sauce and I know what I am going to have with it.

  3. I've always wanted a Christmas goose, but I can't get anybody else to eat it. I'm brining the turkey this year in sweet tea.

  4. @Alan :'turkey ... leaves far too much of itself as left overs'

    My wife and I enjoy the turkey leftovers more than the initial meal.
    Consider augmenting leftover turkey and gravy with
    o Cornbread-Country [pork] Sausage-Jalapeno Dressing
    [comprised of cornbread dressing, Jimmy Dean's Pork Sage Sausage, diced jalapenos, and sage]
    o Cranberry-Ginger-Jalapeno Relish
    [comprised of cranberries, ginger, jalapeno, and cilantro]

    Sometime we forgo the turkey.

  5. My favorite leftover combo is a turkey po' boy. A lightly grilled baggette, topped with turkey and gravy, dressing, lettuce, tomato, pickles and a little cranberry mayo.

    Oh yeah, that's the stuff.

  6. We're visiting my son & fam in Columbus, Ohio. This morning I made a loop of several beer emporiums looks for interesting / unusual beers.
    I found way too many winter seasonals instead. So many as to push normally available Ohio and Pennsylvania beers off the shelves.
    I resorted to purchasing a 6er of Frisian German pilsener [Jever] in green bottles. Desperate ... measures. It was good.