Beer Pairings for Your Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes

Beer Pairings for Your Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes

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Casey Barber
Nov 20, 2014
(Image credit: Casey Barber)

We food writers toe a fine line every Thanksgiving. We're cooks too, so we understand how fraught it can be to balance tradition and innovation with each dish on our menu. How do you tell your dad that you would honestly rather make a ham this year than roast one more turkey? It's a tough call.

If you're looking for a way to add something unexpected to your table this Thanksgiving, here's one option that still gives everyone the chance to enjoy the classic food they've been craving all year. Instead of wine, try a beer pairing for each dish on the Thanksgiving buffet.

Whether you serve each pairing as a beer flight or let guests pick and choose what they'd like to sample, offering a selection of brews as part of your Thanksgiving menu doesn't take anything away from the day — and may convert a few fans to the world of craft beer! (Who knew Grandma was such a big proponent of porter?)

This year, try these beer-pairing suggestions for your tried-and-true Thanksgiving dishes. Cheers!

(Image credit: Casey Barber)

Turkey and Mashed Potatoes

Let's face it — when we're talking about these two titans of the Thanksgiving table, we're also talking about a third component (and one that many would argue is the most crucial element of enjoyment): gravy. Its blanket of comforting salty starchiness can be paired with a classic Oktoberfest — either a German bottle, like the Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen, or one of the many American versions from Yuengling, Shiner, and others.

Sweet Potatoes

I'm not going to get into the discussion of whether marshmallow topping should or shouldn't make an appearance on top of your sweet potatoes this year (though my diplomatic response is "one year on, one year off" for those with strong opinions about these things), but I will heartily recommend a beer with toasty caramel and toffee notes to match this tuber's flavor profile. Doppelbocks like the Troegenator from PA's Troegs Brewing or the venerable Salvator from Germany's Paulaner fit the full-bodied, malty bill.

Green Beans and Brussels Sprouts

Just as these two popular veggie sides add a contrasting pop of green to the otherwise earth-toned Thanksgiving tableau and bring a bracing hit of (slightly) bitter vegetal taste to the plate, their beer cohort of a peppery farmhouse ale will brighten things up. Brooklyn Brewery's sprightly Sorachi Ace is a winner, as is the can't-miss standby of Goose Island's Sofie. (And both come in large-format bottles for perfect presentation.)

Cranberry Sauce

Canned, fresh, whole-berried, or food-processed, we're looking at some serious tart tones from whichever way you want to serve your bowl of cranberry sauce. A creamy Belgian witbier, with its blend of citrus and spices, keeps things light and doesn't let bitterness bring you down. Allagash White does the Belgian style right.

Pumpkin Pie

Some of us don't want coffee with our slices of whipped cream-topped pie — we want to keep the beer pairing party rolling into the dessert hour. Brewed with molasses and spices, Lancaster Shoo-Fly Pie Porter is a no-brainer for this season's sweet offerings, but if you can't find this Amish-inspired favorite in your area, seek out Southern Tier's Creme Brûlée for a similarly sweet but balanced matchup.
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