by James Nevison
The possibilities for pairing beer with the Thanksgiving meal are as bountiful as the cornucopia of food options for the table.
M uch has been written on the wise ways of marrying wine with Thanksgiving meals. But what about beer? Why should wine have all the pairing fun? While historically wine may have been seen as more socially sophisticated and “appropriate” for significant get-togethers, the reality these days of course is that beer—particularly local craft beer—can be just as deliciously serious. Not to mention nuanced and diverse in flavour and style, ideal qualities for pairing a multiple-course, multifaceted meal. Really, the strategies for pairing beer with food remain similar to those for wine: work to either match or contrast the potable with what’s on the plate. The fun comes when considering beer’s unique styles and flavour profiles. For example, the addition of hops brings a wide range of tastes (from earthy to fruity) and taste sensations (from bitter to juicy). Roasted malts are another common brewing ingredient, and considering how Thanksgiving meal preparation typically involves significant roasting, there is a sense of how the stars can align. The possibilities for pairing beer with the Thanksgiving meal are as
bountiful as the cornucopia of food options for the table. With this in mind, here are some options for common Thanksgiving dishes. Roast Turkey & Amber Ale Amber ale offers a great combination of toasty malts and bright fruit, making it a great partner for rich, roast turkey. The beer begets its beautiful, namesake reddish amber colour thanks to the ample roasted caramel and crystal malts used during brewing. This tends to also imbue an evident earthier, malty stance—which, no surprise, marries well with the caramelization that occurs during the roasting process. Yet the counterpoint comes from a nice hit of hops and fruit esters, which brightens up the turkey overall. This back-and-forth flavour pull is in play with Phillips Brewing’s venerable Blue Buck Ale (which should be noted, works just as well with a roasted vegetarian centrepiece dish). Baked Ham & Lager On the other hand, it can be a theme of “contrast all the way” when opting for a crisp, fruity lager with servings of baked
ham. Particularly if a decadent glaze is employed; the piercing stylings and hop bitterness of refreshing lager will work wonderfully to cut through the sweetness and fattiness of ham, leaving the palate refreshed. The 33 Acres of Life may not be a classic lager (it’s a “California Common” style lager that finds its lager yeast fermented at warmer, ale-like temperatures), yet it maintains the requisite lip-smacking, crisp characteristics for this application! Roast Vegetables & Witbier Roast vegetables deserve their own starring role on the Thanksgiving table, hence they should get their own beer pairing. Witbier, or “white beer,” is a perfect partner for roast vegetables of all sorts, from broccoli to Brussels sprouts. Witbier turns down the hop influence and ups the wheat content in the brewing process, which typically also sees the addition of coriander, citrus and other spices. The result, as in the case of Strange Fellows Jongleur Belgian Style Wit Beer, is cloudy, a little spicy and endearingly refreshing—it’s like the beer equivalent of adding a little citrus juice or zest to finish the roast vegetables.
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