The Beer Report

Great Thanksgiving Beers


Suddenly it’s November and you find yourself in a room, your family members and friends around; the table groans with turkey and all the trimmings–even those nasty yam things Aunt Mary always insists on bringing but no one ever eats. It’s Thanksgiving again. The additional usual suspects are also in attendance: sparkling cider for the kids, that odd bottle of Pinot Noir your friends bought on the way into town, or some beer that was stashed in the back of the fridge, left over from Memorial Day weekend. This year, however, it’s time to start new traditions and breathe life into the stale culinary institutions of Thanksgiving. Craft beer has gained much popularity, not only in bars but also in restaurants with the ability to create a beautiful union between food and drink. So this year, why not put the wine aside and try something new? Here are five beers that will not only complement your meal but will add an entirely new flavor to your holiday feast.

Beer: Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale
Who makes it: Ommegang Brewery
 
In Cooperstown, N.Y., Ommegang has developed a sturdy reputation for brewing quality Belgian-style beer in the U.S. The Belgian pale ale, or BPA, is a rich pairing with Thanksgiving foods. Its golden orange hue gives way to aromas of grassy hops and a slight citrus note.  The BPA is a perfect balance of a lighter beer with a full palate of flavor. The bready subtleties in the BPA go well with the mashed potatoes and stuffing, while the hops clean your palate and wash away the saltiness of the gravy and turkey.
 
To find out more, visit www.ommegang.com

Beer: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace
Who makes it: Brooklyn Brewery
 
The Sorachi Ace takes its name from the rare Sorachi hop variety used in brewing this “saison”-style beer (saison refers to low-alcohol pale ales brewed in Belgium for workers bringing in the fall harvest). Sorachi Ace, a beautiful, hazy, golden ale, was so popular in its seasonal offering that Brooklyn brew master Garret Oliver decided to make and distribute it year-round. The Sorachi hop gives this beer a nice hint of lemon zest in the nose and flavor. Not only is it a great complement to the earthy flavors of the day, but it will be a refreshing way to move on the next course.
 
To find out more, visit www.brooklynbrewery.com

Beer: Sam Adams Boston Ale
Who makes it: Boston Brewing (SAM)
 
I applaud Sam Adams for introducing many beer drinkers to the joys of craft beers. The Boston Ale, a more basic rendition of the American pale ale, is a step above its lager in taste and a great addition to any Thanksgiving table. A nice balance exists between the light hops and heavier malt, with no overbearing flavors but a refreshing carbonation that will wash everything down. Nothing life-changing here, but it’s a fine beer for those who want to try something different. Put down that Coors Light and try one of these instead.
 
To find out more, visit www.samueladams.com

Beer: Anchor Porter
Who makes it: Anchor Brewers & Distilleries
 
Moving to a darker beer with your turkey and fixings is not as scary as some would think. Anchor Brewers & Distilleries has a West Coast pedigree that dates back to 1896, being one of the first microbreweries to open and one of the few remaining breweries that still brews steam beer, also known as a California common. The Anchor porter is a medium-body beer but does not get in the way of your feast. The porter pours a creamy dark brown hue with notes of coffee, caramel, and cocoa on the nose. The sweetness of the malts counteracts the salty aspects of a Thanksgiving meal perfectly. The carbonation keeps it moving on your tongue and finishes with a lovely mouth-feel. Overall, the Anchor porter is an excellent introduction to darker beers.
 
To find out more, visit www.anchorbrewing.com

Beer: La Roja
Who makes it: Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
 
Another solid brewery for Michigan, Jolly Pumpkin is known for giving a wonderful sourness to their beers. This is a good thing: Sour beer is one of the most underrated and misunderstood beers on the market today. Such brews may sound and smell funky, but that is the point. While most brewing is done in sterile environments, making sour beer is a process in which wild strains of yeast and bacteria are allowed to interact with the brewing process, creating a fantastically tart, acidic, and overtly sour beer. While La Roja is classified an “ American wild ale,” it still resembles and tastes like some of the best sour beers around. La Roja pours a dark red blush and smells of funky grapes, raspberries, and oak and can resemble something like a zinfandel in profile. When paired with your Thanksgiving feast, this beer will be a clean, crisp, and tart addition to the heavy flavors you traditionally find on the table. It will cut straight through all the yam, mashed potato, gravy stuffing, and turkey while wonderfully complementing the cranberry sauce. If you want to challenge how you think about beer, give this one a try.
 
To find out more, visit www.jollypumpkin.com

If you want to read about 10 more Thanksgiving beers, click here.

Halsey is a photo editor for Businessweek.com.

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