Unlike many people, I always have beer with my turkey dinner. Lately, it’s Anchor’s Christmas beer. I like a good spicy beer with the myriad flavors of turkey, cranberry, stuffing, mashed potatoes and so forth. Pike’s of Seattle used to also make an excellent spicy beer, Auld Lang Syne, which I also liked for Thanksgiving but they stopped making it quite some time ago. But there are almost as many pairings as there are people, and few can really be said to be wrong as long as they’re well-thought out and manage to contrast or compliment the meal.
A survey of the recent news regarding Thanksgiving reveals that a number of sources are finally recommending beer with the Thanksgiving meal. Ten years ago that would have been a veritable rarity but now that suggestion seems to be everywhere and it’s told with a seemingly welcome relief. Relief that people can stop trying to put a square peg in a round hole, trying in vain to force wine to work with a meal it has little business being involved in. The varied tastes in the average Thanksgiving meal yield so much more easily to beer — as in fact does most food, but that’s for another day — than wine that you just know something other than common sense has been driving the wine pairing suggestions for years.
First, the Associated Press (AP) had a story that many outlets picked up under various titles, such as “Craft beers join Turkey Day table,” “Have a beer with Thanksgiving dinner,” and the vaguely insulting “Thanksgiving dinner — and beer?” But the article itself it surprisingly well-done.
There’s also “A Thanksgiving Toast,” a nice editorial in the L.A. Times giving a historical perspective for drinking beer at the Thanksgiving meal. And the Boston Globe has a similar theme in “Ale, ale, the gang’s all here.” Then there’s this piece from Canada called “It’s not Thanksgiving without beer.”
Likewise, Eric Hjerstedt Sharp, writing in the Ironwood, Michigan Daily Globe about Thanksgiving myths, has the following to add:
Scripps News has an article entitled “Choosing the best beer for a holiday dinner.” And while I could take issue with some of the author’s ignorance, she also has some good suggestions for the novice, too, so in the holiday spirit I’ll let it pass.
Tim Cotter, writing for The Day in Connecticut, suggests two fine beers to try with your turkey, Ommegang Abbey Ale or Allagash Grand Cru, in his column entitled “Turkey Beers.”
At Epicurious, there’s article called “Thanks for the Brews, Beers for Thanksgiving day,” by Marty Nachel, author of Beer for Dummies.
And there’s also “The beer nut: Giving thanks for good beers” at the Daily News in rural Massachusetts.
This year, the Brewers Association launched its own campaign called “The Year Beer Goes With the Bird” whose aim to show the advantages of pairing beer with your Thanksgiving meal this year. Some of their suggestions:
The recipes on the left are also on the Brewers Association website and are courtesy of my good friend, beer cook Lucy Saunders.
And here’s in an interesting piece of history in itself. It’s an article by Michael Jackson from the Washington Post from November of 1983 called Beer at the Thanksgiving table. And here’s a more recent one on the same subject by Michael’s friend, award-winning beer writer, Carol Smagalski, entitled “Elegant Beer for the Thanksgiving Table.”
And then, of course, there’s my friend Lisa Morrison’s award-winning piece, “This Thanksgiving, Beer Is For The Bird” in which challenges her readers to “Try Serving Well-Crafted Local Beer At The Table, Pilgrim.”
And in case you thought this was a new idea, here’s an ad from 1946 extolling the virtues of beer with turkey by the National Brewing Co. of Baltimore, Maryland.