I bought my Thanksgiving turkey today. It's a bit nutty that I'm excited to spend several days cooking but after a month spent in a minimalist airbnb kitchen, I'm beyond thrilled to be back in my own kitchen with proper knives and mixing bowls! Also I really can't pass up a great deal on food (turkey for .99 a pound?! Uh yeah!). So I picked up a 14 lb beauty and started drooling thinking about the 24 hour brine, the dry rub I was going to try this year, all done up and roasted to perfection. Then smothered with that new gravy recipe I saw in Bon Appetit. Once I got it home, I happily marked turkey off my shopping list and then continued looking down the multitude of flavors I was going to bring to the table. It was then I realized that one beer was not going to be enough for this feast.
As I know my family only too well, I knew a six pack of each style would be seen as.a challenge. Honest to Betsy, we had a 300 pints night when I was in my first brewery rep job, and they did anything but disappoint.... on the drinking front that is. On other fronts there were lots of disappointments and embarrassing moments we all try to forget. Since I was planning on having wines and even a cocktail present, I thought it best to have more of a beer tasting than a full on booze fest. Enter the glory of the mixed six pack.
Now as a brewery rep, I detested the mixed six pack. Most people pluck the odd bottle from a full six pack that isn't even in the mixed six selection, leaving you one short of a full deck. However, as a beer drinker, I love them. I get to try some of the more daring selections out there without having to commit to a full pack. No fear of getting stuck with more than I need if I'm not a fan of it. My personal favorite selection is at the local Total Wine which has a mix seasonal selection and a mix year round selection so I can always find something to fit my needs.
For your Thanksgiving table, here are six selections with some food pairings to carry you from first course to last. Each of the recommended brews websites are attached, many of which have beer finder features to help you find the closest brew to you! Happy hunting!
1: Pilsner with the cheese course or root vegetables:
The bright crisp pop of a great pilsner is like having the light switched on. It's aromatic bouquet is bright and spicy yet it maintains a light body that easily quenches your thirst. Start off the feast by cracking one of these open with a cheese selection of Brie or a mild cheddar or save it for the roasted vegetable course.
Pilsner Urquell here
Oscar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils here
Radeberger Pilsner here
2: Amber Ale with turkey
Not just a great name (always told people mom named me after a beer), these brews can cover a wide stretch of flavors, but typically they share a similar amber to ruby hue. Amber ales can vary between caramel character, biscuit, nutty flavors or even a pop of floral. Since there can be wide variances in flavor, these ales can benefit a wide variety of food pairings and also have something to please a crowd.
New Belgium Brewing Fat Tire Amber Ale here
Troegs Brewing Company Hopback Amber Ale here
Bell's Amber Ale here
3. Brown ale with stuffing
Brown ales have fallen in and out of flavor and some may have written them off lately as delicious but maybe not as inventive as the rest of the market. However, the malty, slightly sweet and nutty characteristic is gloriously delicious in its simplicity and perfectly suited for the flavors of fall. Also innovation is the brewers best friend and many have incorporated more fall friendly flavors like nuts, spices, and coffee in bringing some attention back to the brown. Drink with or incorporate into your stuffing recipe.
Newcastle Brown Ale here
Avery Ellie's Brown Ale here
Samuel Smiths Nut Brown Ale here
By this point in your meal, your palate is probably suffering under the weight of heavy spice and richness and your relatives may just be beginning to turn the tides from welcome guest to "why are they still in my house?" Time to hit them with the Tripel. This is a higher ABV yet surprisingly dry golden beauty with citrus, fruit, and herbal notes. The bitterness will cut through the flavorful fats and get your palate ready for a bit of dessert, and the high ABV may help you tolerate your relatives more.
Unibroue La Fin du Monde here
Brouwerij Westmalle Trappist Tripel here
Bieres De Chimay Tripel here
The dessert table is staring you down, but the button on the top of your jeans is already popped. Not that I would ever be the one to talk you out of dessert (serious weakness for frosted sugar cookies), but if you feel not up to the challenge why not pour a goblet of the dubbel. Heavily bodied, the Dubbel is like a dessert in itself. Rich with sweet dark fruit like raisins and plums and even chocolate, this brew would easily compliment a heavily spiced dessert or stand on its own.
Brouwerij Westmalle Dubbel here
Chimay Premiere Rouge here
Ommegang Abbey Dubbel here
,6: Milk Stout
My family always has an apple pie, chocolate pie, and occasionally a pumpkin pie. The common link is that all the pies come with a dollup of whipped cream of scoop of vanilla ice cream. Really cements in the full belly feast. The milk stout is the perfect, slightly sweet, creamy pint to go with a dollup of ice cream or whipped cream. Used like an energy shot in the early days to revive laborers and touted as nutritious (even doctor prescribed), this sweet and creamy stout has a full body and often chocolate notes. It may be the healthiest thing you have all day... then again maybe not.
Well & Young's Brewing Company Double Chocolate Stout here
Terrapin Brewery Moo-hoo Chocolate Milk Stout here
Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout Nitro here
There you have it! Enough to please the beer drinkers at your holiday table or at least enough to help them not notice the rolls are burned. I will admit I have done that before. Hopefully this holiday paired mix-six will be enough to keep my family happy and well drenched in beer. I still don't think they have recovered from the night of 300.
Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!
Pairings for turkey day can be difficult. No two spreads are alike, and every bite can be very diverse in flavor. So knowing what to bring to the table to fully compliment your meal can be almost as much of an undertaking as putting together the dinner menu. Since you have way more to worry about that day than whats filling your wine glass (seriously did the bird go into the oven on time?!), we've put together this handy little guideline for pairings best suited for turkey day!
Dry Sparkling Shiraz
Like champagne, the sparkling shiraz is bottle fermented. Bursting with sweet berry notes, this bright ruby fizzer not only looks great with your table setting, but brilliantly cuts through the rich flavors of turkey and gravy like that similar hued tart little palate cleanser, cranberry sauce. Serve this slightly chilled by popping it in the fridge for 30-40 minutes prior to pouring.
Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz Australia here.
Molly Dooker Miss Molly Sparkling Shiraz Australia here.
Bleasdale The. Red Brute Sparkling Shiraz Australia here.
Bright and fruity pinot noir
Pinot Noir is like a great party host. Everyone likes them and knows their name. It has great acid, low tannin (usually), and a medium to light body that can stand alongside a number of dishes present at your Thanksgiving table. Bright red fruits like cherries, raspberries, and strawberries with hints of spice lend to brilliant pairings with many of the rich and decadent flavors.
Underwood Pinot Noir Oregon here.
Rickshaw Pinot Noir California here
D'autrefois Pinot Noir France here
New world unoaked Chardonnay
Classic oak aged chardonnays offer rich white wines, but its other half, the unoaked chardonnay, can be bright, mineral, and dry. The unoaked chardonnay brings mineral, flint like flavors to the table as well as refreshing pops of palate cleansing flavors like citrus peels, apple, pear, and light florals depending on the winemaker. These bright palate cleansing flavors can cut through the richness of your gravy covered turkey legs.
A to Z Chardonnay Unoaked Oregon here.
Mer Soleil Silver Chardonnay California here
Wrath EX Unoaked Chardonnay California here.
Riesling honestly gets a bad rap. After spending some time in Germany and having some truly magnificent reislings, I'm happy to convice you that reisling is not the super sweet wine its made out to be. Rich in flowery perfumed aromas, reisling actually has a high acidity and can bring a mineral slate-like flavor to the table. It can easily stand up to heavily spiced foods like Thai and Chinese, so those heavily spiced stuffings, pies, and sauces are no worry.
Clean Slate Reisling Germany here
Urban Reisling Germany here.
Dr. Heidemanns Reisling Dry Germany here.
This would definitely be something to start with as an aperitif or even something to accompany your desserts. Gewurztraminer has a higher sugar content and brings notes of floral and tropical fruit like lychee and passionfruit to the table. It is a wine to get those taste buds up and ready for the feast or to waltz alongside that apple pie a la mode.
Trimbach Gewurztraminer France here
Gundlach-Bundschu Estate Vineyard Gewurtztraminer California here
Hugel & Fils "Hugel" Gewurtztraminer France here
Rose is one of my absolute favorite wine styles. It's light, refreshing, palate cleansing, and quite easy to sit down and drink the whole bottle on a summer afternoon. With its light fruity character, rose easily pairs with a number of bolder cuisines and once tried easily converts skeptics into raving fans. If you're like me, you keep a secret stash of rose handy at all times, but if not there should be some still hanging around after the summer rose season. Feel free to try a sparkling rose as well.
Chateau d'Esclans Whispering Angel Rose France here.
Charles Smith Band of Roses Rose Washington here
Bieler Pere et Fils Rose France here
For those who are more beer focused, check out our beer pairings post, here.
If you need something a little stronger to get through the holiday, check out our cocktail pairings post here.
Now you hopefully have a handle on what wine to pour for the family and a few options to please everyone, even Uncle Joe who seems to not like anything. Don't hesitate to pick up an extra bottle or two...just in case. If something goes a little screwy, just pour more wine. After a few glasses they'll never notice the difference.
Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!
Celebrating all that we raise, sip, guzzle, clink, drinks and most affectionately cheers with!