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!
Celebrating all that we raise, sip, guzzle, clink, drinks and most affectionately cheers with!