Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Thanksgiving: Pairing Craft Beers with Turkey and Ham

While wine is the most promoted beverage of choice for Thanksgiving Day, not everyone drinks wine or even likes wine. The savvy host or hostess will also offer some beer pairing for discriminating guests.

Beer and Turkey  was created in 2006 to encourage people hosting holiday celebrations to include craft beer in their holiday dinner menus. Beer and food enthusiasts are thirsty to know what to drink and how to serve craft beer at their holiday meals.

The caramelized and toasted grain flavors in many beers complement the flavors of roast turkey while herbal hop additions pair nicely with popular holiday seasonings such as sage.

Furthermore, the carbonation, fruitiness and balanced bitterness of many craft beers allow them to stand up to creamy, butter-rich preparations like mashed potatoes, creamed corn, and similar fare.
Julia Herz, a spokesperson for the Brewers Association says, Our country’s history is rich with stories of beer and food and craft beer picks up where wine leaves off. Many styles of beer both complement and contrast the food they are paired with, whereas wine mostly contrasts. The holiday dinner table is a very appropriate place for beer made from America’s small, independent and traditional brewers.

Here are some suggestions for beer styles to pair with various main courses:

Traditional Roast Turkey:  The roasted and caramelized skin matches well with amber ale, a strong golden ale, or an amber lager in the Vienna style. 
Ham:  Like the fruit and cloves often used to prepare ham, the fruity, clove notes in weizen or the stronger weizenbock complement ham at the dinner table. 
Duck:  The darker meat of duck offers a richer flavor than turkey and can stand up to a richer beer as well. Belgian-inspired dubbel or a hearty Oktoberfest lager would go well.
Goose:  Here a richer beer than you would choose for turkey is in order. A Belgian-style triple or biere de garde would work well as would a bock or Scotch ale.
Salmon: A dunkel lager or Scottish ale can offer a clean toasted malt note to offset the firm flavors of salmon without a lot of bitterness that would overwhelm the fish. Other options would include a mild ale or steam beer.
Leg of Lamb:  Pale ales provide a pleasant foil to lamb with a spicy or herbal character to complement the character of the meat along with some toasted malt notes. Or for more harmony with the roasted flavors of the meat, try a hoppy brown ale or porter. 
Beef Tenderloin:  This rich hearty cut of meat deserves a robust beer as a counterpoint but also calls for some contrast to clear the palate between bites. The ideal companion would be an IPA or Imperial IPA.  Other options might include a tripel or old ale.

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