Approach appetizers with a light-bodied beer that goes easy on the taste buds. Try an amber ale or a pilsner—Victory makes the outstanding Prima Pils, but a Sam Adams Boston Lager would do the trick. If you’re feeling particularly dangerous, try a Belgian pale ale like Orval or Duvel, or maybe a Bière de Garde like Jolly Pumpkin’s Bière De Mars. These bright, funky ales will keep the palate fresh while slicing through those first-course flavors. And if greens are on the menu, pick up New Belgium’s Frambozen Raspberry Brown Ale. Its tart, fruity finish works well with non-ranch salad dressings.
Pairing with a primary dish can go a few different ways. Assuming you’re eating turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc., a dark ale will serve you well. Consider a Belgian-style beer like Ommegang’s Rare Vos or, for the brave souls, a quadruple like Rochefort 10 or St. Bernardus Abt 12. Be careful; quads are extremely potent. Conversely, you could revisit lagers. These crisp beers make great palate cleansers, and German pilsners in particular complement poultry.
For dessert, milk stouts harmonize perfectly with chocolate. You can experiment with bolder variations, too: Pour a glass of The Abyss or Stone’s Russian Imperial Stout after dishing out the pumpkin pie. Several other styles, including porters, lambics, and weizenbocks, also pair well with dessert; the estery flavors in lambics and weizenbocks go well with rich fruit pies, while a porter’s chocolate and coffee flavors speak for themselves.
After dinner, let your food settle while you sink into a warm armchair of inebriation with a barleywine or dopplebock. But remember, none of these guidelines are written in stone. Experiment! Get to know the styles and play with flavor combinations. And have a happy and beer-drenched Thanksgiving!
Author's Note: I fully support drinking water! It's actually one of beer's secret BFFs, as it cleanses the palate and slows intoxication.
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