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Beer Pairings for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. I love Thanksgiving for the food but have generally never been able to find a wine that goes well with the dinner. I converted to trying out beer with dinner so I’ll share some of my thoughts with you, using beer you should be able to pick up in Colorado Springs. If you’re in the Pikes Peak Region, but not the Springs, take some of my ideas and work with the offerings at your local brewery. Even if you’re in the Springs, you’ll have to either visit Coaltrain’s, the Springs Liquor Outlet, or another place that carries good beer. Or visit the brewery to pick up a growler (64oz) of beer.

I think many people choose to bring wine to the Thanksgiving Dinner because family has gathered together and wine has the appearance of being a bit more classy, well, it is when you compare it to the 3.2% beers you buy in the grocery store. But good beer can offer a complexity and flavor palate that far surpasses anything that wine can offer, and it can be presented in an elegant way as well. If you don’t have snifter glasses, just pour the beer into a wine glass.

Pre-Dinner Beer:
If you’re the average household during Thanksgiving, the guys are all watching TV in the
other room. Instead of picking up a Bud Light, try out a pale ale from a local brewery. I’m recommending a pale ale, which will be a little higher in alcohol but will drink slower and the hops will provide a refreshing kick. Don’t buy an IPA though, as that can ruin your palate for later. A six pack Bristol Brewing Mass Transit will work well here. Phantom Canyon has a great Amber Ale called Railyard Ale that is 4% and it very easy to drink, you’ll need to buy a growler there.

Beer With Dinner:
There are so many great flavors happening during dinner, ranging from spiced and roasted meats, to creamy potatoes, to carmelized squash, to cranberry. For this portion I suggest the beer to not be very heavy, like a stout or porter, because the food will be heavy enough. There are many different ideas, so I’m going to list quite a few for you. Many people regularly suggest brown ales, octoberfest style lagers, and amber ales. I think it’s good to have something that is slightly nutty and caramel, something that will give a warm and sweet feeling aftertaste, that has a taste that fills the palate but doesn’t overwhelm. So if you’re going for a brown ale I would try out a pack of Avery’s Ellie’s Brown Ale. Avery is from Boulder, CO. I would also recommend Avery’s double Octoberfest Lager called The Kaiser, if you find it. It only comes in 22oz bottles and at over 9% alcohol, you may want to make sure you’re only pouring 6-8oz into a wine glass. It will look beautiful. It won’t be your average lager though, it will carry some weight, have a nice bisquity finish and have some warm and toasty flavor notes. In terms of Amber Ales, you could go with that Phantom Canyon Railyard Ale that I mentioned earlier, which you would need to pick up in the brewery. It’s a really nice beer.

More On Beer With Dinner:
This year I myself will be trying something a little different than what I mentioned before and I’m pretty sure I”m going to like it. I’m going to try some Belgian-style Saison beers with my food. The only beer I’m mentioning that’s not actually in Colorado is Stone’s Saison Du-Buff, which is a collaboration with Victory and Dogfish Head breweries. The beer is spiced with rosemary and sage, so will go right along many of the dishes on the table. It is golden yellow with a wonderful white head and smells of spices and fresh garden, and at times I may pick up some orange tastes. It finishes drier than the beers I mentioned above. I think it will be great. That beer is at Coaltrain’s. Or I might fill up a growler of Trinity Brewing’s Peche Noir Saison or maybe even Trinity’s Walloon Saison, which is currently a pumpkin spice version of the style. Another good pumpkin beer, if you didn’t pick up the Venetucci Ale from Bristol, is BJ’s Pumpkin Spice Beer, although it’s not Belgian, it would likely be a good spice beer to compliment the dinner.

Beer With Desert:
When you find the right beer to go with a dessert it can really be heavenly. I’ve found that, generally speaking, darker and heavier beer pair really well with pies, crumbles, and even ice cream. Although I can usually only do 4oz of the beer because I’m so full by then. I recommend something that is complex, something that will have some chocolate notes, and some dark fruits hidden in there. I very highly recommend the Great Divide Smoked Baltic Porter for this, which comes in 22oz bottles. Great Divide is from Denver, if you want something more local, try Bristol Brewing’s Old 23 Barleywine, which was just released yesterday and is a little darker than most barleywines I’m used to, but will provide some good complementary flavors without being as thick as a porter or stout. It’s too bad Trinity’s Baltic Porter won’t be released until after Thanksgiving. You could also try Phantom Canyon’s PC Breakfast, an oatmeal and coffee stout that will definitely balance any warm apple or pumpkin pie, or go right along with warm brownies. Then on a totally different note, if you don’t want dark and heavy, it may be worth calling up Rocky Mountain Brewing in eastern Colorado Springs to see if they still have the Rocky Mountain Brewing Peach Ale. This beer has an amazing peach aroma and flavor that will rock you if you love peaches.

Feel free to let me know what you try out!

Written By

Eric teaches art, loves being outdoors, and organizes beer events around the country. He founded Focus on the Beer and Beers Made By Walking.

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