Beer With My Turkey? Yes Please!!
By Timothy Long
Beer With My Turkey? Yes Please!!
No celebration is complete without beer. It’s been that way since 7000 BCE. Why would our modern Thanksgiving be any different?
Think about your average Turkey Day. You go out and volunteer for a charity in the morning or walk/run a 5K or 10K Turkey Trot. Will you need a beer afterward? Certainly, you will. In fact, you deserve it for being such a good person. Or you stay home and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade. You’re going to need a beer at the end to cheer Santa as he arrives at Macy’s! And what comes on television after the parade? Football!! It’s almost un-American not to drink beer while watching football. And does beer go with Thanksgiving dinner? Of course! What was the first thing the Pilgrims did when they arrived at Plymouth Rock? They built a fire. And why did they build a fire? To brew beer! They wanted beer. They needed beer.
Thanksgiving is a beautiful festival, a giving of thanks for all we have. It’s the great American tradition. It deserves beer. Even Black Friday requires beer. Especially if you work for a retailer and just completed one of those horrific Black Friday shifts. The whole thing adds up to a great weekend for beer. But first, let’s explore Turkey Day and the great beers that can go with it.
We’ll start with the founders of this feast, the Pilgrims. We tend to have a stuffy opinion of who they were. They were puritan in their ways, but not actual Puritans. The Pilgrims were separatists who rejected the Church of England and everything in it that was related to Roman Catholicism. The Puritans came here 10 years later. Their goal was to ‘purify’ the Church of England from everything related to Roman Catholicism. They did not separate from the church. We assume that both groups were boring and no fun. But nothing could be further from the truth. According to Steve Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar.
“When we think of the New England Puritans who gave to us Thanksgiving, we tend to run to predictable nouns, including killjoy and prude. But Thanksgiving is a festival, which is to say it was made for fun. And New England’s Puritans were by no means allergic to fun.”
Both groups of settlers loved to drink beer and wine. The Pilgrims consumed both as part of the harvest to celebrate and give thanks at the first Thanksgiving. Although they abhorred drunkenness, they loved their beer. Beer has been part of Thanksgiving since the beginning.
Let’s look at some craft beers and see how they may fit into your Thanksgiving celebration.
It’s 11:00 AM, and time for the beer you’ve earned. You can drink before Noon. Who’s gonna stop you? You’re allowed because it’s a holiday. It doesn’t matter whether you did charity work or started the dinner and fixings for that afternoon, you worked hard and deserve this beer. And if you didn’t do anything, so what. Have a beer with the person who did. It’s the least you can do to show your appreciation. This is a perfect time for a Blue Hen Pilsner from Dogfish Head Brewery based in Milton, Delaware. A light, crisp, refreshing beer with Delaware grown malted barley. At 4.98% ABV, it’s a great first beer of the day. I’ve been drinking their beers forever and they rarely steer you wrong.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is ending, and it’s time to toast Santa as he arrives at Macy’s. This can be a very fun activity. The kids can toast Santa as well, just not with beer. While they’re hoisting their juice or milk, you should be hoisting a Tidings Ale from Port City Brewery in Alexandria, VA. It’s a strong, spicy, Belgian-style Ale with hints of coriander, cardamom, and ginger. The perfect for toasting Santa. It’s only available in November and December. But be careful, at 8.5% ABV, this beer can have a kick to it.
Football kicks off at 12:30 PM. And since there are games all day long, you will need to remember the first tip from my October article, The Art of The Football Tailgate; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Your football beer needs to be light and low in ABV. Don’t get drunk before dinner and infuriate your mom, wife, or, worse yet, grandma. Old Town Lager from Aslin Brewing Company in Alexandria, VA is a great way to start. It is a clean and crisp beer with a dash of floral hops. At 4% ABV, it’s perfect for the long haul. The Downright Pilsner from Port City Brewery is also a great choice. A Bohemian-style, medium-bodied lager with an ABV of only 4.8%.
What beers pair well with turkey? Let’s start with the amber ale. The browning during the brewing process is reminiscent of caramelization that occurs with turkey while cooking. I recommend the High Barbary Amber Lager from Fair Winds Brewing Company in Lorton, VA. It has a sweet, toasted malt flavor with a 5.4% ABV. And it has the perfect body to pair with turkey. An Indian Pale Ale (IPA) can also pair well with turkey. There are many to choose from, but one of my favorites is the Heavy Seas Loose Cannon from Heavy Seas Brewery in Halethorpe, MD. It’s a 7.5% ABV American IPA with a soft mouthfeel and floral bitterness.
Thanksgiving is over, and the most horrendous shopping day of the year is upon us. It’s a great day to visit a brewery. It doesn’t matter whether you’re shopping, stuck dealing with the massive crowds, or just trying to avoid the madness, a trip to a brewery is a great escape. Any local brewery would provide a great time, but my recommendation is Aslin Brewing Company. The brewery is a short drive from Old Town Alexandria, VA. They will be releasing their Black Friday Stouts. Four stout beers aged in bourbon and rye barrels. All four are uniquely crafted and guaranteed to please the palate. What a fun way to enjoy a crazy day.
I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers. Enjoy the time with your family and friends. And make sure you “gobble” some good craft beers. Cheers!!