Thanksgiving Beer Guide

William Bradford, one of the original Pilgrims on the Mayflower, wrote in his diary that the reason the Mayflower stopped when and where it did was because its passengers had run out of beer. “We could not now take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer.”

In the simplest of terms, America was founded by a beer run.

Over thy teeth, and through thy gums, forewarn ye stomach, here beer comes.
Over thy teeth, and through thy gums, forewarn ye stomach, here beer comes.

Nearly 400 years later, not much has changed in our need for this magic elixir. So, as you make those last-minute grocery lists in preparation for your Thanksgiving feast, don’t forget the beer!  And lucky for you, there are many great beers available in Arkansas that will take your Thanksgiving Day fare to the next level.

Thanksgiving Day Food/Beer Pairing suggestions:

    1. Versatility is key – So much food with so many different flavors. Find a beer (or beers) that have good balance and those that won’t wear out your palate.
    2. Save the hop bombs for another day – Hop Heads, please show Grandma some respect. Too much bitterness can take the love out of the dressing she spent all day on.
    3. Complementary or Contrasting – There is no wrong answer here. Choose roasty malt-forward Ales to complement the roasty flavors found in many Thanksgiving dishes. Choose lighter yeast-forward beers to contrast starchy dishes. Choose an astringent beer to break up the richness of the meal.
    4. Go big during dessert – This is the time to bust out the sweet, boozy beers.
    5. When in doubt, open up a Saison – One of the most versatile, well-balanced, and food-friendly beers available, Saisons will pair with almost any savory dish on the table.

Your loyal beer geeks have compiled this list to get you started….one that would make any pilgrim proud:

Stillwater Artisanal Ales Cellar Door – Appetizers / finger foods – Start out nice and subtle with this lightly funky and grassy beer.  If you have a relative make fun of you for not drinking biff light, just explain that you are sorry, and you forgot that your family Thanksgiving has more white trash than a napkin factory.

Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse de Bourgogne – Salad / fruit – Knock the subtleness up a notch with this wonderfully tart (but not too tart) beer.  Sweet and sour cherry notes will compliment any salad – especially with fruit.

St. Bernardus ABT 12 – Main Course – This amazingly complex and versatile beer would pair well with most Thanksgiving dishes.   ABT 12 is bound to get folks talking about a wide variety of flavors; the plum notes will accent the cranberry sauce, the figs and pepper will compliment the turkey, the candi sugar and chocolate will contrast the stuffing,  and the earthy tobacco, clove and nutmeg will blow you into this year’s Christmas season.

Evil Twin Lil’ B – Dessert – Skip that wimpy dessert wine and step up to the plate with this chocolate and coffee behemoth.  It may be a battle to see which flavors win while pairing with pie, or a intense chocolate overload when paired with any chocolate dessert.  Try West Coast Double Stout in case you can’t find Lil’ B.

Hanssens Artisanaal Oude Gueuze – Wild Card – Just in case you need that extra special beer this Thanksgiving… You will find people absolutely love or hate this piece of art.  Warning: most folks can’t seem to wrap their head around the intense sour flavors.  If you know a special person who enjoys their flavor meter blown up like a nuclear bomb, this beer will make you the hero of the night.  But be careful – never surprise anyone with a sour beer, or you’ll make them angrier than a mosquito in a mannequin factory.

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