If you're looking for a traditional Thanksgiving beverage to enjoy during the holiday, toss the wine aside. Beer was far more likely to have enjoyed a spot at the first Thanksgiving -- in fact, a shortage of beer may have been the very reason the Pilgrims even chose to stop at Plymouth Rock. A diary entry written by a Mayflower passenger explains the unplanned landing at Plymouth thusly: "We could not now take time for further search...our victuals being much spent, especially our beer..."
The variety of styles and flavors beer offers also makes it far more deserving of a place at your table. There's a beer fit for every dish in your Thanksgiving spread, and these are our favorites.
5. Sweet Potato Casserole
Beer: The Bruery Autumn Maple
This pairing is all about resonance. Brewed with 17 pounds of yams per barrel along with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses and maple syrup, Autumn Maple includes several of the same ingredients found in the casserole as well as similar flavors. Try them side by side and enjoy the harmony.
Also try: Chimay Grande Reserve, Trappistes Rochefort 10
4. Green Bean Casserole
Beer: Lumberyard IPA
Most often made with cream of mushroom soup, your standard green bean casserole is thick, creamy, and high in umami (the fifth taste sensation, also often referred to as savory). High bitterness lifts an umami-packed dish to new heights, so try it with the highly-hopped Hop Knot. The brew's bitter enough to tone down the umami, and the dank hops will intertwine with the casserole's piquant onion strings as well as the vegetal green beans. Peppery carbonation lifts the thick flavors from the tongue, cleaning the palate and preparing you for the next bite.
Also try: Four Peaks Hop Knot, Sonoran Victorian IPA
Beer: Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
There are many ways to make a stuffing, but the constant in each is bread. This malty Oktoberfest lager mirrors the stuffing's main ingredient with malty toasted whole grain flavors of its own while enhancing the backdrop with fruity notes of apple and peach. The beer's subtle enough that it won't get in the way of the stuffing, yet flavorful and bitter enough to build interest between bites.
Also try: Great Divide Hoss, Samuel Adams Oktoberfest
Beer: New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red
On Thanksgiving, turkey cries out for cranberry or another similarly tart and sweet fruit. Wisconsin Belgian Red, brewed with whole Montmorency cherries, delivers intense flavor that fills the role perfectly. Savory notes in the turkey are enhanced by the beer's mild sourness, and champagne-like carbonation cleans off the meat's flavor with surprising efficiency. Sadly, New Glarus is only available in Wisconsin, but any tasty and tart fruit lambic will also work.
Also try: Lindemans Framboise, Oud Beersel Oude Kriek Vieille
1. Pumpkin or Pecan Pie
Beer: Nimbus Old Monkeyshine
In a pumpkin pie, the beer's flavors of charred toast, peanuts and caramel fill the gaps in the pie's flavor; with the pecan, they harmonize and enhance what's already in there. Both pies boast hefty sweetness that's complemented by alcohol heat from the brew and tempered by its earthy bitterness.
Also try: Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo, Fuller's 1845