Thanksgiving is a great time to enjoy some serious beer. With all those earthy flavors on display, you can totally turn the holiday into a full-blown Beersgiving, if you want (or Bourbonsgiving, if you’re so inclined). While wine is a pretty standard accompaniment for any big meal, beer is ready to stand in for any wine pairing at your T-day table.
Let’s skip the preamble and just dive in. You know what you came for. The beers below are paired according to the time of day and course you’ll be eating. These are the beers sure to elevate any plate of food or event you’re planning for Thanksgiving.
THE “WELCOME TO THE PARTY” BEER — ALLAGASH CURIEUX
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The Moment: Every good party starts with a welcome drink. Them’s the rules, yo. Traditionally, you’d offer your guests a glass of Champagne or local sparkling wine. The fizz embraces and welcomes your guests into your home with a nice heady buzz.
The Beer: Our recommendation is to swap out the bubbly for bourbon barrel-aged Belgian Tripel. Curieux from Allgash is mellowed ale with an effervescence that’s light, heady, and easy to sip. There’s a clear richness here that leans into hints of earthy coconut and whispers of bourbon vanilla.
This one comes in .75l bottles as well, giving you a very Champagne feel — a great way to start the day.
THE “GAMETIME” BEER — PILSNER URQUELL
The Moment: There will be games! Whether you’re planning on watching a little NFL or busting out a deck to play Magic: The Gathering or even playing some footie yourself in the backyard, you’ll need an easy beer to drink.
The Beer: Pilsner Urquell is one of the best beers out there. The light, amber beer has a clean taste that goes down almost too easily. There’s a slight dryness here that gives way to a floral burst from the hops. It’s mildly bitter in the very best way. That’s balanced with a measured sweetness from the malts that have a real harvest feel. This one’s a real crowd-pleaser.
THE “FIRST COURSE” BEER — UPSLOPE BREWING SPRUCE TIP IPA
The Moment: The first course of any Thanksgiving feast is an introduction of things to come. Pumpkin soups, rich pâté smeared on freshly baked bread, a little bit of smoked goose breast carpaccio with salad, deviled eggs, and so on. There are so many options and they tend to be both light and bold. The beer needs to be too.
The Beer: Upslope’s Spruce Tip IPA is just the beer to drink here. There’s a nice lightness at play with the beer, especially for a fairly heady IPA. The hops and spruce tips bring a mellow, dank, and piney earthy bitterness to each sip. That forest dank is balanced out by a nice heft of malt sweetness in the background. This one really shines with anything smoky, earthy, crisp, and full of umami.
THE “YO, IT’S TURKEY TIME” BEER — SAISON DUPONT
The Moment: This is the big reveal. Turkey, potatoes (hopefully scalloped), stuffing, sweet potatoes, all the cranberry sauce, and maybe even a scoop or two of mac ‘n cheese needs light and subtle-yet-powerful beer that goes with a wide array of flavors and textures.
The Beer: Enter Saison Dupont. The Belgian masterpiece is versatile and freakin’ delicious. It also comes in .75l wine bottles, meaning you can open up a few bottles and share them around the table along with the food. There’s a yeast dryness at play here that feels like an orchard post-harvest. It’s big and super refreshing.
THE “BREAK BEFORE I REBOOT THIS MEAL” BEER — WATER
The Moment: Okay, break time! A lot of these beers are pretty heavy-hitting ABV-wise. It’s time to put the plate and mug down and drink some water. Well, realistically, you should drink a glass of water for every beer. Still, let this serve as a reminder to at least skip one round to re-hydrate.
THE “LET’S DO ROUND TWO” BEER — ELYSIAN BIFROST
The Moment: We know you’re going back for seconds. You know you’re going back for seconds. Just go back for seconds with no shame. It’s Thanksgiving after all. This might seem counter-intuitive, but go big here. Your taste buds are going to be on the ropes. You’ll need a big beer to reactivate those buds as you likely dial in what you’re piling on your plate.
The Beer: Bifrost hits that nail on the head. It’s a bold winter ale that combines earthy hoppiness with bright orange zest while maintaining an edge of ale malt bread-y sweetness. This also comes in large bottles, so share the beer around the table.
THE “NOW I WILL JAM MY FACE FULL OF CHEESE” BEER — DESCHUTES JUBELALE
The Moment: Cheese is a great digestive after any protein and carb-heavy meal. A little gorgonzola, a little hard parmesan, and a little fresh gouda go a long way with some nuts and spicy cranberry chutney.
The Beer: You need a beer like Deschutes’ winter ale Jubelale here. There’s a real warming spice that feels like winter. The beer has a great balance between that spice, a light hop dankness, and a clean maltiness that shines. Add in the spicy cranberry and the creaminess of the cheese and you’ve got a perfect pairing.
THE “WHO’S READY FOR PIE?” BEER — LAGUNITAS WOODSHOP SERIES WILLETTIZED COFFEE STOUT
The Moment: The night is winding down and you’re hitting some serious walls. Pie is on the horizon — that means spices, fruits, and crumbly crusts are about to be had. You really need a beer that’s bold and can stand up to the spiciness of a pumpkin pie and the sweetness and earthiness of, say, pecan. This is also the time to maybe share a strong beer to mellow the ABV hit while you finish the meal. But, at the same time, you’re going to need a coffee kick to keep you cognizant. That’s a tall order.
The Beer: Lagunitas’ Willettized Coffee Stout hits the spot as a beer by way of both coffee and bourbon that feels like the perfect dessert accompaniment. The beer is aged in Willett bourbon and rye whiskey barrels with a nice dose of coffee beans. The result is a balance of dark chocolate and espresso bitterness with a hint of rye spice and an echo of woody smoke. In short, it’s a shot of espresso and rich dessert in beer form.
THE “GOODNIGHT” BEER — N’ICE CHOUFFE
The Moment: Well, that’s it. Everyone is fed. The final play of all the football games has passed. Thanksgiving is over. That means it’s officially the holiday season. And, that calls for a serious holiday beer to celebrate the arrival of shopping, decking halls, and, eventually, New Year’s.
The Beer: N’ice Chouffe is the winter warmer beer all others should be judged by. The Belgian dark ale hits the perfect balance of being a palate cleanser while also embodying all things winter. The sip opens with a nice rush of Christmas herbs cut with orange liqueur. There’s a slight sense of piny hops that lead towards bright orange zest and rich, dark malts.
This also packs a ten ABV wallop. So, it’s the perfect end to a night of gluttony that’ll leave you guests ready to go home and crash — or go out and party.