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We Asked Bartenders For The One Beer To Pair With Thanksgiving Dinner

If you’re anything like us, you’ll have more than enough choices to wash down your Thanksgiving feast. From bourbon to beer to — oh, we suppose — water, you have a lot of choices to pair with that roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and all the other seasonal goodness the holiday brings.

There are no bad picks here, of course, but damn if beer isn’t extra delicious this time of year. IPAs, stouts, porters, and amber ales — we dig them all. Which led us to wonder: What if you could only pick one beer to pair with this year’s Thanksgiving festivities? Which would it be and how would you decide?

“If I could only have one beer with Thanksgiving dinner it would be North Coast’s Scrimshaw,” says Melissa Crisafulli, Bartender at Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette in Monterey County, California. “Mainly because I want something flavorful with medium hops, but light enough I can eat as much as I want.”

That’s a solid pick, for sure, but with all the beer choices, we decided to widen the net a little further. In the end, we asked 2o of our favorite bartenders to tell us their go-to beers to pair with Thanksgiving dinner.

Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale

Cole Newton, bartender Twelve Mile Limit in New Orleans

If you just get one beer to go with a big Thanksgiving dinner, something malty, easygoing, and versatile is the way to go. Boont Amber Ale, from Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Mendocino, is right in the sweet spot, so to speak. Its rich caramel flavors should pair well with candied yams, smoky meats, thick gravies, buttery beans, and all of the staples. It’s not so hoppy that it’ll dominate your palate or so strong that you’ll be on the floor before dessert.

Peak Organic Fresh Cut

Drew Hairston, beverage manager at Dirty Habit in Washington, DC

I would need a very light and possibly dry-hopped beer to pair with my Thanksgiving feast. I would grab a case of Peak Organic Fresh Cut. It’s got a balanced bitterness and crispness to cut through rich Thanksgiving foods.

Yuengling Lager

Danny Caffall, lead bartender at The Mansion Bar in Dallas, Texas

When it comes to pairing beer with Thanksgiving foods, I like Yuengling Lager. It’s as old as Thanksgiving itself and America’s oldest brewery. I prefer a tasty American lager over those other hopped up microbrews any day.

pFriem Cognac Barrel Aged Belgian Style Dark

Kyle Ritchie, bar manager at Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, Oregon

Pfriem makes an amazing Cognac Barrel Aged Belgian Style Dark ale, that would be a perfect pairing with everything thanksgiving related.

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

Taha Ismail, bar manager at the Round Robin Bar in Washington, D.C.

For Thanksgiving, you have to grab a sixer of Schlafly Pumpkin Ale from St Louis, Missouri. It’s fruity with cinnamon, clove and nutmeg notes. It’s like a slice of pumpkin pie in a bottle.

Burial Extinction of Useless Light

Matt Catchpole, general manager at Terra in Columbia, South Carolina

I recently stumbled upon the Burial Brewing ‘Extinction of Useless Light.” If I had to pick just one for my Thanksgiving meal, that would definitely be it. It’s a 12% Rum Barrel Aged Quadruple Sour that does some of the same things Cru Beaujolais does for your palate (at about the same ABV), but also has a crazy richness and depth.

Odell 90 Schilling Ale

Devon Daley, bar manager at Sternewirth in San Antonio

For me, this is one of my all-around go-to beers. Odell 90 Schilling Ale. This beer is just a fantastic option that feels great for fall and goes well with many of the flavors that show up on your Thanksgiving table.

Golden Road Wolf Pup

Tony Gonzales, lead bartender at District in Los Angeles

For a Thanksgiving beer, I’d recommend Golden Road’s Wolf Pup Session IPA. It has light hops and a citrus aroma for an overall clean, fresh beer. Plus, you can have multiple because it has a lower alcohol content.

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde

Jeremy Allen, general manager at Minibar in Hollywood, California

We are going to go with La Fin Du Monde here, the big Belgian-style strong ale by Unibroue in Quebec. Thanksgiving is about gluttony, and what better qualifies as gluttony than a big body, high alcohol Belgian Trippel?

Oskar Blues Pinner throwback IPA

Drew Breen, bar manager at Jianna in Greenville, South Carolina

If I can have one Thanksgiving beer, it would have to be an IPA. Variety is the spice of life so whatever is in the fridge; normally it’s anything from Westbrook or Oskar Blues. So this year, I’ll sip on an Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA.

Mickey’s Fine Malt Liquor

Will Witherow, beverage director at Live Oak in Alexandria, Virginia

If I can only have one beer at Thanksgiving, it’s going to be Mickey’s wide mouths. I used to steal them from my Father when I was an adolescent. Drinking is about a feeling. If I’m drinking Mickey’s it takes me back to Michigan and sitting around with family and having a good time.

Miller High Life

Benjamin Rouse, head bartender at Henley in Nashville

If I can only have one, it has to be the Champagne of Beers. My loyalty to this brand is unwavering and it is the perfect pair to anything and everything! Miller High Life has a tasty balance of sweet and malty but with the perfect carbonation level to keep you from feeling that bloated, I’ve been drinking beer, feeling.

Yards IPA

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Casey Faden, bartender at Sabroso+Sorbo in Philadelphia

IPAs are my go-to for Thanksgiving. I highly recommend the Yards IPA. However, I also enjoy a Philly Pale Ale or a Yuengling…all of which are area staples and pair well with any type of food, especially Thanksgiving sides.

Sam Adams Boston Lager

Kristian Niemi, owner of Bourbon in Columbia, South Carolina

While I’m a Bud/High Life kind of guy, Sam Adams Boston Lager would be my beer if I could only choose one to enjoy with my meal. It has the richness of flavor, but the lightness of body that can pair with everything on the Thanksgiving table.

Budweiser

Daniel Dameron, bar manager at Husk in Savannah, Georgia

When it comes to pairing Thanksgiving food with beer, you have to go with the ‘King of Beers’. That’s why I picked Budweiser. This is mostly because I need at least one domestic per holiday to still feel American.

Pure Rain Pilsner

Keith Zintakmon, bartender at JRDN in San Diego

With Thanksgiving comes a lot of food. Heavy beers will slow you down and you want to ensure you have room to enjoy grandma’s stuffing or uncle Joe’s deep-fried turkey. Pure Project is an amazing brewery in San Diego and their Rain Pilsner would be my pick. It’s crisp and refreshing–the perfect way to wash down a savory meal.

Burial Skillet Donut Stout

Ben Rojo, bartender at Black Emperor in New York City

If I could only have one, the Skillet Donut Stout from Burial Brewing would be my Thanksgiving co-pilot. An English oatmeal stout with beautiful notes of roast malt and cereal alongside a nose of coffee and burnt molasses, it’s dark and silky and the slightest bit bitter: the perfect partner for one of the robust meals of the year.

Shipyard Pumpkinhead

Dan Schuettinger, beverage director at Oak Steakhouse in Alexandria, Virginia

I think one beer that would pair perfectly with a Thanksgiving feast would be the Shipyard Pumpkinhead. A lot of pumpkin beers endeavor to taste like pie and end up far too sweet. With the Pumpkinhead, you definitely get the pumpkin notes, but it still very much tastes like a nice, malty beer. Plus, Shipyard was one of the first breweries to create a pumpkin beer, and I’m always happy to plug my home state of Maine.

Stella Artois

Rebecca Edwards, co-bar managers at Tavola in Charlottesville, Virginia

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m a big Stella Artois fan. It’s light enough so that it won’t you feel overly full, but still has enough flavor so as not to get lost completely with the food.

Spaten Munich Lager

Lucas Siegel, bar manager at Von Elrod’s Beer Hall & Kitchen in Nashville

During the Thanksgiving feast you’ll be taking in a lot of different flavors and activating every taste bud type on your tongue. A crisp option like Spaten Munich Lager can pair neatly with anything from your roasted turkey to your gravy-soaked mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. If you really want to impress your palate, try Mad Tree’s Happy Amber. It has the crisp effervescence to go with the heavier, savory parts of the meal, a little bit darker ale mouthfeel to bounce off the fresh-cut white meat and a hoppy finish that should bounce your tongue right into your next bite.

Negra Modelo

Maxwell Reis, beverage director at Gracias Madre in Los Angeles

I crush some serious Modelo every year at Thanksgiving – it’s easy, light and refreshing. It also goes with everything, and Mexican beer at thanksgiving is hilariously Californian.

Lone Pint Yellow Rose IPA

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Casey Bunch, bartender at The French Room Bar in Dallas

Considering thanksgiving meals have every flavor component from sweet to smoky to savory, you’re never going to find something that pairs with everything. For that reason, I just go with old faithful, Lone Pint’s Yellow Rose IPA. I love IPAs, but especially love lone pint because it has a great malt backbone that helps balance it so it doesn’t blow your face off with hop bitterness. I also lean towards the more citrusy West Coast style and Yellow Rose comes in strong with grapefruit, but also has a nice subtle tropical note that I enjoy too.

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