Let’s gather around the Thanksgiving table and celebrate those things that we are most thankful for: friends and family, life and health, good food and beer! Beer should absolutely be served with your Thanksgiving meal, because it is the most versatile of all beverages to pair with food. The best Thanksgiving feasts have a wide variety of flavors, but most of the dishes (including turkey, ham, potatoes, and pies) have a common tie of being cooked in the oven. Like malts – and especially the darker malts used to create dark beer – food cooked in the oven generally undergoes browning and caramelization. Duck-Rabbit’s beers are ideal for the holiday table because of the flavor connections between dark beer and roasted foods. Consider the multitude of taste profiles in dark beer, from roasted, toasty, and smoky flavors to caramelly, toffee, and sweeter flavors. Add hops to the mix, and you can count on interesting aromatic, spicy, and herbaceous qualities that can also contribute to your Thanksgiving experience!
Thanksgiving dinner is usually served family-style with all of the dishes placed upon the table available for you to scoop out your heaping helpings. Instead of trying to pair a beer to each individual dish or one beer to fit everything, find a selection of beers that incorporates the broad spectrum of flavors on the table. Set out bottles and tasting glasses to encourage sharing, sampling, and pairing. Here are some suggested pairings to help you get started, but feel free to experiment with new tastes and pairings as well; you never know what you might discover:
Turkey: This meaty main course is the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving tables. You can give the turkey some flavor support with the caramel and malty notes in the Amber or the Märzen. These options will complement the meat’s flavor and won’t overpower the dish.
Glazed Ham: Adding a ham to the table offers a new set of flavors to play with. Have the Milk Stout or the Baltic Porter with your ham. The pineapple flavors in the glaze go well with the sweetness of the beer, almost creating a caramelly sensation on the palate. Also try Duck-Rabbit’s Hoppy Bunny – boasting citrusy, piney, and fruity aromas and flavors – to deliciously enhance a glazed ham.
Mashed Potatoes: Whether you like your potatoes smooth or smashed, this savory dish pairs well with the Brown Ale and Porter.
Sweet Potatoes: While sweet potatoes are served in so many ways, they tend to be buttery and sweetly seasoned. This sweetness, whether from just the potato or the brown sugar and marshmallows, goes quite well with the Milk Stout or even the Duck-Rabbator Dopplebock.
Desserts: This is the part we’ve been waiting for! No matter what dessert(s) you choose to put on your plate, the Milk Stout will pair perfectly with them all. It is smooth and slightly sweet and goes well with the spice in your pumpkin pie, the cocoa of your chocolate cake, or any of the sweet deliciousness in a caramel apple cake like the one pictured below made with the Duck-Rabbator Dopplebock!
After Dinner: Sit back and relax; you’ve earned it. As you let all of that food digest, consider it a good opportunity to sip on a beer that’s big, complex, and decadent. The Barleywine and Wee Heavy are perfect companions.
From all of us in the Duck-Rabbit family, we heartily wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. We are truly thankful for all of you who enjoy craft brews, dark beer, and Duck-Rabbit!
PS – I just couldn’t leave you without some recipes for your Thanksgiving table. Visit this Thanksgiving recipe collection site from The Beeroness that includes a recipe for beer-brined turkey. I’m also partial to her Porter Pecan Pie and Caramel Apple Brown Ale Cake for dessert! You can also visit this insightful craftbeer.com article about Thanksgiving dressings, which also suggests the use of Duck-Rabbit’s Märzen for a southern-style dressing!!