Even if you don’t go whole hog and offer up a variety of bubblies for turkey day, you should have at least a couple bottles on hand. If not for a fun alternative to still wines during the meal, then for a civilized and sincere way to welcome guests.
Every Thanksgiving, drink experts are asked the same question: “What wine goes best with turkey?”
Nowadays, though, beer often is the best answer. With so many great craft brews available, the holidays are a perfect time to try some creative pairings.
Enduring turkey matches include malty Vienna lager or amber ale, which easily compare to the rich, caramelized flavors of roasted poultry and gravy. More recently, the idea of finding a refreshing contrast in the likes of a Belgian saison or tripel has found favor.
My all-time favorite is the underappreciated French style known as biere de garde.
A more malty but still funky cousin of Belgian saison, it’s a farmhouse-style ale with a wonderful complement of flavor hooks that pair with turkey and all the trimmings.
The malty caramel notes match the roasted flavors in the skin and meat of the turkey, plus there are herbal notes like those found in stuffing, and enough hop bitterness and brightness to cut through the fat in
Sweetwater Brewing Co., Atlanta
$5.99/22-ounce bottle; also available on draft at some beer bars and restaurants.
Profile: The latest limited-edition Dank Tank creation from Sweetwater, Border Hopper is a hefty American double IPA brewed with fresh Citra hops from Washington’s Yakima Valley. At 8.6 percent alcohol by volume, it’s a juicy brew, with fruity aromas and flavors, bright citrus and tropical notes, and a burst of malty sweetness that lingers into the finish.
Pair with: Match big, bright Border Hopper with spicy dishes, such as chili or curry, or try it with sharp, aged cheeses, such as clothbound cheddar or Stilton.
Bob Townsend is editor of Southern Brew News, a bimonthly beer publication distributed throughout the Southeast: brewingnews.com/southernbrew
Fall and winter are seasons beer lovers anticipate like kids at Christmas, as the holidays bring great gifts of darker, stronger ales and lots of limited edition offerings.
Classics such as Winter Welcome from England’s Samuel Smith and a host of Belgian Christmas beers join the likes of Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale and Anchor’s Christmas Ale. Closer to home, there’s Sweetwater’s Festive Ale and Terrapin’s Big Hoppy Monster.
But Atlanta’s status as a growing craft beer market also means that some beers previously not seen here may suddenly pop up on store shelves and in beer bars this time of year.
Here are a few to look for now and in the coming weeks:
The follow up to Two Turtle Doves, the third verse of The Bruery’s Twelve Beers of Christmas series is the 10 percent alcohol by volume Three French Hens. It’s a spicy, oaky blend of Belgian-style dark ale and ale aged in French oak barrels.
For the Jewish holidays, there’s the kosher Hebrew
Charming and charismatic, Buckler makes friends easily. One of these friends (a well-placed executive at Silver Oak Winery who remains anonymous at Buckler’s request) told Buckler to quietly bring his pickup truck to the west gate of Silver Oak’s Alexander Valley vineyards. Buckler was given the OK to fill the back of his truck with these highly prized grapes just before the pickers came to harvest the ripe fruit.
Innis & Gunn Rum Cask, Innis & Gunn Brewing Co., Edinburgh, Scotland
$11.99/four-pack at metro beverage stores.
Profile: Scotland’s Innis & Gunn is well known for its distinctive oak-aged beer. The brewery’s newest limited-edition offering is first matured for 60 days in American white oak barrels, then finished for an additional 47 days in oak barrels that once contained navy rum. The result is a lovely red ale with a profusion of complex aromas and flavors that range from woody, spicy and fruity to notes of coconut and toffee, with a lingering sweetness in the finish.
Pair with: Sweet toffee and rum flavors make Innis & Gunn Rum Cask a natural complement for the likes of creme brulee, creme caramel or rum cake. Spice and oak suggest an interesting match for rum-glazed barbecued baby back ribs. Or try it with coconut or rum-glazed shrimp.
Bob Townsend is editor of Southern Brew News, a bimonthly beer publication distributed throughout the Southeast: