Beer is a great drink to pair with Thanksgiving dishes. And, not only pair, but cook with. However, you don't want to throw just any old beer style in with the stuffing or gravy- cooking with beer takes a little work. And, while you can drink whatever beer suits you with Thanksgiving dinner, if you do want to set up some great beer and food pairings you'll need to plan ahead a bit.
For example, last year, I didn't think twice about what beer I'd be drinking with dinner. I stuck my head in the beer refrigerator and pulled out a big, dark, hefty beer- by that I mean 15% ABV, 107 IBUs- one of the most filling beers I've ever had. Although the beer paired nicely with the food flavor-wise, suffice it to say that this beer was not a great pick while stuffing my face with triple helpings of mashers and turkey- this resulted in a near-literal interpretation of a beer-food coma!
This year, in addition to having a few selections of beer at dinner, I'm planning on throwing some beer into a few of the dishes. Some of you reading this might not be so sure about cooking with beer- well, let me digress for a few minutes to discuss a little history about beer and why beer is an amazing ingredient.
Beer has come a long way since those days. For awhile, beer was pushed aside as people made way for wine at the dinner table, but, as Randy Mosher will point out in his introduction of Lucy Saunders' The Best of American Beer & Food:
- Use sugary veggies like onions, carrots, corn etc. and even add some sweetener like molasses, honey, or sugar
- Use sparingly as you would a squeeze of lime or vinegar
- Think tomatoes, citrus fruits, vinegar and mustard
- Breads and pancakes benefit from very yeasty brews, which can lighten the texture and make for soft, delicious crusts
If you aren't going to incorporate beer into your dishes, you can always just drink it (or do both!). Being as it is the season to spread holiday cheer, I'm going to turn that cheer into rosy cheeks, and bring some Drake's Jolly Rodger, Denogginizer and a growler of our George Brett Sour Ale. They should pair nicely with the big, flavorful dishes of a Thanksgiving feast.
While I know I've gone into some serious depth about beer and Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving is one of my most favorites times of the year. Family and friends coming together, lots of home-cooked meals, colder weather, and some craft beer to warm us up. Yes, I am very thankful for all of that!