Beer for Your Bird: Pairing local brews with Thanksgiving standards 

click to enlarge Pair Guadalupe Brewing Co.’s Texas Honey Ale with light appetizers - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Pair Guadalupe Brewing Co.’s Texas Honey Ale with light appetizers

While some retailers have already moved past Halloween and onto Christmas, let’s not forget Thanksgiving is upon us. It’s often a celebration that puts many of us into a food coma for days, and we anticipate the Big Meal with a vigor that only our culture can produce. The question becomes though, what barley soda tastes best with this feast of feasts?

Pairings for Thanksgiving aren’t quite as easy as they may seem. With the plethora of ingredients that make up many of these dishes, the competing flavors can prove a challenge. Remember, it’s important to select something that will not contradict, but instead bring out the flavors in the food–you don’t want your ale to overpower what’s on your plate. Here are a few local suggestions that should point you in the right direction:

While you’re munching on crudités, anxious for dinner to be served, choose something a little lighter on the palate such as a nice kölsh, pilsner, Belgian golden ale or a saison/farmhouse ale. These selections will allow your taste buds to warm up without burning out:

Alamo Beer Company | Golden Ale—This American golden ale has hints of grassy hops with a sweet aftertaste. Six-packs are available at most H-E-Bs, Spec’s, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Costco, usually under $8.

Branchline Brewing Co | Shady Oak Blonde–Blonde ale with hints of honey and slight hop bitterness available for about $6 for a 22-ounce a bottle at Whole Foods, Gabriel’s Super Store and Spec’s

Guadalupe Brewing Co | Texas Honey Ale–Braggot/golden ale with notes of toasted malt and, of course, honey available for about $5 per 22-ounce bottle at Doc’s Liquors and Pig Liquors

Now that dinner is ready, you’ll be moving on to heavier dishes such as mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole and the piece de resistance, the turkey. Here’s where it could get tricky. There are so many rich, competing flavors that it can be hard to match them with your chosen suds. Fortunately, our favorite malted beverages aren’t too picky and dining pairings can come down to preference. Here are some local suggestions in a variety of styles depending on what mood strikes you:

5 Stones Brewing Co | Aloha Pína–Golden ale with notes pineapple and jalapeños available for less than $10 per 22-ounce bottle at Central Market and Gabriel’s Super Store

Busted Sandal Brewing Co | El Gourdo–Porter with notes of coffee, smoke and pumpkin available through the brewery

The Granary ‘Que and Brew | Rye Saison–Saison with notes of spice, fruit and pepper available at $20 for 64-ounce growler refills at the restaurant

Freetail Brewing Co | Old Blanco Road IPA–American IPA with hints of citrus at $16 for a 64-ounce growler refill at the brewpub

Branchline Brewing Co | Rye IPA–Rye IPA with notes of spice and citrus available for about $6 per 22-ounce bottle at Gabriel’s Super Store and area Spec’s

Dinner is over, you’re stuffed and Uncle Jimmie has already popped the top button on his pants, but don’t get too comfortable. It’s time for dessert. You’ll definitely want a bigger libation to swill with this course, whether it’s with pumpkin pie, pecan pie or Aunt Millie’s marshmallow surprise. Here are more local examples that will pair well with most desserts:

Freetail Brewing Co. | La Muerta–Imperial stout with notes of smoke and chocolate available for about $11 per 12 ounces, available at the brewpub

Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling | La Bestia Aimable–Belgian dark strong ale, with notes of dark fruit and honey for about $9 per 750 mL bottle at most Spec’s, Twin Liquors and Gabriel’s Super Store

5 Stones Brewing Co. | Sleepy Hollow–Pumpkin Ale with notes of roasted malt and spice available for less than $10 per 22-ounce bottle at Central Market, Whole Foods, Gabriel’s Super Store and most Spec’s

Remember, these pairing are not all inclusive. Thanksgiving can be a great opportunity to share larger bottles with family and experiment a little. Keep it simple and select brews that don’t have to many competing flavors.

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