Thanksgiving dinner usually calls for wine pairings, but in the Brew City, we went looking for beer.
While it’s not recommended to have a full beer with every dish, this guide provides options for elevating a dish or two on your Thanksgiving plate.
Pre-dinner snacks: Cream ale
Vandervort said a light and flavorful cream ale would let various flavors come through without filling you up ahead of a heavy meal.
“When you’re diving into the inevitable pre-meal snacks at Thanksgiving like those meat and cheese boards, dips and chips, or maybe a deviled egg or two, I’d pair that up with our Cream City Brix,” he said. “It’s a light beer that has a ton of flavor but doesn’t weigh you down before you really dig in.”
Vandervort also said you could baste a turkey with a cream ale mixed with melted butter, herbs and spices.
Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy: Amber
Vandervort said an amber beer would pair well with turkey and most sides on a Thanksgiving plate given how the slight sweetness of an amber complements the saltiness of the dish. He recommended Enlightened’s Kettle Logic amber ale.
“Kettle Logic amber ale goes great with many dinners, but I love it for Thanksgiving, which often features a lot of savory, rich dishes. Beer — which is ever-so-slightly acidic and obviously carbonated — will cut through some of those heavy flavors, creamy sauces, potatoes, gravy, and the turkey with its hints of fat, very well,” he said.
Other Milwaukee-area amber offerings include Quick Release from Raised Grain Brewing Co. in Waukesha and Can I Pet Your Dog? from Ope! Brewing Co. in West Allis. Lakefront Brewery also offers a non-alcoholic version of its flagship Riverwest Stein amber lager.
Stuffing: Dark lager
Hockersmith said he would go for a dark lager, specifically one of Czech-style, for pairing with stuffing.
“The subtle notes of roasted malts, while not being too sweet, blend well with the bread, fruit, nuts and celery in the stuffing,” he said.
He recommended Amorphic’s Weakly Interacting Minor Particles. Lakefront’s Eastside Dark is another Milwaukee dark lager option, but of a Bavarian variety.
Roasted vegetables: Pilsner
Hockersmith said he would pair a pilsner with roasted vegetables, with roasted Brussels sprouts being the vegetable he’s looking forward to eating at Thanksgiving this year.
“It’s one of my favorite things on the holiday menu, and with their earthiness, starting off with a pilsner would be my go-to. I prefer the Czech variety as they are a bit more flavorful and have a noble hop presence,” he said.
Amorphic’s CZ Turbulent Flow Grüngiest is a pilsner made with a German hop, but it still has the hop presence that Hockersmith prefers.
Cranberry Sauce: Saison
Hockersmith said he would look for something drier, such as a saison, to pair with cranberry sauce, something that he admitted to only having in a can before moving to Wisconsin.
“The amount of sugar added in preparation makes it a tough pairing for sure,” Hockersmith said. “I’d basically go the opposite and find a dry and estery saison, preferably on the lower alcohol side.”
He recommended The Heights farmhouse ale saison by his friends at Vennture Brew Co.
Cheesy potatoes: IPA
Hockersmith said a hoppy IPA would go well with potatoes, especially if you are going for the cheesy sort.
“The cheesy and salty goodness would go great with an IPA,” he said.
He recommended Amorphic’s double dry-hoped Fluffy Logic IPA.
For dessert, Vandervort recommended a porter such as Enlightened’s Prototypical Porter, especially if you are having a beer for dessert.
“It’s a dark beer that drinks light but still has robust cola, chocolate and roasty flavors,” Vandervort said.
Other Milwaukee-area breweries with a porter include MobCraft’s Vanilla Wafer Porter; Night Rye’d Nitro, a nitro rye porter by Company Brewing; and Slow Drip from Lion’s Tail Brewing Co. in Wauwatosa.