Local Beer Experts Chime in on Thanksgiving Pairings

Tonight I will attend a class to learn about pairing beer with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (read about the class here).  I consider myself to be quite knowledgeable and skilled at the art of pairing beer and food, and wonder how much I will take away from the class, but I’m not too proud to admit that I don’t know everything. Always good to seek expert advice.

Regarding the subject, I decided to ask a few of our local beer experts a simple question: what will you be drinking with your Thanksgiving meal this year? I presented this question to a small collection of brewers and notable publicans. Granted, they might have access to beer that you and I do not, but their responses are certainly worthwhile. Consider it a rough guide to planning your pairings, if nothing else.

Drew Cluley, Head Brewer at Big Time Brewery, tells me that he intends to take full advantage of all the bounty his brewery offers and will be drinking Big Time beers. “Old Wooly Barleywine, Breakfast Cereal Killer Stout (both preview beers), and Icculus IPA because it goes with everything!”

Gary Sink, the Publican at the Beveridge Place Pub (blog sponsor), tells me that he plans to feast on a rather traditional Thanksgiving meal. He plans to start the day with Beermosas made using 1809 Berliner Weisse. During the cooking, he will sip on a variety of Winter Warmers (Big Al Brewing’s Winter Warmer, Schooner Exact Brewing’s Hoppy Holidays, Fremont Brewing’s Abominable). With dinner, the menu will include Boon Gueze apertif, Saisons and ciders. With a chocolate dessert, Gary plans to enjoy Deschutes Abyss, Full Sail Brewing’s Black Gold, and Fremont Brewing’s Kentucky Dark Star. A nod to the bourbon barrel, for sure.

Matt McClung, the owner and Brewmaster at Schooner Exact Brewing, plans to pair his feast with some of his own creations. Hoppy Holidays, King Street Kriek, 3 Grid IPA, and maybe some Imperial Porter. I agree with Matt. Imperial Porter makes family gatherings much more entertaining.

When asked about Thanksgiving dinner, Beaux Bowman of Black Raven Brewing told us, “What? You guys get holidays off? slackers!” I’ll assume he just doesn’t want to make us feel jealous by telling us what rare birds he’ll be pulling from the cellar.

Chad Roberts, the head brewer at Snipes Mountain Brewing, tells us that he’s keeping thing relatively simple. “Doppelbock, Black IPA, Spiced Ciders and of course a healthy selection of Winter Ales.” Like Bowman, he may be sparing us the details out of kindness.

Steve Luke, brewer at Elysian Brewing, has a beer menu planned that sounds a lot like mine: “A smattering of IPA’s while prepping and cooking, some of Fremont Brewing’s Abominable with the meal, and Alesmith Brewing’s Speedway Stout for dessert.”

From Oak Harbor’s Flyers Brewery, head brewer Tony Savoy tells us that his plans involve more than beer. “Celebration [from Sierra Nevada Brewing], and probably wine and [spiked] egg nog,” he says. “At least until midnight when turkey day becomes my birthday. Not wine with egg nog and booze at the same time mind you.”

Happy Birthday, Tony!

Joel VandenBrink, owner and Brewmaster at Two Beers Brewing, tells us that he’ll be previewing his own Winter Warmer. “Also, some cellared Deschutes Black Butte and some cellared Abyss,” he told us. “I’ll finish my night with Cascade Sang Royal or Tieton Hopped Cider.”

Not surprising, the most elevated beer menu comes to us from Matt Bonney – one of the minds behind some of Seattle’s most-vaunted beer establishments: Brouwer’s Café, Bottleworks, and Burgundian. If you know Matt at all, you know is a straight-up bon vivant in the beer world. For realz. His Thanksgiving beer plans include Saison DuPont Avec Les Bons Voeux along with “several vintages” of Malheur Blue Label and stouts aged in wood. He’ll finish things off with some 90’s vintage Thomas Hardy’s Ale.

Um, wow. Hey Mr. Bonney, how can I get invited to your house for Thanksgiving next year?

As for me, I have my eye on some 22s of IPA that need to come up from the basement, including bottles from Burnside Brewing (Portland) and Alesmith Brewing (San Diego). Those should keep us warm while we deep-fry the turkeys. I am also looking at a couple bottles of Alesmith Speedway Stout that are getting dusty. Beyond that, I’m not sure. I have some Foggy Noggin Anniversary Old Style English Ale that seems like it would be magical at the dinner table. Perhaps a touch of the Widmer Old Embalmer for dessert? We’ll see.

So what’s on your beer menu for Thanksgiving?

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  1. And if you’re up in Bellingham we’ve got Schwarz Bier, Alt, and Vienna Lager along with the regulars like Kolsch, Pilsner, and Chuckanut IPA. Heads up the Bock will be released Dec 1 after 12 weeks in the fermenter!!

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