I’ve done two posts on this topic before (1, 2), and they get a lot of hits around this time of the year. People obviously want to bring beer to the dinner table on the most glorious feast day of America, and I’m happy to help. These are beers that shouldn’t be too hard to find in most of the country, and certainly not around Kansas City.
1) Elle’s Brown Ale, Avery Brewing. This is a rich, but not heavy, malty, but not cloying, wonderful example of American Brown Ale. It’s named for the brewery owner’s deceased chocolate lab, described as “sweet and somewhat nutty”. A good description for a dog and for this beer, too. It’s not going to blow your mind or steal the attention away from the meal – but it will satisfy everyone.
2) Boulevard Pilsner, by Boulevard Brewery. Here’s one for your uncle who doesn’t really like the fancy beers. Boulevard Pilsner is a great example of what happens when someone who really loves good beer makes a style – American lager – that insists upon subtlety and balance. It’s not very hoppy, it’s not very malty, it’s not very anything except drinkable and enjoyable. Introduce a relative to this classic American beer, and you may have just encouraged a small step toward the wonderful world of craft beer. Or not – Thanksgiving is not a day to force people to try things they won’t like.
3) Anchor Steam Beer, by Anchor Brewing. Anchor Steam was at the heart of the craft brewing revolution, when Fritz Maytag chose to renovate a crappy old brewery that was going out of business. He saved a style of beer – I would describe it as a hoppy lager brewed with slightly fruity ale yeast – and made people pay more attention to what is in their glass. This is a good, flavorful beer that will stand up to the fatty side dishes and the roasted bird.
4) Leffe Blond, by Leffe Brewery (Belgium). Pay attention, or you’ll miss the greatness of this beer. When it hits your mouth, it doesn’t raise your eyebrows – it just tastes wonderful. There’s a little bit of spiciness at the end, and a little bit of fruit in the middle, but nothing in the flavor warns you that this is 6.6% alcohol. Serve it in a chalice glass to get the most from the aroma.
5) Three Philosophers, by Brewery Ommegang. I’ve been subtle so far, but this one will clobber you. Save it for dessert, to cap off a wonderful meal and guide you toward pleasant dreams. This amazing bottle (I had it on tap in DC recently – wow!) is a blend of a quaddrupel ale made by Ommegang and a special cherry beer made by Liefman’s – a brewery in Belgium. I love this beer – as I’ve written before. There’s so much going on in the flavor – cherries, of course, but also chocolate and raisins and warming alcohol (9.8%). This is a beer to be appreciated with a loosened belt and a quiet household after the kids have gone to bed.
Enjoy – happy Thanksgiving!