November 24, 2010

Beer and Holiday Dinner Pairings

I can hardly believe that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, the official start to the holiday season (although a local radio station kicked the season off on Monday, when they started playing Christmas music non-stop).

I've been reading a lot about turkey and beer pairings and have decided I'm going to bring along some beer for my holiday dinner tomorrow night. Now, my family doesn't really drink. As a matter of fact, I think they've been wondering for years where this love of beer that I have comes from. They're not exactly tee-totalers, but my mom may have a glass of wine and my dad may have a glass or two. To his credit, my dad has been trying more beers of late and often calls me when he's out with his friends to ask for my recommendation; if he can't get in touch with me, he typically falls back on his standby - Heineken (talk about wondering where the love for something comes from).

Anyway.... while you could go crazy trying to pair each different food with an appropriate beer, it makes more sense to pair the courses with a particular style to complement the foods of that course.

Start off with some lighter flavors. Some suggestions include Belgian lambics, like the rasberry Lindemans Framboise. You could also try a Pilsner or Lager, such as Victory Prima Pils or Brooklyn Lager. These will help stimulate the taste buds without killing them.

Main Course
Saison seems to be a good choice here. Saisons are complex. They tend to be fruity and spicy in flavor with a touch of tartness as well; this tartness helps clear the palate, which is what makes it such a nice match for the often fatty flavors of the main meal. Try Saison Duponte or Ommegang Hennepin.

I personally could just drink a Southern Tier Pumking and call that dessert. But if you're going to actually eat yours, barleywines make a nice pairing. These are big, malty, alcohol-y beers. Try Great Divide Old Ruffian or Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale.

Of course there are many different beers that you can try and I've listed only a very few. The point is to have fun with it. Try something new - but try a beer this year! I know that's what I'll be drinking.

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