This is part two of three in the inaugural KC Beer Scouts Guide to Thanksgiving Beer Pairing. We’ve broken it into parts to cover the whole day: Before Dinner, With the Bird, and For Dessert. All the beers we suggest are available at many of the better liquor stores around town. None are too rare. Try Royal Liquors on 103rd and State Line, either of the two Lukas Liquors or any of the Gomer’s as a starting point. Enjoy!
With the Bird
Sadly, most frozen grocery store turkeys aren’t bursting with flavor themselves. But even if you splurged for a free-range, fresh turkey (or better yet, brought home a wild one), when it comes to beer pairings, we can stick to what does carry much of the flavor and compliments the turkey well: the dressing (or stuffing, if that’s how you roll). Dressing consists of herbs, butter, and toasted bread. Good dressings go farther with additional ingredients (such as sausage and apples) or better quality ones, but these serve as the base. We can play off the herb component with a funky yeast or a yeast that imparts spicy, herbal notes to the finished beer. We can also look to the skin of the bird and the bread in the dressing for toasty, crusty flavors that can be matched by lightly toasted malts. And we’d also like a fairly spritzy beer that can clear our palette, lift away the fats, and have our mouths ready for the next bite.
Farmhouse Ales for the Turkey and Dressing
The first two beers that come to mind are the main French/Belgian farmhouse ales: bières de garde and saisons. Bière de garde is a broadly defined, unfiltered French style that is balanced toward malt with toasted, toffee or even caramel notes; low bitterness; fairly dry; and often carries spicy, herbal, earthy or musty flavors derived from native yeast strains. Saisons could be seen as a hoppier, drier cousin of the bières de garde. Often with more fruity aromas, saisons are still dry, spicy, earthy, funky and refreshing. Here are our suggestions for the farmhouse route:
- Schlafly Bière de Garde
- Boulevard Tank 7
- La Choulette Sans Culottes
- Ommegang Hennepin
Amber Ales and Lagers for the Turkey and Dressing
The next set of possibilites for turkey and dressing pairing focuses on the roasting preparation of the bird and the toasty elements of the bread. We’re looking for beer that match these flavors, aren’t too heavy, and don’t carry so much hop bitterness to overpower any white meat that might find its way onto your plate. Amber beer such as Oktoberfests, dunkels, and American ambers fit in well here. (Although be cautious with American ambers. Some amber ales can pack a lot of hops.)
- Ayinger Altbairish Dunkel or Oktober Fest
- Boulevard Amber or Bob’s ’47
- Paulaner Oktoberfest
- Sam Adam’s Boston Lager
- Sierra Nevada Tumbler
All the saisons and bières de garde listed above come in large 750ml bottles that might add a touch more sophisticated decor on the table with any wine and candles than standard 12-oz beer bottles. So go ahead and pour your Boulevard Amber into a wine glass and enjoy!
Check in tomorrow when we delve into the end-of-Thanksgiving-day eating extravaganza: Dessert.