10 Best Craft Beers for Thanksgiving
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) When most people hear about pairing food and drink, they're likely to only think about wine, not beer, even though over 13 million barrels of craft brew were sold last year in America alone. And according to beer aficionados, beer is better than wine at Thanksgiving.
"Thanksgiving is tailor made for beers," says Julia Herz, craft program director at Brewers Association and publisher of craftbrews.com. "Today's foodies, chefs and restaurants have all come of age and realized beer has major attributes when it comes to pairing."
For the frugal-minded, $10 can buy an outstanding six pack with over two-and-a-half times the liquid found in a 750 mL wine bottle, meaning you can share more with friends and family, for less. By contrast, it's not so easy to find as many excellent wines at a $10 price point.
Even if you're not familiar with beer beyond enjoying a craft brew here or there, fear not. We talked to six beer experts and asked them to identify ten craft beers to pair with fixings at the Thanksgiving table, from the turkey to the dessert.
1. Spaten's Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse
Scott Griffiths, author of America's Best Beers ( Little Brown, 1994) former craft brewer and CEO of the men's salon franchise 18|8, recommends Spaten's hefeweizen for a brew that goes with lighter meat dishes. It's medium bodied, not too bitter and has a hint of lemon.
"It's great with ham and turkey breast white meat, or with a light stuffing, or scalloped potatoes," says Griffiths. "It's good if you're not going full-octane with heavy gravy and dark meat."
Price: $8.99 a six pack
2. Schlafly Pale Ale
Schlafly Pale Ale has a sweet caramel and biscuit-like malt that complements the caramelized skin of the bird, says Michael Reinitz, a certified cicerone, beer judge and beer educator. This pale ale has a "floral, herbal English hop character" that pairs well with herbed components at the table. "The beer's delicate bitterness and effervescence should work nicely to balance the rich gravy that may be served with the turkey," Reinitz says. "Schlafly even uses a hop variety called Pilgrim in their pale ale, so you really can't go wrong."
Price: $8.99 a six pack
3. Fuller's London Porter
"One of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes is sweet potato casserole, the kind with lots of brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and of course a toasted marshmallow topping," says Reinitz. To balance the richness of this traditional dish, Reinitz recommends a personal favorite of his, a Fuller's London Porter. This brown porter has "big chocolaty and caramel flavors" that complement the dish.
"The beer's roast character and bitterness will provide the perfect balance to the casserole's intense sweetness," Reinitz says. "Finally, the carbonation, a feature that makes beer a superior food-pairing beverage, will work to scrub your palate clean between bites of this rich, buttery dish."