In order to best pair beers for Thanksgiving, we rustled up an early-November Friendsgiving meal and rolled out some (mostly) Lone Star offerings.
With temperatures hovering about 65 degrees on a recent weeknight, lighter, crisper, fruitier beers were in order to the balance hearty, fatty, carby Thanksgiving feast.
Real Ale makes a fantastic cranberry gose (4 percent ABV) that will be perfect even if your Thanksgiving ends up warmer than expected. The brewery, based in Blanco, offers a lime gose in the summer that’s a little Sprite-ish for my taste, but the cranberry version is light, a bit tart, not overly sweet, while remaining supremely drinkable. The grapefruit-tinted beer highlighted some of the savory flavors of the turkey and dressing, and enhanced the cranberry sauce on the plate.
A saison can also be crisp enough to pair with the rich flavors of the holiday, and Künstler in Southtown pours a great one. The Murdoch Saison (7.1 percent ABV) is named for the guest recipe’s owner, homebrew winner Jason Murdoch. The brew is citrusy and floral, and the light sweetness plays well against the rich flavors of the turkey.
The fruitiness of certain Belgian styles can also work well with the heartiness of the meal. Though billed as a summer beer, Freetail Rye Wit (4.9 percent ABV) finishes with some nice orangey flavors that balanced turkey and dressing nicely. Besides, we all know it could be 80 degrees on any given San Antonio Thanksgiving. This time of year, it’s easiest to pick up this brew as part of the Freetail Mix Variety Pack ($17.47/12 12-ounce cans, H-E-B). Künstler also pours a Triple, the St. Chapelle (8.1 percent ABV), with lemony notes that could also pair well with the bird. Finally, if you want to bring out a festive, special-occasion beer, and you’re lucky enough to find some Ranger Creek Small Batch 13 on the shelves (I found mine at Total Wine), this Belgian Dark Strong Ale is a great fit. It features figs (though an earlier release featured cherries) and pours opaque with little head, while offering both a sweetness and a tartness to complement the bird. At around 12 percent ABV, it’s a little heavier and great sipper to offer your guests with the meal.
For those looking for gluten-free spirits, Austin East Ciders has a Spiced Cider that tastes, well, just like you think. This dry cider brings in all the apple with hints of cinnamon and cloves, just like the apple cider your mom made, only with 5 percent ABV. It’s bubbly, sparkly and very drinkable with the meal.
For a different style, Abita’s Pecan Ale, Geaux Nuts, is worth a mention. Our favorite of the pecan ales we sampled, this well-balanced ale, at 5.2 percent ABV, came in very malty before the meal, but notably hoppier once the turkey was served. It was another good option that carried through the meal to the pumpkin pie.
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