Your DCBeer.com staff is a motley bunch of jokers, as you likely know well by now. So when we get into it via email, you never quite know what is going to be said. However, every once in a while all of our attention can be wrangled into one, singular, laser-like craft beer focus. Late last week, that focus settled on Thanksgiving, which is strangely this week. Here's more or less what transpired. Rated NC-17 for some occasional potty mouthing and adult themes.
Bill DeBaun: Alright so let's do one of these. Let's have any of the following: beer/food pairings, beers you think would be great to put on a Thanksgiving table, beers you actually will buy for Thanksgiving (because I will not buy The Bruery Autumn Maple even though I know it's good for this kind of thing) [Ed. Note: The Bruery Autumn Maple is a nice beer, I just don't personally like it. I do recognize that it pairs nicely with some things at Thanksgiving though].
Jake Berg: Last Thanksgiving took place at my aunt's house. She used to work for Domaine Chandon, a Calistoga, CA winery specializing in sparkling varieties. I won her over with Allagash Victoria, a Belgian-style ale with white wine grapes added to the beer. Thanksgiving means a wide array of foods on the table, and this beer-wine hyrbrid is versatile enough to pair with most of them. Though we had pinot noir, zinfandel, and gewurztraminer on the table, Allagash Victoria was the unanimous pairing winner.
Mike Stein: To steal from Mosher, "When in doubt, go Belgian." Turkey and saison. Be it dry white meat and a dry saison, like Dupont's Avec Les Bon Veux, or greasy skin and dark meat with a saison like Stillwater's Cellar Door. A dessert pairing that I'm fond of is putting a substantial porter (e.g., Meantime's London Porter, Port City's Porter, or 3 Stars' Pandemic Porter) with pecan pie. These beers also make great ice cream floats just in case you make it to the end of Thanksgiving and still have more room for stuffing your face. Ice cream buyer beware: cream and beer don't always pair as well as saison and turkey.
Bill: Personally I always bring Dogfish Head India Brown because it's too much for most people in my family which means I get to drink six of them.
Chris Van Orden: I've never gone wrong with saison. The herbal hops and clean malt match with pretty much any entree, while the effervescence helps to carry away fat. Fantome is world class and Dupont sets the standard, but domestics serve just as well: Brooklyn's Sorachi Ace and Boulevard's Tank 7 are great options, as is Ommegang Hennepin. For a bit more funk, try Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza. Or you can go malt for some of the richer, gamier stuff. Try a doppelbock like Ayinger Celebrator, a brown ale like Avery Ellie's, or a Mayflower porter. For dessert, I'll take some imperial stout (Goose Island Bourbon County or Bell's Black Note) or English barleywine (Weyerbacher Insanity or Anchor Old Foghorn). This year, I'm busting out a bottle of JW Lees Harvest Ale aged in Calvados for the apple pie. Or if you do chocolate, go the other way and try on something fruity like Cantillon Fou'foune or Rodenbach Grand Cru.
Nick Rakowski: Thanksgiving, at least for me, has always been an occasion marked by my annual effort to cram as much rich food into my gullet as the laws of physics (and digestion) will allow. As a result, I always tend to keep my Thanksgiving beers on the lighter and crisper side...at least until the dessert portion rolls around. That doesn't mean I keep the ABV and, by extension, the calories to a minimum though. For the main course, I'd stick with Mike's advice - hit the saisons. Boulevard's Tank 7 is a great choice, with that easy-pairing yeasty undertone alongside the cutting power of some moderately aggressive hopping. It's a beer that you can drink all evening. If your stuffing is on the more heavily-spiced side, try New Belgium Tripel. The lingering coriander notes of this beer, alongside its dry finish and light yeasty spiciness, will flow nicely with a variety of Thanksgiving fare. For dessert, bring out something a little darker. I'd recommend Port City Porter, one of the DC area's finest offerings. The moderate roast flavors provide a solid counterpoint to the sweetness in pecan pies and ice creams and things-that-I-accidentally-burn-but-eat-anyway.
[We'll never tell. This is what we're dealing with on staff here, people. It's not always pretty.]: JW Harvest Calvados is like having sex in an apple orchard while people throw flowers at you and applaud your performance. It's that good.
Jake: I did Stillwater Cellar Door two years ago. Good stuff. Also, bourbon is for dessert. Fuck your beers.
John Fleury: I tend to appreciate more subtle pairings with food and also enjoy carbonation to cleanse the palate.These attributes always lead me to a fruit-forward, semi-dry cider. Virginia's own Foggy Ridge Sweet Stayman holds up to the generous amount of spices that will be floating around in various sauces, stuffings, and deserts -- but still retains a good amount of acidity and tart fruit (without making your teeth cry like those mass produced ciders) to keep the palate refreshed and ready to take in the bounty of some good home-cookin'. Domaine Dupont's Cidre Bouche is similar is effervescence but brings a complex earthiness that will complement many of the root vegetable and white meat that will be around any traditional holiday table. This deliciously bittersweet cider will lend tannins to the meal and hold up well against a long list of savory and decadent dishes. While people often think that a cider will lend too much fruit to the meal, semi-dry earthy ciders like these are much more complex in flavors with aspects of the apple being minimal, making this autumnal bounty well-positioned to a complimentary role almost any Thanksgiving menu. In short: CIDER, BITCHES!
David Slentz: I would recommend Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van de Keizer Blauw (blue sash on bottle) for the Thanksgiving table. It is a big bottle and a good looking bottle so it looks nice to share. The dark fruits and plum flavors to it will add to a lot of the side dishes and desserts. Despite being high in alcohol and having an intense taste, I have always found it to be a crowd pleaser. It will also give everyone a chance to make up why the Emperor needs a Grand Cru. Word games with family! For Thanksgiving with my folks in Colorado, I expect to have Funkwerks Deceit (off its recent GABF medal), Odell Meddler, and maybe my Bourbon Barrel Angel's Share [from The Lost Abbey] from the that looks like it is going to explode at any moment.
Nate Eckert: Main Course: New Belgium Tart Lychee - Personally going to give it a shot this year during the main event. Despite the fruit, it is not overly sweet and the sourness is far from overwhelming. Has an overall crispness which should lend itself helpful against all of the heavy, rich dishes. Stillwater Artisanal Stateside Saison - Have done this in years past and was never disappointed. Citrus, spice, a bit of honey and bitterness - it's all there. Dessert: Allagash Curieux - The aging of this tripel in Jim Beam barrels adds a nice subtly of vanilla and bourbon, setting it up to pair perfectly with most desserts from apple pie to cheesecake. Port City Porter - Would like something local and the complex malt character with roasted notes make it a great option for pies, ice cream, etc.
Bill: By way of offering some actual beer advice, let me riff on what some of my colleagues above had to say. Stillwater Cellar Door and Stateside Saison will both make appearances at my table this year, as will Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale. For dessert, well, I don't really like dessert, so I recommend trying to find some kind of sour (check Connecticut Avenue Wine and Spirits). Try Duchesse de Bourgogne or, if you get really lucky and it's there, Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze or Kriek.
And there you have it, folks. Our recommendations! We hope you all have a happy, safe, successful Thanksgiving. We're grateful for all of you as readers and for our chance to drink (and write about) the finest craft beer in the #dcbrews scene. Cheers!