What to drink with what you eat, Thanksgiving edition

Boulder County brews for the Thursday feast

table with food, top view

Thanksgiving isn’t just one of the biggest food holidays on the calendar; it’s also one of the biggest drinking holidays, the time when hosts bust out special bottles of single malt and long-held wines. And though many will crack a cold one while watching one of the three football games on turkey day, beer usually gets short shrift when it comes to the table. 

Well, not here in Boulder County. Beer reigns supreme as the local beverage of choice, and you won’t have to go far to find something that doesn’t just stand handsomely next to that bottle of Pinot Grigio or Merlot but will have your guests looking past it for a little more of that saison or brown ale—if you don’t mind.

Prep work/TV watching and Pumphouse Brewery’s Wildfire Wheat

A glass within arm’s reach while dicing vegetables and stirring sauces is a pleasure so exquisite, you almost forget about all the dishes you’ll have to clean in just a few hours. Similarly, half the fun of watching 11 guys in blue fight 11 guys in green over a piece of pigskin is the camaraderie that comes with the clink of glasses between old friends. In both cases, less is more. You’ve got a long way to go, so start easy with Pumphouse Brewery’s Wildfire American-style wheat ale. Red wheat and Munich malt bring the body, Cascade hops make it refreshing, and at five percent alcohol by volume, some moderate enjoyment will go a long way.

Salad and The Post Brewing’s Howdy Beer

Salads can be tricky because you’re trying to pair the intensity of a beer with the intensity of the ingredients. Leaf lettuce sluiced with vinegary dressing certainly hits the palate differently than radicchio and spinach dotted with aged cheese, candied nuts, and dried fruit. Split the difference and go for versatility: Pilsner. Much like sparkling wine, there is nothing Pilsner can’t match up against—as good with hot dogs as it is cheesecake—and The Post’s Howdy Beer pops with hops, soft bitterness, and tight carbonations.

Potatoes/yams/stuffing/dressing and 300 Suns Brewing’s Fortunate Squirrel Nut Brown

The Maillard reaction doesn’t just give browned foods their signature flavor; it works too when malts are kilned before the brewing process, with the intensity of those kilned malts showing up in color and the flavor profile produced. So if you’re pulling a casserole dish out of the oven, consider putting 300 Suns’ Fortunate Squirrel Nut Brown on the table next to it. Biscuit and brown malts give this brew a bready and nutty flavor that harmonizes with those candied yams and buttery stuffing.

Roasted Brussels/macaroni and cheese/green bean supreme and Avery Brewing’s IPA

Now that we’re getting into heavier flavors, we turn to hops for some much-needed vibrancy. But heavily saturated juicy IPAs are not what you want here: just a classic West Coast-style IPA. It’s hard to top Avery Brewing when it comes to clean and bracing hoppy ales. And though Avery has many you could choose from—the Hog Heaven Imperial Red IPA is back, baby!—Avery’s iconic year-round IPA loaded up with Columbus, Centennial, Cascade, and Chinook works like a charm. The bitterness will cut through the fat, the floral nose will bring vegetables to life, and the dry finish will keep each bite invigorating.

Roast turkey/baked ham and Sanitas Brewing’s Saison

Saison has the effervescence of Pilsner and the chewiness of a wheat ale with a blast of yeasty aroma and a peppery back end—talk about ideal for juicy roast meats specked with baking spices and glistening with rendered fat. Decant a can of Sanitas’ Saison when the time is right: Golden in the glass with a touch of bubble-gum on the nose, bread in the mouth, and herbal spice in the back. That bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau will taste flat by comparison.

Pie and Finkel & Garf’s Oatmeal Milk Stout

Chocolate and dark beer go hand in hand. Sweet lactose harmonizes with pumpkin and sweet potato like you wouldn’t believe. Rounded oats and custards fillings belong together. And coffee roast and pie crust are a match made in heaven. So whether you’re a lover of chocolate pudding pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, sticky pecan pie, or coconut cream pie, Finkel & Garf’s Oatmeal Milk Stout will do you well. Need an extra boost? Hunt around for a barrel-aged imperial variant; it’ll knock your socks off and send you off to an early bed with little complaint.


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