Thursday, November 30, 2006
After writing my column earlier this month in which I boldly proclaimed that beer goes better than wine with Thanksgiving dinner, I caught several scoffing reactions, including one from my editor. So I decided to put my holiday where my mouth is and serve beer to my wife's family when they came over this year.
You have to understand, this is not a beer family. Traditionally, the members bring wine, usually nothing too exotic, serve it just before dinner and go about their business. I - and especially my wife - was worried this might be a little too edgy for them. But I explained when they were gathered that we were trying to pair beer with the food and mix things up a little.
The pre-dinner course was Avery's Salvation, a Belgian strong golden ale I served to stimulate the taste buds. I had another Belgian, Chimay's Trappist Ale, available, and some people sampled it later. But I used Salvation to kick the dinner off because, despite its 9 percent alcohol-by-volume package, it is a little mellower than your average Belgian and a good way to introduce people to the style. The crowd reaction was one of general pleasure, even for those who hadn't before ventured into beers that big.
With dinner I served two browns to go with the taste of the gravy. The first was Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar, a slightly sweeter brew that was a nice sipper and interested the non-beer enthusiasts. With the meal, I broke out Dogfish Head's Raison D'Etre, a heavy mahogany brown ale brewed with green raisins and Belgian beets. I did this not only because it complimented the gravy but because we actually used some in the making of the stuffing, mixing it in during preparation. Raison is no light beer, but it drew the most raves from the crowd.
Finally, with the pumpkin pie we served Left Hand's Juju Ginger Ale. This beer has become a favorite of mine for all occasions because it has a sharp ginger taste but not one that overwhelms the beer flavor. I figured it would go particularly well with the sweeter pumpkin pie, and I have to say I wasn't wrong. The sharpness of the ginger offset the sugar of the pie well, and the bomber bottle was gone before anyone had a chance to go back for seconds.
As each of the family left, they thanked us for the beer serving, so I have to assume this went even better than planned. I'd be curious if anyone else has tried this and, if so, what reactions you've gotten. And if you haven't paired beer with the holiday dinner, I would highly recommend it.