Thanksgiving is the best of all the holidays. Feasting all day on a table full of fresh, home-cooked food amongst family and friends is a true oasis amid the marketing tsunami of Christmas that gets its green light when the Halloween candy goes on sale. It’s a day we can all enjoy being consumers.
This true foodie holiday is marinated with tradition. Whether you’re rolling out grandmother’s oyster casserole or Lovely Lisa’s perfect turkey, the day never fails to bestow a soft kiss on the forehead from the comfort food doctor.
But if you really want to go back to our country’s blue-collar Pilgrim roots—most of the settlers were poor, uneducated farmers—pull out the beer. Not only does it go great with all manner of rich and coma-inducing foods, but it’s rooted in our nation’s early history.
There’s written evidence, in fact, that the passengers and crew of the Mayflower cut their New World Cruise short and called it quits in Plymouth because they had run out of beer. And when you run out of beer, what’s the first thing you do when you make land? That’s right; build a brewery. And that’s just what our forefathers and mothers did; got to keep those priorities straight.
So as you head out to strip bare local stores of stuffing mix, canned cranberries and shrink-wrapped turkeys, walk on past the white and red wines at your local liquor store and apply that booze budget to some righteous beer.
It’s so much easier and flavorful to pace the day with a variety of beers that will compliment all the foods—from football munchies on the couch to leaf-pile-diving in the front yard to the serious consumption of The Bird and all its trimmings—that going grape is just gauche.
To Start: Think session and go light. No need to fry your palate early with something heavy and bitter. Pace yourself; there are at least two games on before dinner should start. Cans are good. They go with raking leaves and other extra-kitchen activities.
• Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Oskar Blues
• Belgian White, Blue Moon
• Rail Yard, Wynkoop
• Pale Ale, Upslope
Diggin in on the Nibbles: When mom breaks out her sausage stuffed mushrooms to get things started or, even better, when someone starts cutting the cheese—we’re talking the good stuff you find at Cheese Importers in Longmont, like Drunken Goat or a righteous cheddar with some hard salami—it’s time to turn up the volume and the flavor. These brews are packing a punch and flavor that will hold its own against a mouth full of aged Stilton.
• Fade to Black, Left Hand
• Gubna, Oskar Blues
• Claymore, Great Divide
• 2° Below, New Belgium
The Main Course: Let’s face it, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and rolls are not the spiciest foods around and the L-tryptophan in the meat may as well come from a tranq dart. So if you’re going down for the count, go large.
• Smokejumper, Left Hand
• The Kaiser, Avery
• Northstar, Twisted Pine
• Obovoid, Boulder Beer
The Sweet Stuff: Pumpkin and pecan are among my favorite pies. Rich, creamy pumpkin custard can’t be beat and to do either one well requires several eggs; always a good sign. Make your after dinner drinks just as delicious. Try some digestifs like a wild-yeast fermented lambic or dry mead or cider—going a little lighter isn’t a bad idea, considering where your blood sugar has been.
• 2005 Black Raspberry Reserve, Redstone Meadery
• Big Shot, Twisted Pine
• Christmas Ale, Breckenridge
• Mephistopheles’ Stout, Avery