Friday, November 20, 2015

Thankful for Beer

After Oktoberfest, which isn't really a nationally recognized holiday (yet), I think Thanksgiving may be the greatest holiday in America. I would go with Christmas, because, well, Christmas is awesome, but it's not really a holiday that everyone can celebrate. (I mean, everyone could celebrate Christmas, but I imagine it makes non-Christians feel a bit strange. Of course, it's really just a winter solstice celebration re-appropriated by the Church to appease those wild Saxons anyways...)

Thanksgiving is not a religion-specific holiday, not particularly patriotic or nationalistic, and not specific to any group of people. Because of this, I think we can all agree that Thanksgiving is awesome. You'd have to be a pretty hardcore cynic to disparage being thankful for stuff. Also, eating and drinking too much and being with family (maybe too much also). And here's the other reason Thanksgiving is awesome--it's the perfect holiday for beer.


There are several reason for this--first is that Thanksgiving food doesn't really lend itself to pairing with wine or cocktails. It can be done, but beer provides a much better compliment to the food on the turkey table. Being a bit liquored up also helps you to take your crazy uncle's conspiracy theories in stride (yes, we all have one). Of course, Thanksgiving is an all day drinking affair, which is best managed with beer. And the final, and possibly best reason you should be drinking alcohol regardless of the vehicle--it helps keeps you from overeating so damned much. I shit you not--drinking alcohol with a meal has been scientifically proven to make you feel fuller for longer, reducing the chance that you're going back for that third slice of pumpkin pie. Or pecan pie. Mmmmm....pecan pie.

Santa Fe Java Stout
The point is, we need alcohol to manage this great holiday, and beer is the best fit. I, for one, will most definitely need to stay liquored up all day. In fact, I might need to stay in a constant state of inebriation for the next week. We're hosting Thanksgiving at our house for the first time ever, and 25 people are showing up (that we know of). Compound this with a sick 11-month old baby who is at home projectile vomiting as I write this, and the stress levels are running high in the Aber household. Regardless, Thanksgiving will be great.

Now, if you don't already have your beer plan mapped out, allow me to humbly present my strategy:

Pre-Game. 

I need to have a buzz on before all the people start showing up, but I'm also going to need a morning pick-me-up, so I'm starting with some coffee imperial stout. My go-to these days for a great, reasonably priced, and easy to find coffee stout is Santa Fe Java Stout. It's the perfect breakfast beer. Of course, there's tons of other options out there, and if I was rich and had a personal assistant (or the ability to plan more than 3 days ahead), I would probably be drinking Prairie Bomb! or Epic Big Bad Baptist for breakfast. But that clearly isn't happening at this point this year.

Dinner--Kickoff. 

Ba ba black sheep, have you any beer?
I'm probably going to start my dinner off with something rich and dark, but not overly sweet or heavy. I haven't made up a mind on what beer exactly this is going to be, but I love American Brown Ales and Schwarzbier for the task. They perfectly compliment the turkey table food flavors, and they have a balanced, dry finish that's going to keep you going. My favorite browns around are Avery Ellie's Brown, Civil Life Brown, and 4-Hands Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown. If I'm going with Schwarzbier, it's got to be Uinta Baba Black Lager.

Dinner--Second Half. 

By the time we're passing the food around for the second time, I've got to have something a little lighter if I'm going to have any hope of making it to dessert. It's got to be something spritzy and tart. Lambics are usually too sour for the task--if I took a sip of lambic after a mouthful of cranberries, my mouth might implode. So, lactic soured beers like Berliner Weisse or Gose are the way to gose. I'll probably be drinking Boulevard's Tell Tale Tart, but if I can get my hands on it, 4-Hands Preserved Lemon Gose would be badass.

Post-Game. 

If I can fit it in (haha, if), I'm going to be shoveling as much pumpkin and pecan pie in my pie hole as I can. To match these flavors, not overwhelm, and help wash it down, I like a roasty oatmeal or dry stout. The flavors compliment, but the styles aren't overly sweet so as to overload your palate. I'll probably be quaffing some Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Stout with my pie. If there's any Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat left over, even better!
Boulevard Tell Tale Tart

Thanksgiving Day, 4pm. 

Beer doesn't pair well with naps unless you're living in a frat house. When I wake up, though, I'm probably drinking the rest of that Tell Tale Tart.

Pumpkin Beer.

I can't very well write a Thanksgiving Day post without throwing in a mention for Schafly's Pumpkin Ale. I know, I know, I may have just lost all credibility with the hardcore beer geeks, but I don't care. I love pumpkin beer, and Schlafly's is the most unabashed, in your face, pumpkin pie beer there is. It's like 8% alcohol of sweet, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin. I don't think I could really handle this beer ON Thanksgiving Day, but I'm definitely enjoying it before and afterwards. There, I said it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

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