Think Thanksgiving. Think Beer.

This Thanksgiving, try to be a bit more like the Pilgrims: not in the pushing Native Americans further from their own territory way, but in the drinking beer at Thanksgiving dinner way. Just like wine, beer comes in diverse varieties that can pair well with different stages of your meal. Also, remember that Mayflower Thanksgiving Ale – an American Strong Ale we poured in the café last week – will by virtue of its name be appropriate for any stage of the meal!

When your guests first arrive, pour them something crisp, cold and light. You don’t want to fill them up, but you do want to get them excited for the upcoming delicious meal. Something in the lager family, or a wheat beer, will do the trick. Otter Creek Vermont Lager or a simple Sam Adams Boston Lager are great local choices, and a Brooklyn Lager or Pilsner would be local enough. If you want to strive for something a bit more exotic, hand your guests a Singha Lager, a Duvel or a Schneider Weisse German Hefe-Weizen Ale, or break out your champagne flutes for a nice tart Goose Island Sofie.

When you serve those tempting hors d-oeuvres, fetch some beers that kick it up a notch. Go for a more colorful lager, for example a Yeungling Amber or Sam Adams Black. Alternatively, step it up with hops from a pale ale, like Sierra Nevada or Anchor Liberty, or keep it local with Smuttynose. These beers will pair nicely with most salads and cheeses.

Be prepared with some richer beers for your main course. You’ll need some bigger, hoppier and more alcoholic beers to stand up to all those flavors in your meal! Strong Belgian Ales make an especially fitting pairing for a Thanksgiving dinner. Goose Island’s Matilda, Ommegang Brewery Rare Vos Belgian-Style Amber Ale, Allagash Grand Cru, and Avery Salvation all have the higher alcohol content that will cut through all that fat, and cleanse the palate with just a touch of sweetness.

If you need a break between the turkey and desserts, turn to something softer and sweeter. Barleywines are perfect for this purpose. Turn on the game, bring out your snifters and pour some Dogfish Head Raison d’Extra Ale or a Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale.

Once your stomach is settled for dessert, find your sweet beers in the back of your fridge. You want your beer to be sweeter than the dessert. Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale pairs well with pecan or pumpkin pies. A big chocolate stout, dark with coffee and cocoa tones, will go down well with sugary pecan pies. For example, try a Rogue Chocolate Stout, a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, or a Stone Russian Imperial Stout.

By this time, the Thanksgiving crowd should be ready for good walk. Put away the food and alcohol, turn off the game, leash up the dog and step outside. Walk long enough so that when you return, you will be ready for all those leftovers, food and beer alike. Enjoy the holiday!

Beer Advocate is a great resource for beer pairings for thanksgiving dinner, as is Beer Utopia.

-Amy, your friendly beer wench

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