I’ve been working on this article for a few days in preparation for Thanksgiving. Some background for those of you who haven’t read my on-line bio. I’m attending the University of Richmond’s Beer Brewer Professional Certificate program. From that rather large clue you might get the idea that I like beer. I thought it might be interesting to see what kind of recipes are out there using beer for a Thanksgiving dinner. Along the way I found some interesting pairings as well. If you like beer and cooking as much as I do you may find this helpful.
My class has just begun a four week module and the president and co-founder of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Eric McKay is the instructor. If you are ever in the Richmond area, do yourself a favor and stop by Hardywood. Our latest assignment takes us down the road of dissecting the who, what, how and why of a select beer. Mine happens to be a South German-Style Weizenbock. Part of the work includes finding ideal food pairings and that fits perfectly into this article.
If by any chance you were thinking we sat around and drank beer for each class, well, you’d miss the mark. Now, we have had our fair share of sampling. But that might be misleading. In one module we sampled six ‘bad’ beers and endeavored to figure out what was wrong with them. Don’t let anyone fool you when they say, ‘there are no bad beers’. Yes, yes there are and I’ve tasted a few of them.
We’ll start with Thanksgiving dinner recipes that include beer. There are multiple sources and I chose to head over to the American Homebrewers Association website. I found an article entitled, ‘8 Thanksgiving Recipes that Incorporate Beer’ written by Millie Shamburger. Millie is the Business Programs Coordinator for the Brewers Association and just happens to like beer, too.
It all starts with ‘The Tipsy Turkey’ featuring a well-soaked bird (48 hours) using a winter seasonal. The recipe is courtesy of Executive Chef, Sean Z. Paxton, the Homebrew Chef. You’ve never cooked with beer? You are in for a pleasant surprise. The meat will be flavorful, moist and you’ll wonder why you’ve never done this before.
We move on to the stuffing which breaks with tradition. The ‘White Rascal Turkey Stuffing’ features an Avery Brewing Belgian-style witbier called, what else, White Rascal. The unfiltered white ale features Curacao orange peel and coriander that gives the stuffing a hint of citrus. Unless you live in Colorado or have access to Avery where you live you’ll have to find a similar beer or let your creative juices kick in when selecting a replacement beer.
Since we’re loading up on carbs, how about Ranger IPA & Basil Mashed Potatoes? This recipe, from BeerCraving.com, features New Belgium’s Ranger IPA which should be available at most beer-centric stores. Pro tip: substitute buttermilk for the milk for utter decadence. It’s Thanksgiving dinner. Live a little.
This next dish can be served with dinner or stand alone as finger food prior to sitting down. Beer-Battered Green Beans with Tarragon Aioli is a fresh, crunchy dish featuring pale ale. The recipe comes to us courtesy of Noble Pig Vineyard. Personally, I’m not a fan of green beans but this dish may bring me over to the dark side.
What would the holidays be without cranberries? From a recipe featured in, ‘The Christmas Table’ by Diane Morgan comes Lisa Morrison’s Cranbeery Relish. Nothing quite like a beer pun. This recipe uses a lambic which captures the balance between sour and sweet. The cranberries are not only great as a side. You’ll find this relish is superb for spreading on hot bread right out of the oven.
This next recipe caught my eye as I’ve gotten into making pies for our Thanksgiving get-together. The ten-hour trip usually forces my hand into making either/or apple and cherry. I’m big into experimenting so this recipe from Brauista featuring Samuel Adams Boston Lager is on the agenda. Cheddar Beer Crust Apple Pie combines three favorites, apples, cheese and beer into a warm, delicious treat that everyone will want more of, so bake two.
Where would we be without pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving? This recipe, created by BeerFM and shared by Meghan Storey is Lakefront Pumpkin Lager Pie with Chocolate-Caramel Sauce. For this recipe I’m opting for two Hardywood releases that are being released. Take your pick of Gingerbread Stout or Christmas Pancakes to work into your version of pumpkin pie. Both will make a richer, flavorful version.
Beer Pairings – American Homebrewers Association
With the menu that has been laid out for you above the perfect beer to accentuate each item is a Belgian Dubbel. It’s rich and complex without being too sweet. It will compliment the turkey, potatoes and cranberries.
What if the table is set with deep fried Turkey, bacon, cornbread, cranberries, sweet potatoes and finished off with pecan pie? Then an American Brown Ale is the perfect beer.
Should you be serving herb crusted Turkey with gravy, fresh baked rolls, mashed potatoes, green been casserole, mac ‘n cheese and apple pie you’ll want a Belgian Golden Strong Ale.
Here are a few other suggestions –
Berliner Weisse with cranberry sauce
Amber Ale with mushroom and bacon stuffing
Biere de Garde with sweet potatoes
Russian Imperial Stout with pumpkin pie
Milk Stout with pecan pie
Dunkelweizen with apple pie
I hope you enjoy the adventures in cooking for Thanksgiving dinner and that the pairings meet with your approval. Cheers.
Jim Quist is Managing Editor of ACC Nation and Co-Host of ACC Nation Podcast. He’s a member of NSMA (National Sports Media Association), FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and USBWA (U.S. Basketball Writers Association). He is enrolled in the Beer Brewer Professional Certificate program at the University of Richmond. Follow him on Twitter @ACCTheQ