Turkey Day is shaping up to be a bird of a totally different feather this year, as the coronavirus pandemic will force many people to put their traditions on hold. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend the holiday in a fowl mood.
Thankfully, however you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving, and whoever you are with, it’s very likely that the festivities will still center around food, which means you’ll have the opportunity to pick the perfect beers to drink with your meal — and before, and after. (Let’s be honest: Pandemic or not, Thanksgiving is an all-day affair.)
No side dish or slice of pie should be served by itself during this gluttonous affair. So, to get some ideas on how to properly toast to Thanksgiving (even during such strange times), we asked brewers around the U.S. to tell us what they’ll be enjoying.
The Best Thanksgiving Beers Recommended by Brewers
- Brouwerij Bosteels Tripel Karmeliet
- Allagash Coolship Cerise
- Boothbay Craft Brewery Steganos New England Imperial Stout
- Upright Brewing Chanterelle Gose
- Brewery De Brabandere Bavik Super Pils
- Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA
- 2SP Brewing Pony Boi Golden Lager
- Firestone Walker Double Jack Double IPA
- Forest & Main Solaire
- Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek
- Odell Brewing Isolation Ale Winter Warmer
- Monument City Brewing Penchant Pils
- Burial Beer Co. Camp Pale
- Pipeworks Brewing Co. Smoked Helles
- Buttonwoods Brewery Armamentarium
- Civil Life Brewing Co. American Brown
- Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale
Keep reading for details about all of the recommended bottles!
“Normally we host a dozen or more friends and family at our home in Colorado, but with me and my wife having all four of our parents over the age of 80, we decided to ‘do the right thing.’ So, it will just be my wife, two grown sons, a dog, and a cat this year! We’ll still have a nice feast, and since the seniors are the ones who prefer a more traditional Thanksgiving dinner, we’ll get the opportunity to be more creative this year and do something a little different, particularly with the sides and desserts. One beer that is always a staple for me at turkey dinner is a Belgian tripel, in particular the Tripel Karmeliet from Bosteels. It checks all the right boxes for a great tripel. Golden color. Rich, lacy foam, and effervescence met with a honey-like sweetness on the palate. Fruity and even bubblegum-like aromas. A clean, slightly sweet finish. It’s a great compliment.“ —Eric Warner, Brewmaster, Karbach Brewing Co., Houston, Texas
“With friends and family heading north, they want to drink ‘Maine.’ Special occasions call for special beers. I head into my cellar, blow the dust off the Allagash coolship bottles, and emerge with Cerise. Tart, mild funk, and chock full of Maine cherries, this spontaneous beer is both approachable for ‘newbs’ and a total hit amongst the ‘spon-ferm vets.’ Total crowd pleaser.” —Sean Redmond, Head Brewer, Banded Brewing Co., Biddeford, Me.
“I’ve got a Steganos New England Imperial Stout from Boothbay Craft Brewery that I’ve been saving for a special occasion, and I think Thanksgiving is it. My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the dessert, so I’m excited to pair it with this boozy, chocolatey brew aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. I’m also a New Englander who would normally be traveling up there for the holiday, but I’m staying put in Nashville because of the pandemic so it‘ll be special to celebrate with a little taste of home.” —Bailey Spaulding, Founder and CEO, Jackalope Brewing Company, Nashville, Tenn.
“Traditionally, I wouldn’t choose a gose this time of year or for a food pairing, but Upright’s Chanterelle is quite different. Upright has been a source of inspiration for many brewers for some time now, especially in our city. Chanterelle keeps that going. It’s complex yet delicate, with every component in the right spot. The defining characteristic is the slight earthy tone that can be contributed to the chanterelle additions. I would be happy to drink it before, during, and after a gluttonous holiday meal.” —Nicholas Simmons, Head Blender, Ex Novo Brewing, Portland, Ore.
“For Thanksgiving, my go-to is usually something light in color and low in ABV. I want a beer that will pair nicely with everything on my dish, but not take away from it. And that’s Bavik Super Pils. Most importantly, the biggest advantage of this beer is that when I fall asleep on the couch watching football, the lighter color will prevent my wife from being upset with me for staining my shirt.” —Jay Jones, Co-founder and Head Brewer, Woven Water Brewing Company, Tampa, Fla.
“I‘ll be doing some Zoom eating with family in New Hampshire and in Connecticut. I know it is officially a ‘winter’ beer, but I’m a sucker for the super fresh Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada. The way the brewery makes this piney, resinous beer with just a touch of body is sublime. Plus the bitterness helps cut through the fat of gnawing on a turkey leg or eating that pile of gravy atop butter and garlic mashed potatoes. Now I’m getting hungry!” —Tyler Jones, Lord of the Liquid, Black Hog Brewing, Oxford, Ct.
“I’ll be passing on time with the family and, instead, staying put with my roommate and attempting the culinary classics on my own — or just ordering sushi. Despite the different scenery, the enjoyment of suds and a couple days away from the brewery will hold up to tradition. To pair with the act of cooking, playing records, and general pleasantry in the days surrounding the turkey, I’ll be enjoying Pony Boi from 2SP Brewing. This golden lager is crisp, light, and refreshing. The clean and delicate balance of cracker-like grain and subtle, yet pleasant hop character is accompanied by a guilt-free 4 percent ABV. With it now available in Baltimore, this Philly-area gem of a light lager will be lining my fridge for the holiday.” —Michelle McHugh, QAQC Specialist, Union Craft Brewing, Baltimore, Md.
“This Turkey Day, I‘m excited to be able to spend it with just my wife at home: cooking the food we want, skiing opening weekend at our local ski resort, and enjoying non-confrontational conversations sans estranged family members. Once the turkey is carved, and the mashed potatoes are saturated in ample amounts of butter, I‘ll be reaching for Firestone Walker’s Double Jack. In my opinion, the craft world needs more clear, classic double IPAs and since Firestone Walker has this superb brew in cans for a limited time, I‘ll be enjoying its bold citrus flavors, classic malt backbone, and, of course, a tad bit more alcohol. Whether I‘m pairing it with a well-roasted bird or a savory dessert, Double Jack will not disappoint.“ —Max Shafer, Roadhouse Brewing Co., Head Brewer, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
“Thanksgiving may look a little different this year, but I‘m still looking forward to sharing food, drink, and friendly company to the extent possible. I always enjoy the opportunity to share large-format bottles, and thankfully we’ve still got a couple of Solaire from Forest & Main in the cellar. Forest & Main has always inspired us as beer makers, and our trips there have left happy, warm memories in my mind. The brewery’s saisons are always thoughtful and simple while bringing forth a balanced and complex interplay of fermentation character. Solaire, in particular, is a fun yearly evolution of a house saison, fermented with yeast foraged from the property, that straddles the perfect line of being forever unique, individual, and familiar all at the same time. The Forest & Main folks said it first and said it best, but I can only hope there is a continued push to Believe in Saison.” —Amanda Cardinali, Co-founder, The Seed: A Living Beer Project, Atlantic City, N.J.
“We’ll be drinking Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek at the Dost house this distanced Thanksgiving. Drie Fonteinen’s lambics are wonderfully balanced — sour cherry, spice, and funk — with incredible depth. Goes great with turkey, gravy, and stuffing.” —Hagen Dost, Owner and Brewer, Dovetail Brewery, Chicago
“Each year around the holidays I look forward to picking up some of Odell Brewing’s winter warmer, Isolation Ale. The malty sweetness pairs exceptionally well with the roasts and stews that find their way onto my table this time of year. It’s also a great way to cap off a chilly day of snowshoeing in the mountains.” —Carl Heinz, Head Brewer, Breckenridge Brewery, Littleton, Colo.
“Because of how unusual this year has been, my family and I are going to stay home for the big turkey day. With heavy, savory flavors planned for the table I need a beer that’s clean, crisp, and easy drinking. Monument City’s Penchant Pils is just that. A light citrus and floral hoppy character with hints of malt sweetness make it the perfect pairing for the feast.” —Sean Brennan, Senior Brewer, Guinness Open Gate Brewery, Halethorpe, Md.
“I have a four-pack of Burial Beer’s Camp Pale on the way that I’m excited to drink and share at Thanksgiving. Burial was one of the breweries I visited that served as an inspiration to starting my own. This pale ale is made with local oats and spelt that showcases citrus notes from the dry hop, which sounds like the perfect accompaniment to the traditional Thanksgiving meal. My family usually spends the holiday away but this will be the first in 15 years that we’ll be celebrating at home. I’m very much looking forward to celebrating this traditional American holiday with an American beer in my hand.“ —Becky Ryman, Owner, Wallenpaupack Brewing Company, Hawley, Pa.
“Thanksgiving is a time full of rich food and lots of it. Pipeworks’ Smoked Helles has a light, crisp body and sweet malt character accented by pungent aromas of firewood and barbecue that will mingle perfectly with the fats and sugars on the dinner table. I love smoked beer, and pick up a bottle or two of Schlenkerla Helles whenever I can. But when a local brewery nails the style like with this beer, I support with delight. Times are weird, but this holiday spent with close family and smoked lager will definitely warm my heart this season.” —Adam Brose, Brewer and Cellarman, Phase Three Brewing Company, Lake Zurich, Ill.
“Thanksgiving calls for copious amounts of heavy gravy, and the proper beer to cut through the richness. I’ll be drinking Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale this year; the hops and bitterness wash away the stuffing, but it still has enough malt character to pair with the canned cranberry sauce.” —Dan Stavig, Head Brewer, Indeed Brewing Company, Minneapolis, Mo.
“There aren’t many breweries in Rhode Island that do really funky farmhouse ales. Buttonwoods, in Cranston, is the exception. The beer I’m choosing for my Thanksgiving table is Buttonwoods Armamentarium. The first crack of the crown cap sends an effervescence of tropical fruit and beautiful funk into the air. The aromas of sweet lemon peel and dreamy Brett characteristics are what we strive for in farmhouse beers. The first sips sends millions of bubbles across your tongue, giving you flavors of white grapes, apricot, and lemon. All around a well balanced yet complex beer that engages the palate to crave another sip. With this year’s Thanksgiving consisting of my wife and two daughters and no other family due to Covid-19, it’s nice that I don’t have to sacrifice good beer.” —Robert DaRosa, Co-founder and Brewer, Smug Brewing Co., Pawtucket, R.I.
“Thanksgiving is a day of gluttony, so I typically reach for a beer lower in ABV, that will pair well with the mass amounts of food I will consume — but also pair well with the season. For me, that‘s American Brown by Civil Life here in St. Louis. Decidedly malt forward, with notes of bitter chocolate and dark roasted coffee, and a light burst of grapefruit from a late addition of Cascade hops, it’s the perfect beer for family and friends to share. Thanksgiving will for sure be a little different given the times, but I can’t wait to spend it with my wife and our six-month-old boy, Joseph.” —Chris Kinast, Head Brewer, Perennial on Lockwood, Webster Groves, Mo.
“During college, I used to bring a few classic ‘gateway’ beers to my grammy’s house for Thanksgiving in the early 2000s. Now, my wife’s family is close by here in Richmond, and though we won’t be spending time with as much family this year it’s definitely about the classics, so Brooklyn Brown Ale will be there to share at my mother-in-law’s. Its balance of nuttiness, caramel, and roastiness, with just enough hop bitterness and carbonation to accentuate the off-dry character, makes it a fantastic, accessible beer for pairing with sweet potatoes, turkey and gravy, ham, mac and cheese, pumpkin pie, and … bourbon. It’s just so dependable, and damn if 2020 couldn’t use some of that! —Jay Bayer, Co-owner, Bingo Beer Co., Richmond, Va.