Unlike your politically outspoken uncle, beer is a welcome guest at every Thanksgiving gathering. It complements whatever you’re serving, be it fowl, tofurkey, or beef (in the form of family infighting).
No one is more thankful for beer than brewers themselves. It’s their love, their livelihood, their language. With that in mind, we gathered 13 brewers around VinePair’s virtual Thanksgiving table and asked them to share (in their own words) the beer they are most thankful for. Participants were not allowed to choose their own creations, because gratitude! Here’s what they had to say.
“This is a very tough question, but I think I need to be particularly thankful for Saison Dupont. It is the beer that spurred me to get into bottle-conditioning at the brewery and the beer that inspired all the saisons that we’ve brewed since the late ‘90s. It remains an inspiration for our Sorachi Ace. It would be hard to find many beers that so define the classic version of any style, but Dupont is the grandfather of almost every saison in the world today.” — Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster, Brooklyn Brewery
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“I’m thankful for Tree House’s Julius, which was one of the very first beers I traded for and was the inspiration behind my brother and I going from homebrewers to professional brewers.” — Jeremiah Cooper, Co-Founder and Brewmaster, Kings Brewing Co.
“Thankful for Augustiner Bräu Pilsner. Delicious and so classically beautiful. This beer is deeply integrated in my love for beer and the way I make beer now. So elegant and always keeps me wanting more.” — Natalie Baldwin, R&D Brewer, Breakside Brewery
“I know it’s old school, but I’d probably have to go with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Early in my drinking career, it was often the only ‘good’ beer that you could find at most establishments. It’s incredibly consistent and has a great shelf life for a hop-forward beer. The balance of malt and hops is about as close as you can get to perfect. It’s refreshing and low enough in alcohol to enjoy drinking several of them. It may not even be my favorite Sierra beer; that would probably be Celebration Ale. But I’m forever grateful for what Pale Ale has done for our industry.” — Jeremy Kosmicki, Brewmaster, Founders Brewing Co.
“I fell in love with Scratch Brewing’s foraged beers on a trip down to southern Illinois to visit my girlfriend’s family a few years ago. My girlfriend’s aunt surprised me with a whole case of its Blackberry Lavender two Christmases ago — and I’m still hanging onto a few bottles in my cellar. I try to crack open a bottle or two for special occasions. Blackberry Lavender is brewed without hops, bittered and flavored with southern Illinois-grown blackberries and lavender, and fermented with Scratch’s house-mixed culture. It’s still tasting as bright as ever.” — Matt Sampson, Brand Manager, Hacienda Beer Co.
“I’m most thankful for Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. This IPA was one of the first to ignite my passion for craft beer. The Centennial hops give it beautiful citrus and pine notes that perfectly balance themselves with the malt backbone of the beer. If I see Two Hearted on a tap list, I know what I’m getting.” — Lee Lord, Brewer, Cambridge Brewing Company
“I’m thankful for Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Biére. I absolutely love the complexity of this light-bodied saison. I really admire that Jolly Pumpkin was a path paver in American oak-aged farmhouse beers, and was a huge influence on some of the beers my brewery makes today. Subtle oak flavors with a beautiful Brettanomyces expression and light citrus tartness. What’s not to like about that?” — Shaun Kalis, Brewer and Co-Owner, Ruse Brewing
“Without Allagash White, there likely isn’t an Allagash Brewing, and we’re incredibly thankful for what those folks have done for the industry in the Northeast and beyond. Their commitment to balanced and nuanced beers has been unflinching (see Hoppy Table Beer). At the same time, they’ve managed to innovate in a number of ways, including leading the charge of spontaneous brewing here in the U.S. When you open a White you can’t help but think about all of that — it elevates an already outstanding beer.” — Zack Adams, Owner and Brewer, Fox Farm Brewery
“I’m most thankful for and inspired by dank and delicious IPAs, most notably, as of late, Broadcasting Live, a hazy double from Monkish. I’ve never met an IPA showcasing Nelson Sauvin hops better than this one — except maybe the California brewer’s Foggy Window.” — Marcus Wunderle, Co-Owner and Brewer, Baa Baa Brewhouse
“I’m thankful for Duchesse de Bourgogne. I love this Flanders red for being refreshing as f*ck and complex, yet approachable enough for almost all palates. It’s my go-to beer for people who want to try sours but have not yet.” — Jared Lewinski, Head Brewer, Listermann Brewing Company
“Around Thanksgiving time, I’m thankful for Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. All year long, we spend our time designing, brewing, and drinking hop-forward beers with little malt presence — and that’s the way we like it! But every November, I look forward to that fresh batch of Celebration. The old-school hop profile of pine, resin, and grapefruit combined with sweet caramel malt and a snappy bitterness is a perfect reminder that some recipes are timeless.” — Steve Luke, Founder and Head Brewer, Cloudburst Brewing
“If I had to choose one beer that I’m most thankful for, I’d have to say Saison Dupont. Saison Dupont was not only an eye-opening beer for me but the beer that inspired me to start Mystic Brewery. It has incredible aroma and flavor, the way it is made is fascinating, and it’s perfect with almost any meal. Even turkey.” — Bryan Greenhagen, Founder, Mystic Brewery
“As a native Californian, I’m grateful for Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which I first tried in 1986 while in college at UCSB. My housemate’s friend drove down a couple cases from Chico (along with a fair amount of Northern California green bud, ahem) and I became an instant convert. The green label and consistently great taste are touchstones of my youth, but now what I admire most about Sierra Nevada is their leadership on sustainability and their commitment (which we share) to promoting the importance of INDEPENDENT craft beer in this era of corporate beer takeovers. Sierra Nevada is the West Coast’s pioneer craft brewery and continues to be a pillar of the exploding craft-beer industry. Ubiquitous and delicious, Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is like an old friend — always there when you need it.” — Sara Nelson, Co-Founder and Co-Owner, Fremont Brewing