5 beers for your Thanksgiving table

Chicago Tribune
Let us help with Thanksgiving shopping: Here are 5 beers to pair with the turkey and stuffing

Like any good American, my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. The family. The gut-busting meal. The football. And most recently, the beer.

Yes, many will probably stick to wine, which is understandable. But beer's broad complexity and wide variety of styles are particularly suited to a dynamic meal that is hearty (turkey), savory (stuffing), sweet (cranberry sauce), tart (again, cranberry sauce), and there to make us feel a little less bad about all that other stuff we eat (green beans). The best beers add an extra dimension to that meal. Here are five suggestions:

1. Ephemere

(Unibroue, Belgian fruit-spice ale)

Not a beer I would order in a bar after a long day at work, but on the Thanksgiving table this very limited offering is spot on. A lightly tart Belgian-inspired ale from Canadian brewers Unibroue, this version of Ephemere is brewed with classic fall flavors: cranberry, coriander and orange peel. Mildly fruity and exceptionally dry, this beer will add a touch of bright zest to the Thanksgiving meal, but a Champagnelike effervescence will keep the palate clear and engaged. (5.5 percent alcohol)

2. Westmalle Trappist Dubbel

(Westmalle, dubbel)

Perhaps the most obvious choice on this list, Westmalle Dubbel is a Belgian classic that boasts a wonderfully simple and satisfying mix of dried fruit (think raisin and plum), vaguely sweet malt and a clean, dry finish. If you want to add a wrinkle of complexity to the meal, Westmalle Dubbel is for you. (7 percent alcohol)

3. Heyoka

(Half Acre, India pale ale)

Everyone loves IPAs, so why fight it? And though IPAs don't match every food perfectly (I don't like them with spice, for instance), they sit handsomely on a Thanksgiving table. The city's reigning king of IPAs is Half Acre's Heyoka, which won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival last month. A little piney, a little fruity, a little sweet and nicely bitter, Heyoka is a robust, balanced IPA that will also pair nicely with a full slate of Thanksgiving Day football games. (7 percent alcohol)

4. Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown

(4 Hands/brown ale)

Brown ales are often quite pedestrian, but Cast Iron succeeds for two reasons: the addition of oatmeal adds body and a touch of creaminess, and 4 Hands isn't shy with upping the flavor. Bold and roasty, this brown ale drinks like a light porter. Adding those charred, coffee-like flavors into a light, approachable body makes Cast Iron an ideal food pairing. (5.5 percent alcohol)

5. Naked Selfie

(Baderbrau/Black India pale lager)

First there was India pale ale. Then there was black India pale ale. Then there was India pale lager. So a black India pale lager was inevitable (though how a beer is both black and pale is a subject best left alone). It would be tough to guess this beer was a lager, but the evidence is subtly there, mostly in the exceptionally clean finish. Naked Selfie is big, roasty and hop-forward and, combined with that clean finish, makes for an exceptional food beer. (6 percent alcohol)

5a. Blood Orange Gose

(Anderson Valley/gose)

I picked this as my November beer of the month a few weeks ago precisely because it would sit splendidly on a Thanksgiving table. Lightly tart, a bit juicy and deeply refreshing, this modern American take on a classic German style clears the palate of rich food while also adding something interesting to the mix. (4.2 percent alcohol)

jbnoel@tribpub.com

Twitter @joshbnoel

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