Relax, Have a Beer. It's Only Thanksgiving!

I write a beer column for a weekly community newspaper here in Long Beach, the Grunion Gazette. And last week, I wrote about which beers go well with each course of the Thanksgiving meal.

That column focused on craft breweries from the LA/Orange County area, because I want to highlight and turn people on to the great beer being made in my backyard. A number of those beers will certainly be on my table this Thanksgiving, but there are several other contenders that will make the list, too. 

Luckily for me I come from a many branched family tree and, as result, celebrate two, sometimes three Thanksgivings, and that means more beer for me. If you read my column, you'll know that I favor saisons and farmhouse ales to begin the meal. These beers pair extremely well with appetizers and cheese courses. With that in mind my turkey day dinner will feature: 

Telegraph 'White Ale,' a tart, citrusy white ale with a bit of a wheat bite. That acidity cuts through the fatty cheeses and often the rich appetizers of the T-Day table. 

Dogfish Head 'Noble Rot.' This one is probably the most adventurous choice. A saison-styled beer brewed with pils and wheat malts, pinot gris and viognier grape must, making it a blend of beer and wine. Acidic, light and one of my favorite beers coming from the "off-centered" Sam Calagione.

Ommegan 'Hennepin,' a more traditional saison, this one will please the crowd and is a wonderful introduction to Belgian/farmhouse-style ales for those that are reluctant to try the funk. It's crisp and light, with just enough hops and Belgian yeast to keep things interesting for those of us who like that kind of thing. 

North Coast 'LeMerle.' Like the Ommegang, this one is also a more traditional style saison and at 7% alcohol and just 26 IBUs even the most finicky Bud, Miller, Coors drinker in your family might find this one an acceptable and delicious alternative.

As we transition from the appetizers and cheese and make our way to the main event, I'll move to ESB, browns and porters, all of which work with the earthy flavors of Thanksgiving dinner and their low hop profile won't overwhelm anything on the plate. I'll pop open:

Golden Road Brewing 'Get Up Offa that Brown,'  a traditional brown ale, rich with carmel, chocolate and toasty notes, but the brewers added a bit of smoked malt to keep things interesting. This one will pair fantastically well with a rich gravy and smoked or grilled turkey. 

Telegraph Brewing 'Stock Porter.' With this beer the brewers at Telegraph hoped to create a complex 19th century porter, rich with malt and slightly acidic from the roasted malts. This rich, dark almost stout-like porter will help cut the fat and sweetness of many of the Thanksgiving side dishes, and it's delectable.

Ale Smith 'Anvil Ale ESB,' a rich malty caramel ES, which like the other malt-forward beers should pair well the main meal and have enough depth to hold up to the table’s more acidic dishes. 

Firestone Walker 'Walker's Reserve Porter.' This is the biggest and most rich of this course's beers and might serve even better as a interlude to dessert. It would make the perfect bridge between the meal and the sweets.

For dessert I finally get the hops I've been waiting for, a big DIPA fills the bill with the sugary sweetness of pecan pie, pumpkin pie or just about any sweet you can throw at it. My pie will be accompanied by:

Knee Deep Brewing 'Hoptologist.' This well-balanced malty hop monster weighs in at 102 IBUs and about 9% alcohol. The hop bitterness and alcohol heat should cut through any sweet you throw at it. 

Russian River's 'Pliny the Elder,' a beer that needs no description. It's simply fantastic. 

Unless of course someone wants to send me a can or two of Heady Topper.

For a digestif or nightcap (I know elitist, but it gives me a chance to have another beer) I'll be opening a Firestone Walker XVI Anniversary Ale that I've been sitting on for while.

My second Thanksgiving will be spent in Portland, Oregon, and I'm looking forward to exploring all that city has to offer. Of course I'll visit my favorites Hopworks Urban Brewery, Lucky Labrador, Deschutes, Rouge and Bridgeport, but I'm also looking forward to trying Breakside Brewing, Burnside Brewing, Coalition Brewing, Gigantic, the Mash Tun Brewpub, and many of the other newcomers to the Portland scene. I'm sure I'm going to have a Happy Thanksgiving and I wish you and your's the same!