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Wine or a good quality beer to go with turkey?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Does anyone know what kind of wine would go well with turkey, for thanksgiving dinner for example?

 

Or what about a good quality beer?  I enjoy drinking beer, especially with a deep-fried bird, (which is my favorite!)

 

Any suggestions?

post #2 of 10

Oh geez - I could probably write about this for ages, but I’ll try not to go on for TOO too long. I am assuming that, considering the time of year, we are talking about thanksgiving?

 

First off, I’m going to advocate my (biased) opinion for beer over wine for thanksgiving meals - the carbonation and hop bitterness help ‘scrub’ the palate far better than grape wine will be able to, and should help elevate the entire flavour brigade for this adventure.  

 

I’ll be honest, and say that I personally dislike ‘pumpkin’ beers, and will never encourage you to pair with them. That being said, many pumpkin beers are more focused on the pumpkin pie spices than the gourd itself, and can be a fun option for dessert.

 

You’ll also probably encounter loads of seasonal Marzen or Octoberfest beers, thanks to the time of year and general rules of beer pairing. The only issue I take with these subtler German varieties is that sometimes you are better off just drinking soda water! The thing is, many of the most excellent examples of German brewing just can’t stand up to the big, bold flavours of fruit, starch, poultry, and other thanksgiving basics. I love these styles, and have massive respect for the brewing of them, but they are often easily overpowered by the food side of the menu.

 

Stay away from big hop bombs; they’ll blast your taste buds, and make the semi-sweet items on your menu unpleasant. That means that IPA, Imperial IPA, or any variation on the theme of ‘hop monster’ is out. Also, many of the online articles you’ll find on thanksgiving beer pairings will recommend higher alcohol brews (eg. Belgian dubbels, strong Saison’s, etc.) Again, I’ll recommend against that for two reasons; one, it’s likely you’ll have at least a few pints by the end of the evening, and a lower alcohol beer will help you do so while still being able to speak clearly! The second reason is that, like hoppy beers, strong alcohol will hit your taste buds quite strongly, and might overpower your meal.

 

Finally, stouts, porters, and other darker beers are all very enjoyable tipples; trick is, the coffee, chocolate and roast flavours of these beers are a bit of challenge to pair. While they might go beautifully with your cranberry, they might not be such a hit with the greasiness of high quality poultry. Also, the ‘Guinness’ category of beers often turns off non-beer drinkers before they’ve even tried the pairing; regardless of the other flavours offered with the meal.

 

 

Saison, which is typically of Belgian or French origin and inspiration, is a good call; as a style, these beers usually have moderate maltiness, and moderate hoppiness, with a hint of spice to keep things interesting: a good middle ground. The trick is, many modern saisons are brewed to 6% or more; contradictory to the historical basis for the style. Saison Dupont, a commonly recommended brew, is a good example of a lovely beer, but perhaps just a touch strong for an evening of revelry. 

 

Wheat bears, be it German Weizen, Belgian Witbier, or North American White, are another style to look at. Wheat beers tend to be lighter, crisp, fruity and citrusy, and mildly acidic: all good things for pairing with complex menus. The downside with wheat-based styles is that they all tend to be quite delicate, and may have difficulty standing up to the bold flavours of sweet potato, fried meat, and caramelised onion.

 

Sour and-or fruit beers are an interesting alternative; Berliner Weisse, Flanders Red, geuze, lambic, and Oud Bruins all have an earthy, almost barnyard background that will contrast nicely with most turkey menus. Trick is, if you’ve chosen the wrong beer, it will taste pretty foul with all the other flavour combinations, and some sour beers don’t agree with everyone’s digestive systems.

 

Brown beers (a lost style, really) are a beautiful brew, but tend to err either to the sweet malt versions or the uber-hopped varieties. They are a good style to look at, but unless you are already familiar with your local availability, they tend to be a hit-or-miss choice.

 

 

Really, the style of beer that I’d most recommend would be an amber beer. Ambers are usually drier beers, which is a nice contrast to the sweetness of cranberry, sweat potato, creamy cheese, etc. Also, most amber beers have a nice malt base (think toasty, mild caramel, hint of grain, so on and so forth) that actually complements the sweeter food items listed above. Finally, the amber styles (and more often from North American brewers) will often have earthy, piney, or balanced fruit flavours from the hop additions. Paired properly, this will help accentuate and improve the overall balance of the menu, and will also help clean up the palate between bites of drastically different flavours. These should be bolder beers; the quieter Irish Cream and average ‘Red’ varieties are best left to another day. A couple of nice offerings in this style, off the top of my head, would include;

 

Arctic Red from Yukon Brewing (Yukon)

Anchor Steam (or Liberty Ale) from Anchor Steam (San Fransisco)

5am Saint from BrewDog (Scotland)

Levitation from Stone (California)

St. Rogue from Rogue (Oregon)

HopBack from Troegs (Pennsylvania)

Fat Tire from New Belgium (Colorado)

 

If you’re feeling posh, you could aim to start the meal with a wheat beer or sour, pair the bulk of the menu with an amber or a brown, and then finish off with a nice spiced winter warmer, barleywine, balanced porter or maybe even a gentle fruit beer.

 

If you’d like more specific recommendations for other styles, menu-specific pairing, or geographic-based local brews, I would be happy to offer my limited expertise; but Google always does you in good stead to start off with.  

 

Finally, I will remind you that eating, drinking, and flavour pairing is an intimately individualised experience; I encourage you to experiment, try new things, and prove me wrong!

 

Have fun, and enjoy your turkey menu =D


Edited by CowtownBrewster - 10/4/12 at 9:40am
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Wow! Thanks that was really a lot of good information.  It really seems like you know what you're talking about!

 

Ok since we have Thanksgiving covered, what about for something more casual, like a tailgate or anything outdoors since like I said I like to deep fry.  I definitely have Thanksgiving on the brain, but I actually enjoy deep-frying turkeys all year round.

 

If you have any suggestions I would really like to hear!

 

chef.gif

post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by CowtownBrewster View Post

First off, I’m going to advocate my (biased) opinion for beer over wine for thanksgiving meals - the carbonation and hop bitterness help ‘scrub’ the palate far better than grape wine will be able to, and should help elevate the entire flavour brigade for this adventure.  

 

 

Please explain scrubbing the palate and how it helps elevate the entire flavor brigade. Thanks

post #5 of 10

If I were serving a beer with a the typical turkey (*thanksgiving) dinner, I would look at a stout.  My first choice with this would be Lion from Sri Lanka.  Not an overpowering beer, but at the same time will hold its own with the preponderance and variety of spices in the dinner.  A wine pairing suggestion would be an oaky Chardonnay, something from Oregon.  I would suggest Henry's barrel aged, but there are other similar.  With hundreds of thousands of beer and wine choices available all are not available in every area.  A good wine and/or beer merchant should be able to point you to something similar.

 

Why not offer both a wine and beer choice?

post #6 of 10

the only beer i would add to your list is one my husband enjoys, stella artois. i'm not much of a beer drinker and most of my women friends while they may enjoy a cold one here and there,prefer wine.( i think it's about all the gas)so, for the women at your thanksgiving table, i like a sparkling white...a california or an italian prosecco or one of the spanish cava's(both white and rose') i prefer small bubbles over big bubbles so i buy one of the brut gran reserves.. your wine merchant is a great resource. ...wine for everyday tailgate turkey? even though it's not 'politically correct', i love a really oakey chardonnay...sonoma-cutrer being my favorite....bridlewood chard is lovely and inexpensive as well as bonterra organic. you will never be wrong in my book serving a prosecco....women love it!  for a red, i like the blends..apothic red is one i really like...a zinfandel, merlot or syrah are all nice on a frosty day.....

as an after thought, perhaps a mulled wine would be a nice change sometime.....keep it in a drink igloo, thermos, or trucker's mug.......go bronco's!

 

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #7 of 10

Here is a link to an article I wrote on this exact topic a few years ago for Cheftalk.  While I give examples of some specific brands in the article I tried to keep it a bit more general in case people can't find specific brands in their area.  It covers, sparkling wines, reds and whites, and beers.  I also make one final suggestion; hard cider which you can find in numerous styles from the sweet styles of the US to the drier styles found in European ciders, mostly from England and France.

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/a/thanksgiving-libations

http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #8 of 10

Thanks Pete, that's a really helpful article!  I keep meaning to read up for my wine knowledge, and I always get distracted.  Traditional ciders, like you mentioned, are a lovely alternative and I'm so glad you suggested them (I completely forgot about it =P)

 

mano, carbonation and hop bitterness are widely accepted tools in helping to clean the palate and aid digestion (many wine judging panels use sparkling water in between entries for this very reason).  They help 'elevate' the flavours by allowing you to taste individual items more clearly; also, bitterness provides a stark contrast to richer, sweeter foods, and will change the way you end up tasting those other flavours.

 

Deepfryaturkey, Pete was spot on in his article; drink what you enjoy!  Any of my recommendations will work with non-thanksgiving turkey meals; so will several of the other styles I mentioned (saison, brown, octoberbrau, etc.) - just keep an eye on the alcohol percentage on 'em.  If you're outside, I will suggest looking at cans; they are lighter, get cold faster, don't have the risk of broken glass, nor result in bottle caps lost on the ground (not always an issue with responsible drinkers, but just another bonus).

 

A few craft breweries that I know are canning these days are;

Brooklyn Brewery

New Belgium Brewery

Flying Dog Brewery

Harpoon Brewery

Sierra Nevada Brewery

 

Ask at your liquor store for recommendations as well; there are often small local producers with lovely beer.  I'm a brewer, and my scope of experience is severely limited to the beer side of things (plus cocktails, but that's a different story); if you'd like some nice refreshing wine recommendations, I'll leave you in the good hands of other, more knowlegeable, individuals.  Enjoy!

post #9 of 10

Cranberry Mead from Honeyrun Winery. It's delicious and perfect for turkey.

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #10 of 10

good post, good answer, now i know how to pair may Christmas dinner as well! thumb.gif

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