- Mike Riedel
If you're like me, some foods tend to frequent your Thanksgiving dinner plate more than others. It's easy to pick out a single beer to cover an entire meal, but it can be a bit more challenging to pair one only to the favorite morsels you hold so dear. Here are some of my fondest pairings (with great locally made beers, of course) that will enhance nearly everything in your traditional Turkey Day meal.
Uinta Rise and Pine: This ale has a nice black body with two fingers of mocha-tan foam. The aromatics are somewhat tame—pine-like hops and oils pool atop dark chocolate and roasted barley. The strengths of this beer become evident, even though it lacks aromatic power. Upon first sip, resinous and oily hops lead the way with pine, adding a dank freshness with subtle earthy tones. The base of the beer is more conspicuous after your tongue recovers from the hop lashing, with rich roasted grains providing notes of juniper berry, raisin, dark chocolate, coffee and charred barley. Malt sweetness emerges next with caramel, toasted nuts and Nutella. At the end, the hops put the brakes on the sweetness, providing balance.
Overall: It's both hoppy and malty in appropriate amounts. I loved how Rise and Pine complements the earthier flavors on a Thanksgiving plate, particularly adding depth to sautéed mushrooms, spinach and my personal favorite: stuffing.
Bohemian Dunkel: Pouring a deep yet clear copper-amber hue, it manages to stir up one finger of loose, soapy, light beige head. The nose is a tad underwhelming; it's a blend of caramel sweetness, dark-fruitiness and some toasted-malt notes that suggest bread and biscuit. Thankfully, the flavor is less subdued. It begins malt-forward, which is not surprising for this style—lightly roasted, with notes of bready, biscuity malts, caramelized sugar and molasses. Hints of toasted nuts and dates are present, too, though less dominant than they were in the aroma. The finish is bittersweet, thanks to a healthy dose of grassy and somewhat earthy hops that help counteract the sweetness. The lively carbonation levels agitate the palate; the result is crisp and prickly.
Overall: This lager is well-balanced, and quite easy-drinking. The toastier aspects of this German beer chase away any of the cloying features of your dinner. Sweet potatoes or yams, pie and cranberries are a bit tastier as this session beer reinvigorates your palate.
Red Rock Secale: This is a Bockbier at its base, but has the addition of rye malt and is aged in High West Rye Whiskey barrels. Secale pours a dark ruby color with a moderate two fingers of off-white head. The nose has a dry, roasted-malt aroma along with a light rye spiciness, rounded out with a mild caramel malt and vanilla aroma. The taste starts with caramel malts and toffee. Chocolate-covered raisins come next, with a dry rye piquant. Hints of vanilla and whiskey follow through to the end, as well as a subdued hop bitterness that balances the malty sweetness in the finish. The body is full, and the whiskey notes become a bit more pronounced as it warms.
Bottom line: This seasonal favorite's intense blend of toffee, pine, spicy rye and whiskey sweetness is wonderful with crispy caramelized turkey skin, and it pushes pecan pie into orgasmic territory.
These are just suggestions. I invite you to experiment at your table. Just keep away from similar tastes, concentrate on complementary flavors, and you'll be fine. As always, cheers!