Excellent Beers for Thanksgiving ’11

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Lucky for us ‘real’ beer lovers, Thanksgiving happens to fall… in the Fall! Despite the fact that the TV and other media would have you believe that Miller Lite and Budweiser were appropriate choices for the holiday, let alone beer consumption in general, it’s just not the case. At all. In fact, ‘real’ beer lovers eschew the ‘Big Brands’ all together and turn their collective attentions to the small-batch Micro-Brews that have seriously formed their own hostile take-overs lately. Because, kids, fall is for big, dark, rich, warming beers that not only fill the belly, but jolly-up the soul. Cold evenings call for Stouts, Porters, and Black Ales; beers that have roasted malts and barleys and bodies black enough to involve characteristics like chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. Thanksgiving, in all its sleep-inducing glory, is best accompanied by beers that lull, and beers that comfort. So let’s talk the finest brews for Turkey Day ’11, shall we?

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Not all Dopelbocks (double goat… it’s a joke, son) are available year round, but this one is and it’s certainly one of the best. All-malts lead to a yeasty nose and a deliciously waffle-like flavor. This one is perfect with strong cheeses and even pumpkin pie!

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If you’re lucky enough to land a single bottle, or the now-available 4-pack, you are in for more than a surprise: inky black, rich, laden with hints of whiskey, and as warming as you read about. An excellent choice for a cold night.

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Sadly still only readily available in the Sam Adams Winter Pack (although not all together a bad thing) or, sometimes, a 1.75 liter bottle, this is definitely one of the most consistently chocolaty beers I have ever had; rich, creamy, heady, and oh so satisfying. And a sip of chocolate for the holiday is always welcome.

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Fruity and complex, the ‘Hemisphere’ series from Sierra Nevada never cease to please. And what better choice for a holiday known for celebrating the harvest than a duo of brews named for said event? Not quite IPA’s, but not quite… not. Excellent with turkey, by the way.

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Nutty beers are almost a no-brainer when it comes to choices for Thanksgiving. They match well flavor-wise, they click very well decorum-wise (cuz why not?) and they go with just about everything, especially if you serve traditional oysters! And why not?

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Though the availability of pumpkin ales tends to dwindle toward Thanksgiving, there are still plenty of places willing to keep a decent stock. So when hunting, make sure you seek out the one that literally tastes like pie in a bottle. Perfect for dessert.

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Our second chocolate sample in the list is quite different from the previous choice mainly due to the fact that it’s a big, heavy, unctuous oatmeal stout. Brewed with said grain, oatmeal stouts are the kind of beer that will honestly fill you up, so why not have one or two before the meal and maybe then you won’t cram yourself full of so many mashed potatoes!

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There’s little point in waiting so long for the big game to start if you’re only gonna doze off after shoveling countless calories down your gullet, so why not stay awake with a Cappuccino Stout! Rich, laden with enough coffee to stoke the coals, and more delicious than you could possibly imagine. If you can’t find this one, there’s plenty of other beer-meets-caffeine options out there.

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Another Sam Adams? Well I didn’t set out to do that, but what can I say? When it comes to the specialty Winter Brew Pack -with 2 beers found only within- it’s hard to deny the pleasure, especially when it’s so damn good and absolutely encompasses everything about the holiday. Believe it!

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Guinness Black Lager

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An Irish Beer? We’re a nation of immigrants, so it works. This year, Guinness has given Americans a new beverage to have on Thanksgiving—introducing Guinness Black Lager. It’s a new lager that combines the refreshing taste of lager with the unique character and flavor that only Guinness can offer. Designed to be consumed directly from the bottle, Guinness Black Lager has easily become a go-to for tailgaters and is creating new fans throughout the nation with its light and crisp flavor.

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It’s dark, it’s rich… but it’s not heavy and it seems to match almost magically with bird! Who knew? It’s simultaneously malty and alive with tart plums, which more than makes it a dead on decision for any Turkey Day table. Wonderful.

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And this year’s clear choice, of which I have every intention of acquiring, is the perfect choice of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Could it be because it was just the anniversary of this ship’s tragic sinking? No. That’s almost too sadly coincidental. What it is just happens to be the best combination with the overtly saltiness of the meal and the best pairing with whatever pie happens to be available. It’s a Porter, so it’s dark, but not nearly as heavy as most Stouts, and it’s comforting. Trust me: even your ‘Buds’ will love it.

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