Each Thanksgiving, beer lovers opine online as to which beers and which beer styles pair best with this traditional holiday meal. While there's no wrong answer, the following is a general consensus gleaned from a number of articles in recent years.
Stick with something lighter while people are arriving and hanging out before the meal so that you don't overwhelm your taste buds or feel too full before you even start. Pilsners and lighter lager styles would do very well, but so would some lighter ales.
With hors d'oeuvres, go with something still fairly light but with a little more flavor and character, like a moderate pale ale or saison or farmhouse ale.
For the main meal, the options are wide open. You could go with something heavy and strong to cut through the fats and starches, something light to cleanse the palate between bites to let the food shine, or something darker, malty, and moderate to complement the traditional main dishes. If a beer is too crazy with hops, it might distract from the milder flavors of the meal, so consider saving that big IPA for another occasion, particularly if you're serving guests whose beer tastes you may not be familiar with. If you're a hophead on the other hand, knock yourself out - you probably aren't reading this anyway.
The dishes you serve also matter. For things like turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, etc., many feel an amber or malty brown ale is appropriate and complementary, or even a porter. With ham, consider a Weizen or Weizenbock.
For dessert or simply winding down after the meal, consider stouts, chocolate stouts, other beers with some malty thick sweetness, or possibly a fruit beer or spiced beer.
A pumpkin ale might be a nice seasonal match at any point during the day or at any point during the meal. Given the style's very characteristic flavors, though, you may want to make sure you have other options for guests whose palates may get pumpkin ale fatigue after just one pumpkin ale.
I usually keep it to three kinds of beer: something lighter and with light flavors before the meal and during hors d'oeuvres, a malty brown ale or a pale ale during the meal, and a stout afterwards. But the combinations are endless.More questions on Thanksgiving:
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