Poultry and porters: Pairing craft beer with your holiday spread

Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Blog, She's Crafty

She’s Crafty is a regular guest column by Amy Peiffer.

craft-beer-logoIf the store display of my local big box retailer is any indication, I’m several weeks behind on my holiday shopping. The tower of green beans and fried onions that loomed over aisle 3 has been replaced by some configuration of the “season’s hottest toys.” Yes, even in the produce department one cannot escape the rampant commercialism of the holidays.

But if you’re like me and still vaguely tossing around the idea of what you’ll serve for Thanksgiving — I haven’t missed it, have I? — consider serving a craft beer selection with your holiday meal this year. Just because you stuff yourself with stuffing (no? Just me?) doesn’t mean a carbonated brew is too heavy to pair with this coma-inducing meal.

Here are three style suggestions, and a local offering for each, that pair well with Thanksgiving Day dishes and desserts.

Pumpkin ale: This might seem obvious, but pumpkin beers are often too overpowering to serve along with a meal. Spiced heavily with a rich pumpkin flavor, there’s no denying that they’re fall in a glass, however, and too hard to ignore on the flagship day of autumn. Serve before your meal with a small cheese plate to let the spices shine against the creamy sweetness of brie or a tangy crumbled blue. Really like pumpkin? Serve a glass along with a slice of pie after your meal and let your tastebuds go nuts.

Try: The Brewery at Hershey Flash Gourd’n Pumpkin-spiced Oktoberfest ale. This crisp brew has a clean pumpkin flavor with just the right amount of spice to complement your dish, not clobber it.

IPA (India Pale Ale): What is one of the most ubiquitous styles of brews can be a bit of a challenge to pair with dishes thanks in large part to the bold hop character, floral aroma and caramel malt sweetness present in most IPAs. However, with a smoked turkey breast, sweet cranberry sauce scented with orange zest and a generous portion of sage-infused sausage stuffing (all on the Thanksgiving menu in my house), an IPA can enhance the citrus, smoke and sweet on your plate.

Try: Pizza Boy Brewing Co. West Shore IPA. An American IPA that’s hoppy and dry with light citrus and pine notes. Not too sweet, not too bitter — show up with a growler for your hosts if you’re looking for a gift that truly says, “Thanks for doing all the work today.”

Stout: If you’re like me and possess an endless pit of a stomach, you can drink a stout with just about anything. For some, however, this dark style of beer can feel heavy with a substantial meal. After a post-meal nap, consider rallying on the sofa with a plate of reheated sides that will taste even better with a rich, smoky stout.

Try: This year I’m looking forward to a bowl of bacon-braised Brussels sprouts with Crystal Ball Brewing Co.’s Breakfast Stout. Infused with real local smoked bacon post-fermentation, this hearty — yet, a surprisingly 5 percent alcohol by volume — stout will bring out the salty, smoky deliciousness that blankets the all-but-ignored green vegetables of my holiday spread. Bonus: Serve a slice of pecan pie with Lancaster Brewing Co.’s Double Chocolate Milk Stout. You can thank me for this piece of heaven later. Right now, I’m busy drooling.

— Entertainment editor Amy Peiffer can be found in the kitchen cooking with craft beer nearly every holiday — and maybe sampling a glass or two on the weekend. She’s Crafty is a regular guest column in The York Dispatch Food for Thought blog.