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Your Beermonger: What to Serve at the Thanksgiving Table

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

Thanksgiving is simultaneously the most- and least-forgiving meal of the year for beverage pairing: gauging the sweetness levels of the dishes being served along with the palate preferences of the diners can be the difference between everyone having a rollicking good time, and being berated as a “snob” because everything you have to drink is “too dry” (I’m not reliving any Thanksgiving traumas here, I swear).

Here are some great beer options for every crowd:

For the macro drinkers: Your guests don’t know the difference between Ales and Lagers, and they don’t care. They don’t know from IBU, hop varieties, or yeast strains; they just want to have a couple pops. Nothing wrong with that — none of us would be into beer if we felt any different — but maybe you don’t want to reward the ad budgets of the giant breweries. So stock up on some of the outstanding easy-drinking Lagers currently being made right here in Virginia: Vienna Lager from Devils Backbone; Hardywood’s new year-round German Style Pils; Port City’s Downright Pils; or Blue Mountain’s lush Classic Lager. Shake things up a little with light, crisp Pale Ales like Bravo Four Point from Devils Backbone or The Great Outdoors from Three Brothers (4.4 percent and 4.8 percent ABV, respectively).

Couch-to-table: All of the beers I mentioned above would transition well to the table under the Cardinal Rule of Beverage Pairing — drink what you like, and you’ll never be disappointed. If you’re trying to be more mindful of how your beers will hold up with dinner, look to maltier Ales and Lagers; the touch of sweetness from the malt will play right into Thanksgiving sides. Heritage King’s Mountain Scotch-style Ale, Blue Mountain MacHayden’s Scotch-style Ale, and Mother Earth Dark Cloud Dunkel-style Lager could all work here. English-style Ales work, also: Left Hand Sawtooth Nitro is flavorful but not overpowering, and Sam Smith’s Winter Welcome is a touch hoppy, but still malt-driven and a great choice.

Kolsch! Yes, Kolsch-style Ales are great ‘compromise’ beers by nature; light and easy on the palate like Lagers, but with the fruitier yeast tones of Ales, they make excellent Thanksgiving options. Schlafly is a great choice, but try any of the many Virginia-made versions (Blue Mountain Kolsch 151, Champion Killer Kolsch, Parkway Majestic Mullet Krispy Kolsch) for a complex beer anyone can enjoy.

Don’t be afraid to go big: If you are of a mind to do so, give yourself and your guests a couple options and throw something a bit heavier out there. Doppelbock (Ayinger Celebrator, Lickinghole Creek Creator ‘Hoppelbock’, Troeg’s Trogenator) brings a pleasant combination of warming heat and rich malty flavors. Hardywood Hoplar and Brooklyn Blast! would serve well for the hopheads among us.

Finish strong: Dessert gives us the excuse to break out the big guns, and you can set out some robust Imperial Stouts and Barleywines right alongside the Ruby and Tawny Ports if you like. Founders Breakfast Stout is a classic, and not too overpowering. I always like to open a bottle of The Bruery’s Autumn Maple at Thanksgiving; the sweet potato, maple, molasses, and spice flavors are right at home with dessert. Also just in and worthy of a nightcap are North Coast Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin, Deschutes Mirror Mirror, and the all-new (very limited) Brooklyn Hand & Seal bourbon barrel-aged English-style Barleywine. These are great bottles to break out and share among friends and relatives while enjoying various pies, tarts, and cookies. 

Whatever you opt to serve I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday. I want to say how thankful I am to all of the great customers who make Arrowine’s beer department happen, and to all of you who take the time to read and comment on this column week after week. Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money-saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Community discussion guidelines: Our sponsored columns are written by members of the local business community. While we encourage a robust and open discussion, we ask that all reviews of the businesses — good or bad — be directed to another venue, like Yelp. The comments section is intended for a conversation about the topic of the article.

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