A Brewmaster’s Guide to Thanksgiving Beer Pairings

Thanksgiving Beer Pairings 2 (2)

Thanksgiving Table // Photo by Dave Nakayama, via Flickr (graphic added)

The turkey is in the fridge, the guest bedroom is clean, and the grocery list has been checked and double-checked. With the dinner menu set, it’s time to turn your attention to more important things: beer pairings to complement the bounty that is Thanksgiving dinner.

Lift Bridge brewmaster Matt Hall // Photo courtesy of Lift Bridge Brewery

Lift Bridge brewmaster Matt Hall // Photo courtesy of Lift Bridge Brewery

While the spreads may vary from household to household, Thanksgiving is a meal of traditions. Some will toast marshmallows on their sweet potatoes, others will serve baked yams, and the temperature and consistency of cranberry sauce is an argument likely to cause a minor stir between in-laws.

The beauty of a traditional Thanksgiving plate is how each of the individual elements have their own distinct flavors, but they all blend together to create the rich, buttery, savory, sweet eating experience we all know and love.

The balance—or lack thereof—on your plate can help determine the ideal beer pairing for your meal. Is turkey your centerpiece or does stuffing get top billing? Identifying the one or two Thanksgiving-day dishes that you love most can help to narrow down which beers to drink with your meal.

As a graduate of the Siebel Institute and a veteran of the brewing industry, we asked Lift Bridge brewmaster Matt Hall to offer pairing suggestions from both his Stillwater brewery’s lineup and his other favorite breweries from around the region.

Here’s what Brewmaster Matt had to say:


farmgirl-6packLOWLift Bridge Farm Girl Saison

“Hints of orange along with spicy notes from the yeast complement turkey and add to the overall flavor or the meat.”

Steel Toe Size 7 IPA

“At the same time, I like an IPA with turkey […] I think Steel Toe’s Size 7 has nice citrus notes that go well with the caramelized skin and juiciness of turkey.”

Pork sausage sage bread stuffing with celery

Hop DishLift Bridge Hop Dish IPA

“You have citrus, herbal notes, bitterness, carbonation, and then the higher alcohol level that’s going to help cut through the fatty richness of the pork. There’s a pine character to play well with the sage and the beer provides the perfect wash-down to level out the heaviness of the stuffing.”

Schell’s Firebrick Vienna-style Amber Lager

“A great all-around beer. There’s a nice maltiness to it and it’s a little drier. That malty note would go well with stuffing […] The nuttiness and malt notes would complement it, and [Firebrick’s] not overly sweet so it would cut through the fat.”

Cranberry sauce

rush-river-uber-alt-6Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison

“I eat mine on top of the turkey. I like the drier, higher carbonation of Farm Girl to cut through that sweetness and to get the orange notes to balance out and complement the tart cranberry of the sauce.”

Rush River Über Alt

“This beer is pretty malty but with plum, raisins, dark fruit, and some spice notes to it. That dark fruit would also go really well with cranberry sauce and would hold up to the sweetness.”

Sweet potatoes with toasted marshmallows

chestnut-hill-6packlowLift Bridge Chestnut Hill Brown Ale

“I would put Chestnut Hill with sweet potatoes and marshmallows. There’s vanilla, cinnamon, and brown sugar in our sweet potatoes, and with cinnamon and allspice in the beer, it’s a counterpoint and complement. The nuttiness gives some of the same qualities you’d find in the yam.”

Indeed Yamma Jamma Harvest Ale

“Yamma Jamma kind of screams out at you when you’re talking sweet potatoes. Unlike pumpkin beers, Indeed does well with a light hand on the spices. It’s a pairing of like ingredients.”

Pumpkin pie

Lift Bridge The Warden Milk Stout

“Warden milk stout has a chocolate malt and some roasted notes. The lactose sweetness and subtle chocolate and coffee complement the pumpkin—especially with whipped cream. The creamy texture also matches that of the pumpkin.”

Summit Great Northern Porter

“Its dark coffee-like flavors would go well with the spice, sugar, and earthiness of the pumpkin.”

After dinner

commander-500 copyLift Bridge Commander Barleywine

“The Lift Bridge family tradition is a stand-alone after-dinner bottle of Commander. We open it, gather around a fire, and play games while we fill our goblets. Let it warm and sip on it as the perfect ending to dinner as everybody is digesting and undoing the top button on their pants.

“At 12.5% ABV, it has a lot of vanilla, coffee, caramel notes, citrusy with dark fruit and tobacco. As homebrewers, it was always a Thanksgiving beer that brought everyone together and we continue that tradition today.”


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