Everybody loves a good holiday meal, am I right?! With delicious food to fill the table and your stomach it’s no wonder we get excited just thinking about all of the wonderful times ahead. Since you’re most likely saving room for food and nothing else, it can be hard to down an eggnog or stout and then eat mashed potatoes and stuffing. But let’s be real here; you know you want to put back a fair few drinks and have your turkey too. So, I have decided to come up with a list of a few brews that taste great while still leaving room to devour that pie you’ve been eyeing since Grandma brought it out of the oven.
First off is your fall staple; pumpkin beer. Sometimes pumpkin beer can be quite heavy, whether on the spices or in general, and it can leave you feeling quite full. I’m happy to say that I have found a few to be, you guessed it, on the lighter side! Uinta Brewing’s Punk’n Ale is filled with pumpkin flavor and a hint of spices. At 4% ABV it’s a nice, mellow beer that you could continue drinking throughout the day. Anderson Valley has a Fall Hornin’ Pumpkin Ale at 6% ABV that doesn’t have a ton of flavor either way and is a little on the sweeter side, but very drinkable. Chatoe Rogue First Growth Pumpkin Ale at 5.6% ABV is unique in the fact that the brewery grows its own pumpkins! With the major pumpkin flavor this brew packs, it’s actually quite light. In my opinion, spicy pumpkin beers throw me off and tend to leave me fuller rather than saying “grab me another cold one” but here’s a few to mention anyway. Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale at 5.9% ABV, New Holland Ichabod at 4.8%, and Shipyard Pumpkinhead at 5.1% are all good but taste a bit like you’re eating a gingerbread cookie with a hint of pumpkin flavor. So if that’s your thing then, you go Glen Coco!
I happen to like ciders, however they can’t be too sweet and they have to have just the right amount of carbonation. Red’s Apple Ale (yes, I know, not a cider) has a crisp apple flavor with a touch of sweetness, but since it’s brewed like a beer it doesn’t have the overly sweet characteristic some ciders carry. Samuel Smith’s is a brewery from England, however, you can usually find their brews in a grocery or specialty store that has a wide selection (think Trader Joe’s, Harris Teeter or Wegmans). Their Organic Cider is one of the most well balanced, non juice-box tasting ciders you can find on the market. A little side note: they also have an Organic Chocolate Stout that is out-of-this-world amazing!! In fact, you should probably go to the store after reading this and get one, you won’t regret it! Lastly, Beak and Skiff 1911 Founders’ Reserve Hopped Hard Cider has got to be my favorite. This is a cider that has gone through a hopping process to create a slightly bitter, aromatic blend of apple and hop goodness with a smooth, semi-dry finish. You’ll be through 3 of these before dinner is even on the table.
If you’re one of those people who thinks the fall beer market is saturated with pumpkin or cider and you want nothing to do with either, then this list is for you. Abita Brewing Co. has a Pecan Harvest Ale at 5.1% ABV that packs all of the caramel and biscuit malt of an Oktoberfest with a nice pecan aroma and finish. Victory Brewing Co. makes a lighter, more hoppy version of an Oktoberfest that might catch you by surprise. Their Festbier at 5.6% ABV has a citrusy, less malty flavor perfect for those that aren’t into your traditional, heavier Oktoberfest. Now, this next one does have pumpkin in it, but before you go throwing your side eye at me, know that you barely notice it due to the delicious roasted sweet potato and slight spice flavor that takes over. Milwaukee Brewing Co.’s Sasquash Sweet Potato Porter at 5% ABV is essentially described as Thanksgiving in a glass which makes me wonder; is this Big Foot’s beer of choice? Finally, Breckenridge Brewery’s Vanilla Porter at 5.4% ABV is an ale that has all of the chocolate and nutty flavors usually found in a porter as well as fresh vanilla beans that give it a well-rounded, slightly creamy texture. While some could argue this is a beer better for the winter months, I say, don’t care, it’s snowing somewhere.
With all of the food and beer to be consumed this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to take the time to be thankful that this gathering is a part of your life. Be thankful that you have the ability to make a delicious dinner and sit down with family or friends to enjoy a few brews. Whether you’re into pumpkin, cider, harvest ales or porters, grab a pint, share stories, have a good laugh, drink and be thankful you’re alive and well!