Craft brews to pair with your Thanksgiving feast

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Salad: Personally, I skip the rabbit food on Thanksgiving Day (and most of the rest of the year too, if I am being honest), but I know there are many that love it. Pairing with fresh garden vegetables is always a treat, so go for a (local if possible) wheat beer or hefeweizen. Something like Bell's Oberon is light and flavorful without being overpowering, a good balance to bring out the flavors of the veggies and dressing.

Turkey and sides: Any cooking method that crisps the skin gives the bird a delicious sweet-smoky flavor along with whatever herbal and savory notes and brought by the seasonings and stuffing. I like to choose a good brown ale like Cigar City's Maduro that has a strong malt character with a hint of bitterness.  Some other options would be an English-style Extra Special Bitter like Jolly Pumpkin E.S. Bam or  Heavy Seas' Winter Storm. Some prefer more sweetness, like a farmhouse or Saison. In that case, try Saint Somewhere's Saison Athene or The Bruery's Saison Rue. The farmhouse funk is a good contrast to the savory seasonings, and can balance some of the fattier aspects of the plate. Of course, if you do not want to venture too far out of your comfort zone, you can't go wrong with a good amber or pale ale. Anderson Valley Boont Amber or Oskar Blues' Dales Pale Ale will go well with anything you stack on the platter.

Dessert: Thanksgiving dessert is all about the pies. Pumpkin, pecan, apple, mincemeat, chocolate, sweet potato -- depending on where you live there might be a dozen other varieties! An obvious choice here would be to go with a pumpkin ale like Cigar City Great Gourd or Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin Ale. If there are tart fruits or chocolate on the sweets table, a coffee or chocolate stout is always a good match; try Great Divide's Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout or Southern Tier Choklat. Another choice would be to go heavy and grab a barleywine or "strong" ale like Sierra Nevada Bigfoot or the 14.5% Samael's Ale from Avery Brewing, respectively.

Whatever you are serving, there is a beer to match it.  Whoever are your guests, there are beers they will like, given the opportunity.  I am a great advocate of bringing beer to any table, and the holidays are the perfect time to give friends and family the gift of craft beer.

Ah, the holidays. Ready or not, they are upon us. The Christmas songs have been playing in the stores since before Halloween, but the first of the Big Two is nigh: Thanksgiving. That meal-to-end-all meals, the very thought of which makes buttons pop and belts strain. Heaping plates of food: Sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and, of course, the bird. There are as many ways to cook a turkey as there are families to cook it. The traditional oven roast, the deep-fryer outside, and a host of other iterations.  But all evoke thoughts of crispy brown skin, juicy and succulent meat (light and dark), and all the trimmings and usually accompanied with one's favorite wine.

But wait a minute! Isn't there another option? What about a good craft beer? I thought you would never ask! Roasted fowl is a perfect match for many craft beers. The smoky, juicy meat of a turkey lends itself to a variety of beers readily available at your local craft beer store. Even better, a variety pack of mix-six can give you a beer for nearly every course! Thanksgiving — at least as we know it — is a uniquely American holiday, so lets put together a selection of American craft beer for the big T-Day dinner, shall we?

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