Turkey on tap? Best beers to pair with your Thanksgiving dinner

Paul Kurtz
November 28, 2019 - 4:00 am
Turkey and beer

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Wine will be the beverage of choice for many people sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, but more and more craft beer is showing up at the table.  

Ben Shamburg, head brewer at Iron Hill Brewery in Center City, certainly loves his wine, but he believes beer is a better fit to pair with the turkey and trimmings.

“It has the fruity and the tart and the acidic just like wine, but it also has all those food-like flavors of bread and coffee and chocolate,” he said of beer’s versatility.

If you're considering a complementary pairing for the main bird, stick with something on the heavier side. 

“Turkey: It's poultry, it's a little gamier than chicken, it's not as rich as beef or pork, so you're going to want something a little more medium-bodied. I always go back to the bocks and marzens,” he suggested.

“Another great beer for pairing with the Thanksgiving dinner or turkey is saison. Belgian saison is very versatile,” he added, “and it's got that nice acidity that's going to cut through the richness of the turkey.”

With side dishes, it may end up being one starch upon another, but you get a well-rounded combination. “You get those bready, malty flavors, and the stuffing just hooking right up with those bready, malty flavors.”

If you’d rather drink something that contrasts the food, Shamburg recommends a Berliner weisse, a Belgian lambic or a sour beer.

And we can’t forget about dessert. Shamburg is a big fan of Russian imperial stouts to balance traditional pumpkin, pecan and sweet potato pies.

“That's very chocolatey, carmel, cocoa. It's rich enough to hold up to that intense sweetness, and the roast malt notes are going to pick right up on those nutty, carmelly notes in the pie.”

Listen to the entire interview with KYW Newsradio’s Paul Kurtz and John McDevitt on the KYW original podcast The Beer and Booze Broz below.