Beer and Pavement

Thanksgiving Pairings

Posted in Beer, Intersections, Records by SM on November 23, 2011

I am here to help you with your Thanksgiving music and beer pairings to insure a happy and enjoyable turkey dinner. That and I’m filling space until this post-a-day thing is over…

Indie Rock Thanksgiving
Here are five albums you should consider playing during Thanksgiving dinner. To some, this list may look “boring,” but to those I suggest that maybe we don’t want to rock out with our cocks out or balls to the wall, so to speak. Maybe this Thanksgiving, we want to be calm and reflective. That and my wife doesn’t want anything loud playing during dinner.

Jose Gonzalez – In Our Nature
Quietly haunting and intense, this record will carry the day with this unnerving feel that have you bobbing your head slightly. However, no one will notice as the quiet, hushed tones of Mr. Gonzalez will feed your soul the way turkey cannot. That and it reminds me of fall.

Nick Drake – Way to Blue: An Introduction to Nick Drake
I usually shy away from compilations or best-of albums, but this one is done right as a retrospective of Drake’s career. Throughout, feelings of the oncoming death of winter are prevalent at all periods in Drake’s catalog. His low whisper is pleasant enough not to interrupt dinner conversations, but his masterful guitar playing provides fodder over the table.

Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
I had Thanksgiving dinner a couple of times in Wisconsin. This is what it sounded like (aside from the joyous times spent eating and getting drunk). The first time I made the trip up there, it was the last time I traveled anywhere with an old girlfriend. So, I can relate to Bon Iver’s dumping, the one that led to this album happening.

Nico – Chelsea Girl
I needed a woman mixed in here somewhere, but so many of the women I listen to are much to strong to play as background music at dinner. It’s hard to find a strong conviction in any music without interrupting the dinner. Nico’s somberness while being backed by the Velvet Underground pairs nicely with the whispery fellows on this list. That and it reminds me of Wes Anderson films that always look good at Thanksgiving.

Beirut – Gulag Orkestar
This album may be a little more bombastic than those above, but that tone fits with a raucous dinner that feels festive once familial tensions break over bread. Still, this is Beirut’s best album. It should be listened to during any feast.

Also: Sufjan Steven’s Come on Feel the Illinoise,  Pavement’s Terror Twilight, Feist’s The Reminder, Beach House’s Teen Dream, Iron and Wine’s The Creek Drank the Cradle, Cat Power’s What Would the Community Think

Craft Beer Thanksgiving
Here are suggestions for each course of your Thanksgiving meal. There’s a style of beer as well as my favorite for the day. I’ll also tack on a couple of other beers that fit the profile. I’m basing this mostly on how my Thanksgivings usually go. This year will be different, but I think I can still keep up this pace.

Pre-game Warm-up: Lager (really, any kind) – Victory Prima Pils
The idea here is to awaken the senses without getting too drunk before you start. The light, effervescence of a well-carbonated lager can get your taste buds properly primed for the feast to come. I usually crack open the first one while I fire up the smoker.
Alternatives: Coney Island Lager, Great Lakes Brewing Company Dortmunder Gold Lager, Avery Joe’s Premium American Pilsner

Cheese/Appetizer Course: India Pale Ale – Firestone Walker Double Jack Double IPA
Cheeses tend to carry with them strong, pungent flavors and aromas that challenge any palate. The best beer to match a strong cheese is an IPA or DIPA. Even with softer, lighter cheeses, I find a west coast IPA brings enough fruity character that neither cheese nor beer is lost in the other. Plus, I just like IPA’s.
Alternatives: New Belgium Ranger IPA, Stone Cali-Belgique Belgian IPA, Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale

Main Course: Belgian Quadrupel – St. Bernardus Abt 12
We typically serve a smoked turkey which packs the juicy flavors we want in our Thanksgiving turkey as well as substantial smokiness. The malty Quad matches and stands up to the smoke like few other beers can. The dark fruit flavors in the beer pair with almost any food like a red wine does, but better. The Quad is the only way to go when it comes to turkey dinner.
Alternatives: Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend, Boulevard The Sixth Glass, Straffe Hendrick Quadrupel

Dessert: Russian Imperial Stout – Schlafly Reserve Russian Imperial Stout
Dessert is going to be something chocolaty, fruity, or pumpkin/sweet potato. Russian Imperial Stouts bring coffee, bourbon, and chocolate to match and/or pair with any of these desserts. Or you could just sip on one of these beers alone for dessert. It’s the same thing.
Alternatives: Stone Imperial Russian Stout, Mikkeller Black, Hoppin Frog B.O.R.I.S The Crusher Oatmeal Imperial Stout

Digestif: American Barleywine – Great Divide Old Ruffian Barley Wine
Barleywines feature a sweetness and hop bitterness thats nice to sip, not guzzle. Of course, after all this food, sipping yourself off to sleep might be the way to go.
Alternatives: Avery Hog Heaven, He’Brew Genesis 15:15, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale

What will you be drinking? What will be playing on your record player (or iPod)? Do tell. Also, be sure to point out my faulty reasoning.

8 Responses

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  1. Holly said, on November 23, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I noticed how you did that. Snuck Pavement in there.

  2. Bill Farr said, on November 23, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Cheese course should be after the main course but before dessert, right? And aperitif is before eating — digestif is after eating, and you want it to settle your stomach and aid digestion, so maybe you want nightcap or whatever the “brandy and cigars” period is called. “After-dinner drink”?

    Personally, I find hops and fat not to work together, so IPAs and cheese wouldn’t work for me, esp. as a cheese course. Actually, that’s where I’d put the quad — it’s port-like enough: heavy, somewhat sweet, flavors of dried dark fruits. If the cheese course is before meal (like crackers and cheese), I dunno. A true dry cider?

    I’ve always liked a porter or brown ale with the main course (or again, a dry sparkling cider).

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Zac said, on November 23, 2011 at 9:10 am

      Whoa…Those are some major mistakes on my part. I’ll leave the cheese course where it is, but maybe add appetizers. Also, apertif/digestif are always confusing in my mind, even though it should make sense. Corrections forthcoming.

      Cheese is a mixed bag for me. I like IPA’s so much that I just want to have one before I fill up on dinner. Brown ale and cider are also great for dinner, but I want my malt with a little more oomph. Instead of cider, I’d go with a nice Saison, especially one loaded with Brett.


  3. jeffmenter said, on November 23, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I would put the barleywine with the cheese course. Other than that, great spread. When should you be expecting me?

    • Zac said, on November 23, 2011 at 10:52 am

      I see that with the strongest blue cheeses, but sometimes a barleywine overpowers some cheeses. Normally, it would be cool for you to come over, but we’re eating at someone else’s house this year.

      The actual collection of beers I’m taking looks more like this: New Glarus Wisconsin Red Ale, Double Jack, Abt 12, Black Francis, and Lagunitas Gnarly Wine ’09.

  4. G-LO said, on November 23, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Thinking a Farmhouse Ale (Saison Dupont once again cause it’s just delicious!) and maybe some Flemish Sours. I enjoyed the Monk’s Cafe version that I had last week. Reasonable priced, medium alcohol content, and just plain tasty.

    I like your line up, but the crowd at my In-Laws is pretty basic when it comes to beer. Though in my Father In Law’s defense, he is at the very least stepping out of his comfort zone every once in awhile.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  5. Lyrics, Libations, and Life said, on November 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I will be having dinner at a retirement community, thus I will be having 0 pairings. Hopefully I’ll be able to have something at some point later in the day or something. No beer served there though.

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