Craft Beer and the Holidays

December 8th, 2011
Craft Beer and Food for the Holidays, a free program from the Brewers Association, highlights the ways in which beer styles complement many traditional American holiday foods. The program delves into pairings such as ale with traditional American foods, a pairing frequently mentioned in reference to the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. The website,, is for beverage and food lovers interested in complementary flavors at the holiday dinner table. The web site was created in 2006 to encourage those hosting holiday celebrations to include craft beer in their holiday dinner menus. At is information for beer and food enthusiasts who want to learn “what to drink” and “how to serve” craft beer at their holiday meals. The web area also allows breweries around the nation to post their holiday release beers and any holiday dinners associated with the breweries. Caramelized and toasted grain flavors in many beers complement the flavors of roast turkey while herbal hop additions pair nicely with popular holiday seasonings such as sage. Furthermore, the carbonation, fruitiness and balanced bitterness of many craft beers allow them to stand up to creamy, butter-rich preparations like mashed potatoes, creamed corn and similar fare. Julia Herz, Director of Craft Beer Marketing for the Brewers Association stated, “Our country’s history is rich with stories of beer and food and craft beer picks up where wine leaves off. Many styles of beer both complement and contrast the food they are paired with, whereas wine mostly contrasts. The holiday dinner table is a very appropriate place for beer made from America’s small, independent and traditional brewers.” Here are some suggestions listed on for beer styles to pair with various main courses: !/system/artwork/0000/0073/SA_Boston_JPEG.jpg!: Traditional Roast Turkey: The roasted and caramelized skin matches well with amber ale, a strong golden ale or an amber lager in the Vienna style. Samuel Adams Boston Lager: Ham: Like the fruit and cloves often used to prepare ham, the fruity, clove notes in weizen or the stronger weizenbock complement ham at the dinner table. Shiner Hefeweizen: Duck: The darker meat of duck offers a richer flavor than turkey and can stand up to a richer beer as well. Here a Belgian-inspired dubbel or a hearty Oktoberfest lager would go well. Samuel Adams Octoberfest: !/system/artwork/0000/0077/Leffe_Bottle_JPEG.jpg!: Goose: Here too a richer beer than you would choose for turkey is in order. A Belgian-style triple or biere de garde would work well as would a bock or Scotch ale. Leffe Blonde: Salmon: A dunkel lager or Scottish ale can offer a clean toasted malt note to offset the firm flavors of salmon without a lot of bitterness that would overwhelm the fish. Other options would include a mild ale or steam beer. Leg of Lamb: Pale ales provide a pleasant foil to lamb with a spicy or herbal character to complement the character of the meat along with some toasted malt notes. Or for more harmony with the roasted flavors of the meat, try a hoppy brown ale or porter. Foster's Special Bitter: !/system/artwork/0000/0075/Bridgeport_Bottle_JPEG.jpg!: Beef Tenderloin: This rich hearty cut of meat deserves a robust beer as a counterpoint but also calls for some contrast to clear the palate between bites. The ideal companion would be an IPA or Imperial IPA. Other options might include a tripel or old ale. Bridgeport India Pale Ale: Craft Beer and the Holidays - A Perfect Pairing. (2007) Brewers Association. Retrieved November 8, 2007, from * Get More Ideas at Destination Beer's Featured Beer of the Month: