Hosting Thanksgiving this year and are looking for the ideal beer to go along with your feast? Look no further.
We sort through the plenty seasonal offerings and present our guide to the best beers to drink on Thanksgiving—with picks seeking to impress, educate and satisfy your guests.
Most of the breweries mentioned have a wide distribution network but, just in case, we suggest some similar beers that will serve you just as well. Happy Thanksgiving and happy drinking!
Game Time/Early Afternoon/Appetizers
You did wait for a respectable time of the day to grab your first beer, right? After all, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Appetizers are starting to roll out and the first game is coming on. Why not get things started with…
- Cranberry Orange Radler by Boulevard Brewing Company: At just 4.05% ABV (that extra .05 makes a huge difference), this keeps things nice and light while also being seasonally appropriate. This Radler, which is new in November, takes Boulevard’s Unfiltered Wheat and adds cranberry and blood orange juices to it. Want to look like a culinary wizard? Drop some of this into your cranberry-orange relish while it’s boiling.
Similar beers: Stiegl-Radler Grapefruit by Stiegl, Otra Vez by Sierra Nevada
- Some kind of craft lager: Craft brewers are paying a lot of attention to lagers these days. Some great examples of crowd-pleasing, clean-drinking, easy-to-enjoy offerings include Baba Black Lager by Unita Brewing, Pivo Pils by Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Dortmunder Gold Lager by Great Lakes Brewing Company.
- La Folie Sour Brown Ale by New Belgium Brewing: La Folie is a sour brown ale released annually by this Fort Collins mainstay. A blend of barrels aged for one to three years, this beer is decidedly tart, with notes of green apple, cherries, jam, pepper and slight toffee in the finish. Perfect for cutting through (and pairing with) appetizers like cheese, charcuterie and Buffalo chicken dip.
Similar beers: Duchesse de Bourgogne by Brouwerij Verhaeghe, Grand Cru by Rodenbach Brewery, Gueuze Cuvée René by Brouwerij Lindemans
The main event is here. You’ve set your belt two notches wider than usual and you've positioned yourself for maximum reach across the table. Don’t forget to carve out room for at least one beer glass (or two, or three...) around the super-sized platter that you’ll be loading up.
- Black Butte Porter by Deschutes Brewery: Porter is often incorrectly conflated with stout. Whereas stouts tend to run a bit more bitter, occasionally verging on acrid, porters tend to be more of a lighter roast, balanced out by a decent hop (this part varies widely). You may not realize that this is actually a very food-friendly style (especially with dark meat turkey and the other roasted and caramelized foods on the Thanksgiving table), and it’s always nice to turn people onto dark beers that aren’t Guinness.
Similar beers: Edumund Fitzgerald Porter by Great Lakes Brewing Company, Robert Porter by Founders Brewing
- Indian Brown Ale by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery: One of the venerable Milton brewery’s most underrated beers, Indian Brown Ale takes the malty caramel aspect of a Scotch ale and loads it up with a bunch of American hops that confer it an assertive bitterness along with the grapefruit and pine notes you’d expect out of an east coast IPA. Brown ales aren’t in vogue, and they haven’t been in years, but there’s a reason this beer has stuck around the Dogfish lineup.
Similar beers: Backpaper Brown by Tallgrass Brewing Company, Maduro Brown Ale by Cigar City Brewing
- Cellar Door Saison by Stillwater Artisanal Ales: Saisons as a style are so food-friendly. They tend to be highly carbonated, scrubbing your tongue and keeping your food tasting great, they are smooth enough for picky drinker but as complex as connoisseurs crave them to be, and they pair super well with a wide variety of foods. Stillwater’s Cellar Door takes the farmhouse style to another level. It starts with a wheat base, adds American hops like Citra, and rounds it out with the addition of white sage. That white sage’s herbaceousness will go great with stuffing, turkey and nearly anything else on the table.
Similar beers: Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale by Boulevard Brewing Company, Hennepin by Brewery Ommegang, Saison Dupont by Brasserie Dupont
You made it to dessert! Sure, you’re stuffed, but hopefully you’ve also had a nap and are ready for round two (or three). Now that you’re done with proteins and stuffing and vegetables, let’s get into some pies, cobblers, cakes, cookies… and beers. Always, beers.
- Ten Fidy by Oskar Blues: Another new November release, this massive imperial stout was previously only available at the taproom, but now it’s in 19.2 ounce Smokestack cans. Expect an upgrade on the already massive Ten Fidy, which is redolent of rich chocolate, caramel and roast notes. The barrel-aging will add in a hefty dose of vanilla as well.
Similar beers: Oak-Aged Yeti by Great Divide, Dragon’s Milk by New Holland Brewing Company, Breakfast Stout by Founders Brewery
- Three Philosophers by Brewery Ommegang: Belgian quadrupels (“quads”) are well known for being boozy and complex, dark fruit-laden malt and spice masterpieces. Ommegang’s take threads a traditional quad with Liefmans Kriek, a Belgian cherry beer that cuts the malt sweetness just a touch. Overall, this is heavy on plum, raisin, cherry, molasses and brown sugar notes—and it packs a punch at 9.7%.
Similar beers: St. Bernardus Abt 12 by Brouwerij, Trappistes Rochefort 10 by Brasserie de Rochefort, Bourbon Barrel Quad by Boulevard Brewing Company
- Curieux by Allagash Brewing Company: Portland, Maine’s most renowned brewery has been brewing Cureiux since 2004. Taking the Belgian Tripel and aging it in Jim Beam bourbon barrels for six-to-eight weeks, the brewery then re-blends the concoction with un-aged tripel. The result is a very rich take replete with spice, apple, pear, honey and coconut notes, along with some vanilla and a hint of bourbon booziness from the barrel—all with a gorgeous fluffy white head. A truly perfect pairing with apple pie.
Similar beers (note: none of these are barrel-aged): Golden Monkey by Victory Brewing Company, La Fin du Monde by Unibroue, Chimay Cinq Cents by Bières de Chimay