I’m Thankful For Beer

Hello everyone. I’m new here. I write the DailyBeerReview.com beer blog, and Gabriele recently invited me to write a weekly column about beer. Since you’re very smart readers, you can also see that I accepted. If Miller Lite or Bud are the beers of your dreams, I challenge you to pay attention and see if I might be able to show you some new favorites. I’ll be focusing on “Craft Beer” without the snobbery which that name might imply. I promise.

Since this is Thanksgiving week, I’m going to start by saying what I’m thankful for. Yes, my wife and kids and family and job and church, etc. But let’s get on with the more interesting stuff. These are the beers that I’d suggest you search out to try yourself and share this Thanksgiving. Take a few bottles to your in-laws house and see what they think. Take a mixed six pack to your buddy’s house for the game; you might be surprised that you were all closet craft beer drinkers after all! I chose these not only because I’m thankful for them but also because most if not all should be accessible in most places. Yes, even where you live!

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. For this week only, I’ll let you take a shot at this beer. After that, all bets are off since I’ve already proposed marriage to it. Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster at The Brooklyn Brewery took this beer with him to his interview back in 1994. He still works there and is the face of an awesomely successful brewery. Every year, this beer is sought after by beer lovers and experimenters alike. The rich and luscious chocolate flavors, milky and smooth texture, are quite lovely. Hints of vanilla and coffee in a beer that offers 10% alcohol and some warmth along with it. Dark cherries and other fruit nuances make for a complex masterpiece. This would certainly heal the wounds with a brother you haven’t spoken with all year and may prevent that fist fight in the snow on the front lawn that all the neighbors will be talking about! Oh. And Brooklyn’s beers are widely available and priced reasonably. This beer would be awesomely paired with chocolate cake–chocolate on chocolate. Spill a little in your vanilla ice cream or on that rich cheesecake, by accident of course.

The Bruery Autumn Maple. I personally had this beer on Thanksgiving last year. Of course, I had already eaten dinner at Perkins and was back in my hotel room in Disney World, but still. Before opening the beer, I had to chase down a few real glasses as drinking a fine beer from plastic cups isn’t nearly as enjoyable. Don’t take no for an answer if faced with a similar situation at a hotel. Have the front desk clerk go to the kitchen himself if necessary. Why am I thankful for this beer? Well, it’s back on the shelf again locally and I may take it with me to Disney again! This beer is brewed with Yams, Maple Syrup, Molasses and spices, and all of those components are combined in such an excellent fashion. What you have is a terrific and complex beer that’s worth checking out for yourself. It’s also a big beer at 10% alcohol, but Thanksgiving is about sharing and this beer is presented in a wine-sized bottle for precisely that reason. Grandma will definitely enjoy this one! You could easily pair this one with turkey dinner. The richness of the dark meat and the creaminess of the buttery mashed potatoes are a match made in Heaven.

Rogue Somer Orange Honey Ale. Rogue beers were some of the first craft beers I ever tasted, back in the mid 1990′s when the movement was still using the term Microbrewery. I liked good beer then too, but I’ll admit the labels on Rogue bottles were what attracted me to try this brand. And the beers make for the full package, presentation and product. Now I picked an awesome Rogue beer to be thankful for. Rogue Somer Orange Honey Ale has a beautiful floral and orange aroma. The lightly sweet honey and orange flavors are balanced by a spicy zip and refreshing carbonation. You will wish you had purchased more when your non-beer drinking guests absolutely adore this beer. This beer should also work nicely with your traditional Thanksgiving dinner, especially the turkey and stuffing and any of the spicier dishes your family may prepare.

Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale. Sierra Nevada Brewing is a pioneer in the craft beer movement, and it is perhaps my favorite brewery. For the past two years, they have delivered this spectacular beer. This beer was made with organic ingredients that the brewery grew on its own property, unheard of in this era. This beer is an incredible India Pale Ale (IPA). Nice refreshing hoppy bitterness, so fresh, with some orange and bread dough malty balance. If you want to drink a world-class beer, this is your bottle. It’s bitter but not ridiculous and will leave you wanting for more. I’m thankful I have another bottle before it’s all gone. The wine-sized bottle will cost you $10 – $12 but you were going to buy that crappy chardonnay for $15 anyway right? The spiciness added by the hops in this beer would certainly go well with your turkey dinner. Another favorite thing that IPAs pair with are creamy cheeses. I also personally adore the stark contrast of a bitter IPA with a sweet chocolate. But honestly, I would just drink this beer solo, no pairing, for sheer enjoyment!

Dogfish Head Olde School Barleywine. Turkey is gone. Dishes are put away. You’ve unbuttoned your jeans and are sitting around the fire telling stories from years past. The kids get some apple cider and the adults break open a bottle of this beer to sip. It’s OK. You can thank me later. I’ve already sent my thank-you note to the brewery! See that neon bottle cap? That’s to warn you (and so you warn your guests too) that this is a potent beer. Potent alcohol-wise, yet so delicious it’s dangerous. This should be served only a few ounces at a time from a glass you’d drink spirits in. Fruity sweet, brown sugar, and the nicest of alcohol burns ever. Candy and sugar and spice with a bourbon essence. Mmm. Love it! Eat dessert if you’d like with this beer, but I’d just sip it alone and enjoy its awesome complexities. It’s a meal in itself.

So let me know how your holiday went and if you took any of these suggestions. Or perhaps you got creative and grabbed some other beers to take along? I’d like to hear about it either way. Oh, and before I leave. Remember to drink responsibly. Don’t drink and drive. If it’s your turn to drive, then don’t be a dick and ruin things for everyone. Be an adult.