As the Thanksgiving holiday looms near here in the states, the Interwebs are abuzz with stories  about what best to do with your beer during your holiday festivities. First, the Dallas Morning News released a list of what beers to drink and when during a holiday party. First,

Aperitif: As guests arrive, hand them something crisp and cold, light as air. They sip and whet their appetites, but don’t fill up. The world’s lagers are made for this.

Hors d’oeuvres: As you pass around the canapes, you give your guests pale ales, somewhat fuller in body, hoppier, able to deal with shrimp with sauce, cheese balls and the like.

Dinner: For the full, complex, fatty flavors of an all-out Thanksgiving main course, you want a muscular beer, with the hops and alcohol to cut through. The category called Belgian-style strong ales works here.

Dessert: With beer, as with wine, the drink should be sweeter than the dessert. The following will handle pecan or pumpkin pies.

Digestif: When you mellow out after the meal, watching the game, you need something big, rich, soft and sweet to settle your stomach.

And quite nicely for those less familiar with each style of beer, the Morning News lists a number of recommended beers for each course of the meal. Another nice point the paper makes is recommending you serve the beer in 3 or 4-ounce cocktail glasses, “like the ones pubs use for beer-tasting flights”, so that the beer itself doesn’t fill you (or your guests) up.

Next, fresh on the heels of that little tid bit, Charlie Papazian himself, wrote a post on his Beer Examiner blog on pairing beer & cheese (a personal favorite of mine) this holiday season. Similarly sctructured to his Halloween-themed beer & chocolate post, in this article Papazian describes beer & cheese as,beer+cheese

the kind of combination that I never tire of because I’m always discovering something new. Not just any cheese nor just any beer. Here are a few of my favorite styles that can offer a starting point. The important thing is to have fun.

Papazian then lists the cheeses he would include on his ideal world cheese platter. Including (but not limited to) such gems as “French or Israeli sheep feta”. And the ideal beers he would pick to go with. That’s the fun part:

Milk stout  or sweet stout, nut brown or American porter, smoked porter, a hoppy full flavored traditional pilsener, an Oktoberfest or Maerzen style lager, strong brown ales, bourbon barrel aged stout,  Belgian-style tripel or dubbel, a French or Belgian-style saison or French-Style Bière de Garde and if you really want to be adventurous with your guests explore the world of Belgian-style gueuze/lambic and pair it with sharp cheddar and then as a contrast with brie.

All of these recommendations — from both Papazian and the Morning News — are a great place to start but it is all about experimentation and most of all about having fun. This Thanksgiving (or anytime this Holiday Season) find some cheese you’ve never had before, and a beer you’re unfamiliar with and go nuts – you definitely won’t be disappointed and who knows, you may uncover the best pairing you’ve ever had…

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  1. Great blog, great post. I hadn’t seen the Morning News piece, so thanks. Nice to see that others agree with Garrett Oliver’s assertion that “beer” is the best wine to serve at Thanksgiving. I wrote about this topic at my blog,, so be sure to check it out. I always suggest biere de garde for the main course, because it has a savory, herbal that perfectly matches all the flavors. Enjoy!

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