Beer? At Thanksgiving?

November 19, 2010 at 10:09 am

Tom Keith

Bah. Humbug. (Oh, wait, that’s for Christmas. I’m getting ahead of myself. Local Beet editor Rob asked me to write something about beers for Thanksgiving. Oh, well.)

But I’m not doing much of a Thanksgiving this year (big family event the following weekend). I’ll probably just go out to a restaurant and drink wine, like everyone else.

But in an ideal world, I wouldn’t be like everyone else. I’d drink beer for Thanksgiving. (Well, I might have some food along with the beer, too).

And, in an ideal world, I’d have lots of friends and family over for Thanksgiving. Of course, I’d have a turkey, probably a heritage breed, like a Bourbon Red from Caveny Farm in Monticello, IL.

And I’d probably get some cranberries from a grower near our summer place in Northern Wisconsin. (Did you know that Wisconsin is the world’s leading producer of cranberries?)

I’d skip the overcooked green beans with canned fried onions, and instead, maybe, serve some braised tat tsoi from Henry’s Farm in Congerville, IL.  (available Saturday morning 11/20 at the last-gasp of the Evanston Farmers’ Market at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 616 Sherman in Evanston). I’d make it with onion and Nueske’s Bacon.

So, I’m imagining an ideal world.  Obviously, there would be beer.

Lots of beer. Many varieties of beer. Especially local beers.

Turkey can be somewhat on the bland side, but the Caveny birds have much more depth of flavor than your typical supermarket bird. A Domaine DuPage, from Two Brothers in Warrenville, would provide the complexity associated with the beers of Northern France, to go along with the complexity of the heritage bird.

Cranberries aren’t innately sweet, but their preparations usually involve enough sugar to keep many dentists happily employed, and to finance the yachts that they’ve recently had to put in storage for the season. There are two ways to go with this. You could contrast the sweetness with something truly bitter and hoppy, like Lincoln Avenue’s Half Acre Daisy Cutter or Munster, Indiana’s Three Floyd’s flagship, Alpha King. Or maybe you’d want to complement the sweetness with a Scottish Ale. Get a growler of Skara Brae from Revolution Brewing in Logan Square. It’s billed as a sweet and malty Scottish Ale, featuring 8 different malts with a warming, caramel flavor.

The tat tsoi, without other additions, would have a subtle, slightly cabbage-y flavor. I’d match that subtlety with a köslch, like Krankshaft, from Metropolitan Brewing, in Ravenswood. But amped up with onion and bacon, you’d need something a bit more assertive and roasty, like Flossmoor Station’s  Pullman Brown Ale.

For dessert? The obvious choice would be a fruit lambic, from Lindeman’s – cherry, raspberry, or peach. A more local choice might be New Glarus’  Belgian Red or Raspberry Tart beers. (But New Glarus isn’t officially distributed in Chicagoland – you’ll have to cross the cheesehead border to get them. Woodman’s in Kenosha [I-94, exit 344, east] is a good source.) Or, now for something completely different (apologies to Monty Python), you might try a mead (honey wine) from Chicago’s South Side Wild Blossom Meadery.

It’s amazing how we can easily get so many beer styles brewed locally, and brewed well, in the Midwest.

Maybe it is an ideal world, after all.



  1. Tracy says:

    Nicely done, Tom! I will definitely pick up a Wild Blossom mead for my Thanksgiving Day night cap. Great idea!

  2. Tom Keith says:

    For readers who don’t know, Tracy is one of beer’s “obsequious minions,” (aka owner/brewer, with husband Doug, at Metropolitan Brewing). You can see her tattoo in this article:

    But, more importantly, she’s spoken out against the (ahem) anomalies in the Chicago beer distribution system. The somewhat disturbing story is here:

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