Ray's Craft Beer Newsletter
Turkey Day Treats!
November 2012
Volume 1 Issue 4
Dear Rays Craft Beer Lovers,
That's right, Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Whether you're excited to share a meal with relatives you haven't seen in awhile or dreading sharing a meal with relatives you've enjoyed not seeing in awhile, beer will come in handy. Wine and food pairings are the norm, but craft beers are more than able to handle the task. In this issue we'll go down all your favorite Thanksgiving dishes and pair them with beers that will take your Turkey Day experience to a whole new level! We'll finish with a little information about wet hop beers and feature three incredible Wisconsin takes on the style.




Dan Downes
Thanksgiving Beer Pairing
Sprecher Hopfuzion
Central Waters Hop Harvest
Lakefront Local Acre
Beer and Thanksgiving make the best of friends via steamwhistle.ca
A French word derived from the Latin verb aperire, (meaning "to open") an apéritif is meant to stimulate the appetite and palate before a meal. Many of us may not have this problem on Thanksgiving, but it sounds much classier to tell your in laws that you're enjoying an apéritif than saying, "I need a drink to get through the day." Ideally, you're looking for something lower in alcohol with a smaller palate intensity. No hop bombs! 

New Glarus Serendipity fills this role perfectly. Due to the drought this summer, there will not be enough cherries around to produce Belgian Red. Fear not! This replacement is anything but second best. A blend of apples, cherries and cranberries, this "happy fruit accident" has an incredible bouquet of the fruit and oak. The fruits marry well with the sweet, apple flavor at the forefront that finishes with a tartness from the cherries and cranberries. 
Other apéritif options: Saison Dupont, Jolly Pumpkin
Bam Biére, Victory Prima Pils.



Growing up, my family always called it stuffing so that's the terminology I'll use here. The discussions of dressing vs stuffing can be left for others. Stuffing recipes differ from family to family, but there are enough similarities that make beer pairing possible. Considering the heavy starchiness, you'll want to avoid a heavy bodied beer. Also, while specific ingredients may be different, most stuffings

incorporate the use of herbs such as sage. 


Bearing all that in mind, my pick is the Lakefront Cream City Pale Ale. This beer works well because of balance. There's enough of hop profile to cut through the denseness of the stuffing without destroying your palate. The pine notes also accompany the herbs we mentioned earlier with malty breadiness that will become more pronounced. 


Other options: Pearl Street Pale Ale, Ommegang Rare Vos, Boulder Brewing Hazed and Infused, Orval Trappist Ale 

Cranberry Sauce
Witbiers are the perfect pairing for cranberry sauce. Here's even a great recipe here that actually uses beer in the preparation! With many great options, Bell's Winter White stands out. Fermented with a Belgian Ale yeast, this cloudy beer is bursting with fruit and clove aromas. The notes of orange zest, coriander and the slight tartness round the beer out and work perfectly with this side dish. 
Other options: Ommegang Witte, Hoegaarden, Wittekerke

The Main Event

Time for the star of the show! Considering the amount of time that goes into preparing the main dish, it would be a shame to pair it with a beer that couldn't hold its own.  You'll want something with enough carbonation to cut through the fat, but not something that will overwhelm the other flavors on the table. There are many options, but I agree with Brooklyn Brewery's brewmaster and author of The Brewmaster's Table Garrett Oliver -- Biére de Garde is brilliant with turkey. 
Specifically, I choose the latest collaboration between New Belgium and Brewery Vivant from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Biere de Gardes can best be thought of as a cousin to Saisons, but possess a more malt focused flavor and earthiness. They also often lack a lot of the spicing common to saisons. The yeast characteristics will accentuate the gravy and still have the carbonation to cut through the richness. If Biére de Garde isn't your thing, other Belgian ales (such as Tripels) and American Brown Ales would work. 
Other options: Weyerbacher Merry Monk, Tallgrass Velvet Rooster, La Trappe Tripel, Sierra Nevada Tumbler, Delirium Tremens

If you have enough of an appetite (and sobriety) after the big meal, dessert time is when we bust out the big, rich beers. The classic pairing here are stouts. When you need a beer with enough sweetness to match dessert, Hoppin' Frog's B.O.R.I.S. can handle the job. Whether it's a chocolate based dessert or pumpkin pie, the richness of this beer will blend well with either one. The slight bitterness on the finish and coffee/mocha like characteristics provide an excellent contrast to the sweetness of dessert, too. Pour B.O.R.I.S. into a snifter and let it warm as you enjoy dessert.

Looking for something a bit more adventurous? Another route would be to choose a sweeter fruit lambic for another level of flavor. The tartness and acidity from the wild fermentation will counteract all the sugar. My choice would be the Lindeman's Framboise (raspberry), especially if someone is bringing a cheesecake.

Other options: Goose Island Madame Rose, New Holland Dragon's Milk, Left Hand Milk Stout, New Glarus Raspberry Tart

Wisconsin Wet Hop Collaboration
While the west coast may be known for its hops, Wisconsin does produce some of its own. The Midwest Hops and Co-op Brewers and Growers joined forces with local breweries to take this years harvest and produce some magnificent wet hop beers.   
Now what are wet hop beers? Wet hops (also known as fresh hops) are the hops used immediately after harvesting that have not been dried out. They are very delicate and breweries go through drastic lengths to ensure that the harvested hops are in their brewhouse within 24-48 hours.

Now why go through all this trouble? Simply enough it's about flavor. Wet hops give beers different characteristics than the normal dry hop beers. What they may lack in intensity they deliver in a complexity. Less bitter, they are much more fragrant and provide incredible aromas. They also give beer a slight herbaceousness and "greenness" that dry hopped beers lack. These beers also tend to be fruitier and have more citrus characteristics than the usual IPA. 
Sprecher Hopfuzion

This is what you get when you wet hop Sprecher Amber with 300 lbs of fresh Wisconsin Cascade hops! The hops give the beer a pleasant floral/herbal aroma. The malt has a slight toasted flavor that pairs well with the mild bitterness. All in all, a perfectly smooth drinking lager. Try it side by side with Special Amber to see what a difference fresh hops make. 
Central Waters Hop Harvest

The best way to describe Central Water's spin would be a fresh hop blonde ale. It pours a golden color with a bright, white head. The nose produces the subtle grassy characteristics that I find incredible in wet hop beers. The malt gives it a tinge of honey like sweetness that blends well with the citrusy hops. The perfect carbonation cleanses the palate and makes it easy to go back for more!
Lakefront Local Acre
Lakefront Brewing takes their local acre beer one step further with fresh Wisconsin hops. An unfiltered lager that some classify as an Imperial Pilsner, it has a silky body and fresh piney aroma. What makes this beer stand out are the melon and fruit notes that come through. The biscuity characteristics from malt balance things out and will make you upset that it's only available for a short time. 
Well that wraps up this edition of the newsletter. I'd love to hear about your experiences pairing my selections, but at the end of the day, beer and food paring boil down to experimentation. Try different combinations and see if they work. I've had my own fair share of failures and you might, too. At least you'll still have a beer to drown your sorrows. 
Thanks again for subscribing to and reading Ray's craft beer newsletter. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to email me at dandownes@rayswine.com

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