Thanksgiving Dinner Pairings
We’re all gearing up for that favorite of stuffing-yourself-silly holidays, Thanksgiving!
While we’re all going to miss getting together with our extended family, gathering aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews and those people who your parents keep telling you that you’re related to but you have no actual memory outside of Thanksgiving dinner, that doesn’t mean that Thanksgiving has to be a bust.
Any meal, any time, is made better with some Cape May Brewing Company brews.
So, this year, we’ve paired your traditional Thanksgiving meal with some of our most traditional — and some of our least traditional — brews. Enjoy!
APPETIZER: Butternut Squash Soup and Mop Water
While it’s difficult to identify a “traditional” Thanksgiving soup, generally speaking, you want something that’s going to accentuate the autumn-ness of the holiday. Butternut squash is available year-round, but the biggest, best, and most flavorful squashes come into season just before Thanksgiving, making it an excellent choice for your Thanksgiving soup.
There are about a million different recipes for butternut squash soup, but they all have the most important ingredient in common: butternut squash. A sweet and nutty gourd, butternut squash tastes exactly what it sounds like — buttery, nutty, a bit like pumpkin mixed with butterscotch.
That sounds like a perfect match for our “pumpkinless pumpkin beer”, Mop Water.
With all of those fall spices that you’d typically throw into a pumpkin pie, the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger are going to pair beautifully with the buttery nuttiness of butternut squash. Add to that the s-load of vanilla, and you’ll get that illusion of creaminess that will balance out the entire dish.
And a 7.3% ABV brew is definitely in the “sweet spot” for this Thanksgiving: not too heavy, but packing just enough of a punch to get things started off right for a non-traditional Thanksgiving.
MAIN COURSE: Turkey and That Cranberry Good Good
Because of course you’re going to have turkey on your Thanksgiving table. Maybe you’re one of those families who like to do duck — or even the fabled turducken –, but, when we’re talking about traditional Thanksgiving dishes, a list without turkey is… wrong.
According to these folks, turkey has been the traditional Thanksgiving main course since Lincoln first proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday back in the 1860s. There are a few reasons. One, the turkey is an incredibly American bird, so much so that it almost beat out the Bald Eagle as our national symbol. (In retrospect, good choice, Founding Fathers!) Two, turkeys are huge. They’re gigantic. (And ill-tempered, but that’s beside the point.) Aside from being a glorious centerpiece to your celebration, a turkey is going to feed all of your hungry, freeloading family members. And three, it’s celebratory. No one roasts a turkey for a typical Wednesday-night dinner. It takes forever. You’re only breaking out the turkey on a special day.
And there’s no more traditional pairing than turkey and cranberries.
This traditional pairing is more out of custom than any real marriage of flavor, but it’s a strong pairing. While The Bog is one of our favorite summer beers, cranberries are a traditionally autumnal food — the cranberry harvest typically takes place at the beginning of autumn. (Luckily, in New Jersey, we harvest a lot of cranberries — enough that we’ve got some in March to begin brewing The Bog.)
It’s a psychological pairing. If you’re eating turkey, you need cranberries. However, the sharpness of cranberries is a delicious counterpoint to the brininess of turkey. The flavors mingle well, even if they don’t necessarily complement each other.
Luckily, we’ll be releasing That Cranberry Good Good just in time for the holiday. Packed with tons of cranberry flavor and sweetened to perfection, our imperial shandy is the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving meal.
SIDE DISH: Stuffing and Coastal Evacuation
Where there’s turkey, there’s stuffing.
While stuffing is certainly traditional, trying to determine a “traditional” stuffing recipe is next to impossible. Recipes for stuffing are as varied as the families who sit down to dinner, with each family lifting up their mom’s as being the best stuffing.
(They’re wrong. My mom makes the best stuffing. — ed)
Regardless of the varieties of stuffing that you’re likely to find on tables next Thursday, there’s one thing that usually binds them together (other than the turkey juices that have deliciously seeped into the stuffing): they’re usually the spiciest thing on the table.
Thyme and cracked black pepper and sage and cracked black pepper and rosemary and cracked black pepper and parsley and cracked black pepper and onions and cracked black pepper and garlic and cracked black pepper and cracked black pepper — the stuffing is where it’s at.
And where there’s spice, you want hops. Sounds like a job for everyone’s favorite double IPA, Coastal Evacuation.
With its Centennial-forward blend of hops, the bitterness of the hops and that glorious explosion of spices in the stuffing should play very nicely together. Coastal Evacuation will pair well with a more savory stuffing — its hints of orange, citrus, and honeydew would be a lovely addition to a stuffing heavy on sage.
SIDE DISH: Green Bean Casserole and Cape May IPA
There’s nothing more traditional at Thanksgiving than a good green bean casserole. Whether it’s frozen beans and some condensed cream of mushroom soup or a more elaborate affair with fresh beans, homemade alfredo sauce, and mozzarella — and, of course, perfectly toasted french-fried onion strips — a Thanksgiving without green bean casserole simply isn’t Thanksgiving.
So, we paired this incredibly traditional side dish with our incredibly traditional flagship beer: Cape May IPA.
While we firmly believe that anything pairs well with Cape May IPA, you’ll find that the slight sweetness of the beans pairs nicely with the slight bitterness of Cape May IPA. And you’ll love Cape May IPA’s citrus and floral notes with those ubiquitous french-fried onion strips.
SIDE DISH: Mashed Potatoes and Devil’s Reach
What’s Thanksgiving without mash taters? Creamy, buttery, and whipped into heavenly perfection, there are few side dishes as perfect as mashed potatoes. Skin on or skin off, red or Yukon Gold, with garlic or without, mashed potatoes are impossibly both fluffy and rich at the same time.
So, you’ll want a beer that can stand up to that butteriness and the richness that you find in mashed potatoes. That’s where that old standard of Devil’s Reach comes in. Fruity and light yet complex and robust, the fruitiness of Devil’s Reach will pair beautifully with the richness of the potatoes. And, at 8.6% ABV, it’s strong enough to cut through all of that delicious starch and creamy fat.
SIDE DISH: Cranberry Sauce and Double Crushed
It’s not Thanksgiving dinner without cranberry sauce.
We’re not going to wade into the debate between adherents of homemade sauce and those who need it right out of the can — we can see merits in both arguments. While a homemade cranberry sauce can be delicious, there’s just something satisfying about that audible schlurp of that solid mass of ruby-red cranberry sauce coming out of the can, resplendent with its ridges, mass-produced and gelatinous and perfect.
However you love your cranberries on Thanksgiving, there’s no denying that they pair beautifully with orange and citrus, so we’re going to have to pair them with our delectable Double Crushed. The sweetness of the orange and citrus in Double Crushed will bring out the cranberries nicely, and the bitterness from the fruity hops blend will be excellent alongside the sweetness of the cranberry sauce.
DESSERT: Pumpkin Pie and Ties the Room Together
You probably thought we were going to say Mop Water, didn’t you? Well… we already paired Mop Water with butternut squash soup, and Ties the Room Together is awesome. Obviously, you’re not a golfer.
Nevertheless, it’s not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. While you’re probably stuffed after all of that goodness, before you drift away in your L-tryptophan-induced food coma, you’re going to want a slice of pumpkin pie.
We went with Ties the Room Together for two reasons (well, three reasons):
One, you want a cup of coffee with your dessert, and Ties the Room Together has you covered. Our cream stout with coffee is the way to go.
Two, lactose and vanilla is basically the recipe for whipped cream. You won’t need to add any extra calories if you’re sipping a Ties the Room Together along with your pumpkin pie.
And three, Ties the Room Together abides. It’s just a killer beer. At 8.5% ABV, that’s the perfect way to end your Thanksgiving meal.
This sounds like a great meal! Excellent pairings, and the ABVs average out to just over 8%, so this Thanksgiving, though odd, will certainly be intoxicating.
Give these pairings a try next Thursday and let us know how we did!