Pairing Guide: Thanksgiving/Christmas: Beer and the Bird *Revisited. Turkey

It's almost Thursday and if you haven't picked up a single thing to drink on this most gluttonous of holidays, then have we got suggestions for you. In the last edition of Beer and the Bird we discussed the virtues of staying local (Seattle) and supporting your nearby brewery. This time around we are considering a much wider appreciation for food and beer pairings, by suggesting some probably unheard of, as well as the familiar.

Traditional Turkey: (again see Poultry) It's classically regarded as a stupid bird, and you yourself would be an idiot to pair this with white wine, or a glass filled with a vermouth and vodka. Let's instead consider a couple of styles that pair well with this triptophantastic, fattened, flightless bird.

Think colors that are associated with turkey. With hues such as brown, khaki, white (sometimes red), and tan, you can't go wrong if you work some tripel (Belgian or Belgian-style), amber, or a brown ale (English, American, or English-style).

Here are a couple of brewery beers that fit the bill.

We could go on, but you get the point.

If you are up for something different, try using one of these beers as a brine. Below is a recipe suggested to us by renaissance chef Sean “The Homebrew Chef” Paxton.

  • 4 Quarts Beer *Oktoberfest, Hefeweizen, Bock, Pale Ale or Brown Ale.
  • 4 quarts ice or water
  • 2 cup     Kosher salt
  • 1 cup     sugar
  • 4 each   bay leaves
  • 3 bunch thyme, fresh
  • 3 each   yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 each   carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 each   lemon, quartered
  • 4 each   garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

Brine Option 1

If you have planned ahead, this option gives you more flavors as the sugar and salt crystals completely dissolve.  In a large pot, add beer, salt, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, onion, celery, carrots, lemon and garlic.  Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat.  Add the ice or cold water; it will help cool the brine solution.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or until brine is well chilled.

Brine Option 2

In a large container or or a cleaned ice cooler, add all the ingredients (water instead of ice) except the chicken or turkey; mix well.

Brine Instructions

Use either a large 3-4 gallon container or a cleaned ice cooler and add the turkey, then top off with the brine (for the ice cooler, add a few zip lock bags full of ice).  Place in the refrigerator or ice cooler for 24-48 hours. -source, Sean Paxton (aka, The Homebrew Chef)


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