Thanksgiving and Beer

Recently my friend Susan from Finding Our Way Now put out a list of great wines to try for your Thanksgiving gatherings. It’s a great idea and an easy way to get an idea of what you might want to have with your turkey and stuffing.

In our conversation for the post she turned to me and wondered what I might suggest for beers to go with the feast. Well, I could do that. But I feel beer is something personal. What I think is great you may question my sanity and vice versa.

But going with that answer doesn’t make for good story telling. Instead I went a little deeper. You see I am not going to name a specific brewery and say this breweries beer is the be all end all. That would take more time than what we have here.

Instead I am going to look into the past and remark a little about what might have been available at the first Thanksgiving. (get ready, it might very well be story time).

When the Pilgrims first hit the new world they were desperate. Their stores were running low and they needed to land so they could restock. By stores I am referring to the beer they had available. You see water in Europe at the time was unsafe to drink. Bacteria (remember the Black Plague?) infested much of the water and made people sick. Beer was the go-to beverage of choice to avoid sickness. Yes, it was the original health food.

They did run into a few problems though when they came here. The grapes were unsuitable for the wines they were used to. And the grain, the six row barley did not perform as well as the barley they were used to. Apples grew here, though not always the kinds they were used to and of course, honey was readily available.


flikr Creative Commons via JSpatchwork

They found ways to use other grains with the barley to make suitable beer. Wines were shipped in from England. The ciders and meads would have been fairly close to home.

There is no factual account of what was served beverage wise at the first Thanksgiving table. But by examining what was available, I can see pumpkin and squash beers as well as porters and browns. They might have used wild hops in the beers because the new cuttings would not have had time to grow fruitful yet.

Meads have existed for some time but they have not always been in fashion so they might not have been at the table. But the ciders, pressed from the fresh apples and other fruits for flavor would have been abundant.

When looking to set your table for the holiday, a good choice would be to follow the Pilgrims. Browns and porters are a great choice to match the richness of the turkey and gravy. A tart apple cider can bring enough acidity to balance the flavors as well. You could even go decadent and have a nice melomel (mead fermented with fruit) with dessert.

They say that the drinks that come from a region tend to match perfectly with the foods from that region. The same could be said for Thanksgiving. The drinks available at the first table, will go great with the foods you serve at your table.

Time for a pint…


6 thoughts on “Thanksgiving and Beer

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