Get Tipsy With Your Turkey, Part 1: Brews

in Life, Uptown, Dine

Originally featured on Boulevard Realty's Rediscovering Houston blog.

True confession. When I order beer the bartender always mutters under his breath, “sissy”. Accordingly, whenever I have company over, it’s a real challenge for me to find beers to make my guests happy. I always need a little help. For Thanksgiving this year I started my search at the new Whole Foods in Uptown. After all, if it comes from Whole Foods it’s healthy, right? I bellied up to the bar at the in-store brewery, ordered a Lindemans Framboise and struck up a conversation with friend and Beer Specialist Josh Wharton.

I was looking for a one beer-fits-all solution to my dilemma because when I was growing up Thanksgiving was a big feed-for-all. You fill up a plate with anything you even think you might want, dessert included, because it may not be there on the second go around. But Wharton convinced me that with just a little more effort, my guests would think I was not only a great hostess but budding beer-ista.

Sipping Starters

Best to start with something lighter and pace yourself to avoid getting tipsy prior to the turkey. Wharton advises and suggests a session IPA, meaning it has less than 5% ABV. “Meta Modern by Oasis Brewing out of Austin has a great hop aroma, bringing lots of citrus. My family usually has chips and queso as an appetizer and this beer works great with that. The hops cut the fattiness of the cheese perfectly, and the citrus is reminiscent of a good margarita.” For another easy drinking choice with moderate alcohol content try Southern Star’s Bombshell Blonde.

The Main Event

When it comes to what to drink with the dinner dishes such as stuffing, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, there are two camps: those who like heavier beers to complement the offerings and those who prefer lighter styles to balance their richness. For turkey, Wharton recommends Karbach’s Sympathy for the Lager. “This lager is at 4.9%, still keeping the alcohol to a manageable level and the caramel malts will pair nicely with the crispy turkey skin.” If it’s ham on the menu, Silt Brown Ale from Brazos Valley Brewing Company out of Brenham is a nice choice. “With its darker malts, you get hints of chocolate that work well with the glaze on the ham.” For an extended feast with several types of meat, Wharton recommends an Oktoberfest beer. “Even though in Germany Oktoberfest has been over for a month, here in the states you can still find the namesake beer. Karbachtoberfest by Karbach brewing has a stronger malt backbone than the Sympathy, but is a lager, so is lighter than the brown, making it a great middle ground.”

Drafts With Dessert

“Always finish with a big stout,” says Wharton. “The dark, roasty malt brings out a coffee-like bitterness that, like coffee, works perfectly with sweet desserts.” Buried Hatchet, an 8% brewed by Southern Star out of Conroe, straddles the line between normal and imperial, but has a great chocolate front that and roasty finish, and will be the perfect accompaniment to your dessert, be it apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or all three.

With Wharton’s guidance, I’m confident that this year, my guests will be pleasantly surprised not only by the variety of beers on hand, but by the quality. The natural pairing of many of these beers with Thanksgiving staples like mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie may have me drinking some beers I might not have otherwise tried. Then again, I may just stick with my Lindemans Framboise. Either way, I can rest assured that my guests will be happy!