Raleigh, N.C. — Wow, this year flew by quickly! Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, it’s time for a wonderful feast. You probably already bought the groceries, but, if you want to make the night memorable, there’s one more stop to make -- your local brewery or bottle shop.
The right craft beer and food pairing creates palate euphoria -- that’s when the blending of food and beer in your mouth makes you wish you could enjoy that flavor forever.
Since taste is subjective and everybody is different, who are we to say that the beers we recommend are the best for you? Yes, they are spectacular choices to pair with your dinner, but it’s you who is the deciding factor.
Pairings for dinner
Dinner is comprised of a plethora of flavors, so the beer needs to balance with them all, working to complement or contrast with the food for the best experience. Neither the beer or the food should overwhelm the other; rather, all ahould work together and balance nicely.
Nickelpoint Brewing’s Vienna Lager - Enjoy a malty aroma and slight malt sweetness, as this beer can carry you through the whole dinner. It has a nice medium body and a clean lager finish. Sweet potatoes, turkey and ham -- it’ll be great with all of them!
Trophy Brewing’s Taters Gonna Tate Sweet Potato Saison - If you’re going to eat sweet potatoes, why not drink them too? It’s like a beer side dish! Brewed with 300 pounds of North Carolina sweet potatoes, the wonderful flavor of this saison will complement your entire dinner. It comes in at 7 percent, so this is one to enjoy at a nice, easy speed. To enjoy the peak of flavor, pour it about 15 minutes before dinner is served.
Fortnight ESB - ESB stands for Extra Special Bitter, but this beer is not bitter at all. This style of beer is known for its balance of malt and hops, and Fortnight’s delivers. With notes of figs and sweet raisins, experience the sweet flavors of burnt caramel and toffee that will be a knockout with the turkey. This is another beer best poured a little early to acclimate into the room to get it ready for your taste buds.
Raleigh Brewing’s Moravian Rhapsody - Light, crisp and well-carbonated, this is an easy drinking beer. The lemony zest and bubbles will invigorate your tongue while cleaning it up so you can enjoy each fresh bite. It offers light biscuit notes on the back end, so, if you didn’t bake biscuits, you can savor the light flavor here.
Ponysaurus Scottish Ale - This is one that offers toasty malt, light caramel and nutty flavors that are going to blend so well with dinner. It’s smooth, so each sip is a nice bridge to your next dinner bite, and it's another one that is awesome when you let it warm up a bit.
Weeping Radish’s Black Radish - Finally, let’s go old school with the oldest brewery in North Carolina -- this is a schwartzbier, more commonly known as a black lager/dark German lager. It pours as dark as can be, but it drinks light with soft, roasty flavors of chocolate and coffee.
Pairings for dessert
Once dinner is done, it’s time for dessert!
Cakes, pies and treats bring a grand ending to your meal, and, with such vibrant flavors, you need a beer that will stand up to them and accentuate the experience.
Belgian Dubbels are fantastic for dessert with their caramel and dark fruit flavors, and Haw River Farmhouse Ales’ St. Benedicts Breakfast Dubbel will hit the mark. This one offers extra notes of chocolate and coffee, and that’s what sends it over the top.
Go big with the new release of Southern Pines Sheaf Toss Wee Heavy. With rich flavors of caramel, bourbon and a little smoke, it comes in at a hefty 11.3 percent, and it's worth it. This is one to pour in a goblet or snifter and slowly enjoy over great conversation.
Tripels are another style that are another pleasing addition with dessert. Head to Neuse River Brewing to get a growler of Rivière or local bottle shops for White Rabbit Brewing’s Jabberwocky and/or Aviator’s Devil’s Tramping Ground. All offer rich, sweet flavors that transition from malt to yeast and close a wonderful meal.
Dave Tollefsen and Glenn Cutler are regular guys living in central North Carolina with their families who share a love for craft beer and homebrewing. They work together as the NCBeerGuys. On their website, they offer information about North Carolina Craft Beer with a variety of maps, videos, events, recipes and much more.