Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Cheer

It was Thanksgiving in Connecticut and in addition to the traditional Chardonnay and Cabernet, this year I presented a variety of craft beers to accompany the meal. While this new twist on the holiday beverage selection was met with some initial opposition, it soon became apparent that craft beer could hold its own against wine for any meal.

The first beer I presented was a Belgian Triple from St. Feuillien It paired very well with a creamy goat’s milk triple cream brie by Portneuf, and a more aggressive gorgonzola. The crisp, bright notes of the St. Feuillien balanced out the richness of the cheese, but were never overpowering. It is this balance that also let the triple work well with the sweet, briny shrimp we served as a second appetizer. Again, some clung to their trusty Chardonnay, but those who tased the St. Feuillien, agreed it was a welcome addition.

For the main course, I wanted to offer two distinctly different beers based on what the guests wanted. For those who wanted to stick with white wine, I offered a clean, crisp Radeberger Pilsner, and for those who preferred a stronger red, I offered a Maredsous Abbey Brown Ale. These two beers masterfully handle the complexity of flavors at a Thanksgiving table (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc). The Radeberger was a nice counter-balance to the rich, buttery flavors, while the Maredsous was a fine compliment to creamy potatoes, earthy stuffing, and herbed, roast turkey.

For the desert, a classic pumpkin pie, the craft beer was a clear cut homerun. I presented two seasonal winter ales: Southern Tier 2XMAS, and Ithaca Cold Front. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves notes were nothing short of brilliant when paired with the very same ingredients in the pie. Yes, I know, a tasty pumpkin ale could have served the purpose, but I had an alterior motive: to bring these very ales to the Christmas dinner table. All in all, it was a grand meal, and helped support the case that craft beer is a good meal’s best friend.

Happy holidays to all,



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