Wine and Thanksgiving are seemingly synonymous – you can visualize it right now as the family shows up for the big meal. Your aunt is carrying a freshly baked pumpkin pie and your uncle has a bottle of wine tucked under his arm. More likely than not, it’s a nice white wine – maybe a Chardonnay or a Riesling. There is nothing wrong with that, but it’s been done… a lot. 

This is where we encourage you to step in and bring the beer. There is definitely a beer that you can match up with each freshly cooked course, and dare we say it? These beers might even pair better than the wine.

It’s hard to mess with tradition. It’s even hard to mess with family tradition – especially if it’s been passed down from generation to generation to generation. I am not suggesting you tell Grandma that she has been doing it wrong for her entire life, but maybe show her there’s another way. Here is our guide to pairing the best Colorado beers with your Thanksgiving Day meal.

Each section includes a couple options readily available at the liquor store, just in case you’re pressed for time.

With the Turkey

Photo courtesy of Great Divide on Facebook.

There are so many different types of food consumed at the Thanksgiving Day table. No one meal is the same, so it can take some work to find the right beer. To us, the key is finding something that will go with the turkey and work from there. Turkey is not an overpowering flavor, so you want beers that will enhance and not detract from the flavor. Great beer styles to pair with turkey are Marzens, Brown Ales, Ambers, Pilsners and Saisons.

“My favorite beer to have with Thanksgiving is something hoppy but not overpowering — just to cut the Thanksgiving meal so every bite is new,” Zac Rissmiller from Resolute Brewing Company explained. “I really like the Resolute Hoppy Pilsner for this. The high carbonation helps to clean the palate after every sip, and the hops just help the meal shine.”

Our Recommended Beers: Resolute Hoppy Pilsner, Dry Dock Docktoberfest, New Belgium Fat Tire and Great Divide’s Colette

READ: 6 Not So Basic Colorado Pumpkin Beers

With the Sides

Photo courtesy of Denver Beer Co on Facebook.

Because this can vary, we are going to run through a few beer styles we would pair up with some of the most common side dishes. If your family digs the sweetness of the cranberry, a nice style to incorporate would be something to cut through the sugar with a hint of tart – you can go for a porter or something a bit sweet like a Kolsch. If you find sweet potatoes on your table, you can go a different route and pair it with a sweet Milk Stout to get your dessert started early. The bread-based stuffing, no matter what your family’s secret recipe is, pairs well with Dubbels and Tripels – building on the bready goodness. We are sure you’ll find yourself with mashed potatoes next to the turkey –and the best part of mashed potatoes? You can get creative with what beer you want to pair with them.

“Creamy, delicious mashed potatoes will go with our hearty, dark lager (Moondoor Dunkel) that finishes light and crisp,” Ryan Wibby of Wibby Brew added.

Our Recommended Beers: Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout Nitro, Resolute Porter, River North Brewery FarmHouse and Denver Beer Company’s Princess Yum Yum.

With the Desserts

Photo courtesy of Copper Kettle Brewery on Facebook.

There are two ways you can go with beer and dessert — you can have a beer for dessert, or you can pair one with a home-baked pie.To finish off your holiday gluttony, sip on a barrel-aged beer infused with the sweet stuff such a maple, brown sugar and vanilla. But, if you want a beer to pair well with your pie, look for similar flavors – chocolate, cherry and even coffee — to make sure it doesn’t get too sweet when you go back for that second slice of pecan pie. Darker beers such as stouts and porters can be ideal for this part of the meal too.

“I really think a new beer we have coming out this week, Farmer’s Breakfast, screams to be enjoyed with some pecan pie,”  said Zach Nichols of Cellar West Artisan Ales. “Sort of our take on a strong Farmhouse-style Stout, this beer spent several months in bourbon barrels, adding vanilla and coconut notes that really go well with any Thanksgiving dessert. Locally roasted coffee and Wisconsin maple syrup add even more decadent complexity to Farmer’s Breakfast, and I think these notes are well suited alongside the sweet nuttiness of pecan pie.”

Our Recommended Beers: Tweak from Avery Brewing Company, Farmer’s Breakfast by Cellar West, Strange Craft’s Cherry Kriek and Copper Kettle Snowed In.

Leave the wine at home – with some many great options, there is no reason to not spice up Thanksgiving this year with some local Colorado craft brews. Besides, you might just be surprised who embraces the new tradition. We’re looking at you, grandma.