"When it comes to pairing beer and food," says Nowaczyk, "the first thing you want to do is match flavor intensities — because this will help bring out the best flavors in each." In addition, he points out that "combinations often work best when food and beverages share some common flavor or aroma elements." So chocolate and rich desserts (like chocolate pecan pie, for example) pair well with stouts, which often have rich, chocolate aromas and a smooth finish.
Complement or contrast
The key to good beverage pairings is to either complement or contrast the food with the beverage. In the basics example, a stout complements chocolate pecan pie because they share flavors. Nowaczyk says to think about "sweetness, bitterness, carbonation, heat (spice), richness and seasonality to get the best food and beer pairings with beers that either complement or contrast the food that you're preparing."
Get more tips on Thanksgiving beer and wine pairings >>
Your best bet for a beer that will pair with the majority of Thanksgiving foods is a light, crisp beer like Fireman's Brew Blonde, Kiran or Blue Moon. Nowaczyk also recommends Fireman's Brew Brunette or similar beer. "With its profusion of sweet, sour and savory elements," he says, "Fireman's Brew Brunette's maltiness and mild hopping make it a delicious pairing for some of the best Thanksgiving foods like dark turkey meat, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and desserts like pumpkin pie."
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Food and beer — an unconventional Thanksgiving recipe
Usually when we think about food and beer pairings, we pair the beer to the food. But chef Alejandra Schrader has come up with a creative, very unconventional Thanksgiving recipe by thinking first about the beer. Her open-face stuffed turkey sliders with cranberry-onion compote, thyme cornbread 'buns' and sweet potato chips take all the elements of a Thanksgiving meal and combine them into one amazing dish.
"As a trained architect," says Schrader, "I still think about food in layers, textures and dimensions. Once involved with food, it was only natural to deconstruct and reinterpret food staples… Doing this for a Thanksgiving dish has been really fun, especially when trying to keep the comforting aspect of the food while making it casual and suitable to pair with beer."
Chef Schrader recommends serving this dish with Fireman's Brew Blonde or another light, crisp beer with mild flavors that will complement the turkey as well as the goat cheese.
Up next: Open-face stuffed turkey sliders with cranberry-onion compote, thyme cornbread 'buns' and sweet potato chips recipe >>