Last November, when Brendon O’Brien, DeCicco’s Supermarket’s Merchant of Joy (and also, Director of Beer) and I sat down to discuss the ideal beverages to serve for the Thanksgiving Holiday Meal, little could we have known about the mayhem that would descend upon the whole world just a few months later. Who would have guessed that by Spring 2020 the brewing industry would be producing hand sanitizer, or that folks across the USA and beyond would be emulating super heroes, wearing our masks every time we left home to pick up a pack of beer, or that toilet roll would become more valuable than gold?
This Thanksgiving, as the Pandemic rolls on, instead of making our annual migration across the USA, to visit family for the Holiday and contributing to the Turkey cull in another State, we have been advised to stay at home to hang out with our immediate family and share our favorite beverages with them. The latest restrictions also meant that Brendon and I were unable to meet face to face. So instead, we have done our best to remotely assemble a list of our top 5 beverages for your Thanksgiving Meal. So I apologize in advance, if you miss the quirky pictures of yesteryear which were taken at DeCicco’s of Armonk, as despite the best Zoom has to offer, one cannot pour and drink the beers online yet!
After a great deal of cogitation and deliberation, with Brendon’s guidance, we have come up with what we think are a perfect set of 5 for Thanksgiving, when stuck at home. A positive quarantine dream team of libations!
Two are amazing local beers from the Hudson Valley, here in New York, another two are incredible British beers from our friends over in England, who are enduring their Second Lockdown as I type. We also have thrown a curveball by adding an extraordinary cider, also from the Hudson Valley, to cater to those on a gluten free, or low carb diet
Zeus Brewing Company – Queen City Pils 5.2%, Pilsner, Poughkeepsie, NY
To start one’s Thanksgiving Meal, we always look for something inviting, an easygoing beer you can hand to your guests, as they would have walked through the door in years gone by. The great news is we have the perfect newcomer today to fill the role, from a recently founded brewery right here in the Hudson Valley!
Zeus has quickly gained a reputation for making fantastic beer. This soft and easy drinking classic pilsner has a wonderful dry, quenching finish. The German hops with which it is brewed add a floral element that is lovely for pairing with assorted cheeses and charcuterie. A great beer for those appetizers. Such a clean drink it will also make a quaffable companion throughout your entire meal. As Brendon says rather enigmatically: “A beer that tastes like beer!”
Hudson North Cider Co. – Ginger Citrus 5% Cider with Ginger & Citrus, Newburgh, NY
This year we have strayed a little off the beery path but we feel that celebrating the Fall’s harvest without featuring New York apples (in liquid form) is simply unthinkable here in the Hudson Valley.
Hudson North turns out some fantastic, clean ciders that showcase ripe apple fruit with a crisp finish. Their Ginger Citrus cider is the perfect culinary companion, especially for Brendon and I who love to cook with what we are drinking!
Brimming with grapefruit, orange and lemony ginger notes, this cider is exponentially versatile in the kitchen. It would be remiss of us, if we failed to recommend that you cook your fresh cranberries with a hearty dose of this fine beverage. The dimension it will add to this classic Thanksgiving Meal side dish is simply incredible. However, why stop with the cranberry side, as a healthy basting of this throughout the day on your turkey will give that bird a delicious, caramelized skin with so much flavor.
This ginger citrus apple number is right at home with your main course, that Gobbler in Chief!
The Wild Beer Co. – Shnoodlepip 6.5% Barrel Aged Saison, Somerset, England
The philosophy of this brewery from the West Country of England is that they were “…born out of a love of fermentation, barrel-ageing and most importantly, flavour.” 100% true to this mission statement, they consistently produce beers of incredible complexity and dimension
The beer we have selected from their inventory for this year’s Thanksgiving 5, was brewed with pink peppercorns, passionfruit, and hibiscus and aged in red wine barrels for over 6 months. The result is a pleasantly tart and rustic Saison style with playful fruit and spice notes dancing throughout
With its wonderful flavor combination, it has the legs to last your entire Thanksgiving feast but if pressed, Brendon recommends it be served with your Turkey as he loves how it plays off the herbal and bready notes in one’s traditional stuffing. However, why not throw a splash of it into those cranberries too, for an added treat…..?
Eagle Brewery – Courage Russian Imperial Stout 10%, Russian Imperial Stout Bedford, England
This beer is a real showstopper, as well as an enduring classic. It was originally brewed as far back as 1795 for Catherine the Great of Russia. It is a huge, decadent stout which boasts notes of espresso, dates, figs as well as a subtle smokiness, that plays off the dense chocolate notes
It is a masterpiece of a beer and according to Eagle, is brewed just once a year. Although this beer could easily be your dinner and dessert in a glass, we feel that it is best imbibed at the end of the meal, over sweet, Its intriguing smoky quality and jam fruit presence are a rich way to compliment the end of this big festive meal. However, you might want to consider splashing a little of this fabulous brew in the brown gravy to accompany that bird earlier to give it an even bigger hit
However, some bad news: We understand it is no longer in production but Brendon tells me you can still find it at DeCiccos, as they got hold of a couple of cases of this gem before it ceased to be like so many things this Pandemic year, so if you want to try some history before it ceases to be available, please ask at your local DeCiccos beer bar for a bottle!
Newburgh Brewing Company – Cafe Sour 5.5% Sour Ale with Ethipian Yirgacheffe Coffee, Newburgh, NY
This one is a real head scratcher! We wonder whether you have ever had something so good that it simply should not make any sense at all? Well, this is the one! Café Sour, is a Sour Ale whose bright acidity beautifully accentuates the roasted, creamy and fruity qualities of the outstanding Ethiopian coffee with which it is brewed. In the words of that rather old INXS song, “two worlds colliding” for one of our favorite beers of all time (so far….)!
According to Brendon, if you are an aficionado of those oh so popular Italian Coffees with frothed milk, then this may well be these, in beer form
It is the perfect marriage for a Thanksgiving Dessert like rich Pumpkin Cheesecake. All the classic flavor pairings of coffee and dessert but with enough acidity to cut through the fat of that cheesecake and keep you ready for the next bite. In years past, this beer was available in draft only. However, this year, with the pandemic upon us, the Newburgh deities have blessed us with cans and this, for sure, is truly something for which we can be thankful for!
So, Thanksgiving this year is strange; but then, what about 2020 was not different? Brendon reminded me that if there was ever a day to focus on all the good that we still have, it is Thanksgiving
We are indeed blessed to live in times where the incredible cornucopia of craft brews is so readily available to us and that we can get to share our enjoyment of them with you, our readers and families all over the US and beyond
Have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!
Weblinks to the beer and cider maker/s featured in our post can be found here: