Thanksgiving Traditions: Please Pass the Beer

Watchin' football with the other turkeys

In my Thanksgiving post last year I hinted at the fact that this is not exactly my favorite holiday. I may have also insinuated that it takes alcohol to get me through an entire day with my family, which isn’t really fair: I also have to be bribed there with the promise of my Aunt’s pumpkin pie. I only have a week left to prepare, so here is my game plan for now.

We’re always asked to arrive at one-o-clock for a two-o-clock dinner; dinner is never actually on the table before light leaves the sky, so we will arrive at two or three. Since I know I still have quite a wait before real food is served I’ll grab a session beer. A bitter would just be too easy, so I go with my favorite session at the moment, Founder’s All Day IPA — full of flavor, not alcohol. For the one and only time this year, I will find football fascinating. I’ll join my male relatives, who’ve also discovered a spontaneous love of the game, in the dog fur-coated den.

The November light grows thinner and the smell of cooking meat grows stronger. As a vegetarian, I begin to rehearse my yearly explanation for loading up my plate with green bean casserole and mashed potatoes with no gravy. I will need a thinking beer, something bright and effervescent and strong. I’ll go with one I just recently tried, Dogfish Head’s Burton Baton, which is aged in oak barrels. That takes the alcohol edge off the taste enough that I’ll feel the effects of the 10% abv before I taste it.

Feeling slightly lighter and brighter myself, I will play out my strategy and seat myself between two relatives I haven’t seen for at least a year, both of whom are consuming their own holiday cheer. In solidarity we will lift three glasses of Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch, a Belgian IPA, which is bold enough to cut through the most Midwestern of creamy casseroles and inappropriate enough to keep us snickering like we were at the kids’ table.

When all the tofurky jokes have been made and all the cats are gnawing on stray butter rolls under the table, we will turn our attention to the pies and tarts and cookies. Many people don’t believe beer is a suitable dessert beverage, but many people also voted for a man who believes God lives on a planet, so I really just don’t know what to think anymore. Instead I’ll have a beer for dessert. Stouts and porters are of course ideal, as their roasted maltiness goes so well with chocolate, and I think this year I’ll hit up some Left Hand Milk Stout, which is even creamier than the Right Hand Milk Stout.

This is the point in the evening that catches me every time: we’re done eating; it’s time to go home. No. It’s time to continue talking about our relatives who weren’t around the table with us today. But I am so stuffed I hardly know where I could fit another beer. So, something light and delicate is called for, so I’ll pick up a Goose Island Berliner Weisse. This style is a bubbly beer that is tart, sour, and citrusy. Many put in syrup to flavor it (traditionally raspberry or woodruff), but I want to feel refreshed. Very low abvs too, which is great because all those tofurkophans are making me sleepy anyway.