You’ve got the bird. Now the important question -- what to wash it down with.
You've got the bird. Now the important question -- what to wash it down with. (Courtesy photo)

The day before Thanksgiving. You've spent days planning out the menu -- even if it's your traditional menu with just a few twists. Now is the time to think about what you'll be drinking.

For years, before they drill down to specifics, people have pondered red or white when it comes to wine. In Boulder, a place that loves its beer, the debate might be framed as malty vs. hoppy. As it turns out, the answer in both cases is frequently the same: both.

Joe Osborne, marketing director for Avery Brewing Co., has already done some beer pairing for this year's Thanksgiving.

"I just had and early Thanksgiving with my mom and dad leaving town," he says.

As with many families, the menu was what he describes as "standard."

"We don't get creative with Thanksgiving. We try to make the standard things better every year," he says. Included this year were turkey, stuffing with walnuts and cranberries, mashed potatoes with mozzarella cheese mixed in, homemade cranberry sauce, rolls and sweet potatoes.

"With all that food, very rich food -- we're talking fatty, buttery, all that good yumminess -- we did two things, contrast and complement," he says.

On the contrast side was Avery IPA.

"Sometimes you want something to cut through," he says. "(IPA) is so good with turkey and gravy. I couldn't stop taking a bit (of turkey), taking a swig of IPA. I kind of nerded out on it. It was really fun."


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But the menu also provided plenty of room for brown ales and stouts. With the sweet potatoes, Osborne liked Old Jubilation, a strong brown ale. For dessert -- pecan pie in this case -- he recommends stouts, especially the high-alcohol-by-volume (ABV) types such as Avery's Mephistopheles'. Osborne's family did a tour of stouts from Avery and other breweries at dessert.

"It's an awesome place to go with high ABV stouts," he says.

Ian Clark,  chef at Centro Latin Kitchen in Boulder, pours a brown ale that he brewed himself, called Obitus, which will complement any Thanksgiving dinner
Ian Clark, chef at Centro Latin Kitchen in Boulder, pours a brown ale that he brewed himself, called Obitus, which will complement any Thanksgiving dinner with its roasty taste. (Jessica Cuneo /For the Camera )

Ian Clark, chef at Centro Latin Kitchen, knows a thing or two about beer. In addition to his cheffing duties, he also runs a nanobrewery in his garage, BRU Handbuilt Ales, which supplies some beer selections to Centro and sometimes to other Big Red F restaurants.

Clark is of the complement school of pairing.

"When I think about Thanksgiving, I think about malty, rich beers," he says. "You want something with malt backbone -- brown ales, any kind of Christmas beers.

"You want a beer that's malty and thick and will stand up to all those mashed potatoes," he says.

Clark also addresses a key element of beer pairing: what to drink while you're cooking the feast.

"I'll probably start off cooking with something a little lighter, a pilsner or a pale ale," he says. "When we get into dinner, I want something roasty, a winter warmer or brown ale. As we progress, stronger alcohol Belgian-style beers to match that sweetness."

What about cooking with beer?

Osborne of Avery says maltier beers are generally best, since they reduce to their sugars and add flavor. He says Avery's White Rascal also makes a great reduction, since its elements of citrus and coriander come to the fore.