Picture it: It's Thanksgiving, just after dinner, and your man is groaning audibly while watching the aunts scarf down cherry cheesecake and yammer on about someone's new boyfriend.
I'm not talking about eating too much on Thanksgiving, but drinking too much. I'm talking about, while awash with celebratory spirit, starting the afternoon with a high ABV beer, and ending my evening in a bloated booze coma. Folks, it's not fun. Don't make the same mistake I've made.
Thanksgiving is a day to forget reality for a bit, to engage in—hopefully—friendly conversation and spend time with the people you—hopefully—love. If you're a beer drinker, that means maybe wanting to tear into that bomber or specialty Christmas ale after walking in the door. That can mean trouble. Instead, start with something crisp, light, and sessionable. And if there's room in the tank after dinner, that's the time to pop open that beast (I tend to go for barleywine, FYI).
Here are some recommendations for local Thanksgiving afternoon beers, and one dessert beer.
There's a difference between what makes a perfect pilsner and what makes a good pilsner. Crisp with a hoppy bite, B52's version may not be the former (to be fair, anyone striving for pilsner perfection is fighting a hell of a battle), but it's certainly in the latter camp. Its varied hoppy character separates it from what some might call traditional, but here it's not that strong. That means you can have a few and not feel weighed down.
Great Heights Amber
In a pinch, a good amber will always do just fine. But Great Heights' version is an outstanding choice for Thanksgiving, as it has a toasted malt flavor that sets you up for the hearty autumnal feast awaiting you. It's warming, spicy, and soothing while still being eminently sessionable at 5.3 percent ABV.
Spindeltap Honey Hole
This ESB (extra-special bitter) is a relatively clean and malty beer that finishes with sweetness. If you're hoping to crack into some big Belgian later in the day, go here first to capture that sugary taste without blowing out your belly.
We're in the midst of a brandy trend, and why not? Creating that Norman Rockwell vision of after-dinner enjoyment—fireside, and in a robe, naturally—seems very millennial. Beyond that, it's delicious. Sigma makes good use of it in this potent, aged old ale with a noticeable cherry kick. The balance of bitter tannin, sweet fruit and toasted dark malt is the stuff Thanksgiving nights were made of.