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Iconic 50: Craft beer (copy)

There's a beer style fit for every phase of Thanksgiving. Photo by Michael Bielecki

The ghouls and goblins that populate the moldy Masters of Brewtality crypt have always believed that Halloween is the first and last decent holiday of the year. Christmas? Presents are well and good, but we’re at an age where socks are a good score. The spice of life has officially left. Labor Day? We can’t wear white because it’s dirty as soon as it’s on. Easter? There’s something delightful about the unholy abomination that is a chocolate egg-laying rabbit, but overall? Nah. And Thanksgiving? It’s got all the worst things. Family time. A celebration of a historically inaccurate get-together that preceded an attempted genocide. That absurd turkey pardon tradition. That vegan cousin who insists that Tofurkey “tastes just as good as the real thing.” We’ve got no problem with people’s dietary choices, but no one likes an unappetizing lie. 

Fortunately, a fine craft beer at the right time makes everything tolerable, and we here at Masters of Brewtality believe firmly that all the time is the right time for a craft beer. We’re going to break down some suggestions on styles to pair with courses as well as experiences you might run into this next holiday. Now, assuming your family is like ours, which is basically a hideous and senseless assortment of terrifying monsters the likes of which kept Lovecraft awake at night, it’s going to start far too early in the day. The upside: It’s a perfect excuse to start drinking as soon as you wake up, and that’s exactly why the Coffee Kolsch was created. Featuring rich coffee flavors, malt and modest alcohol content, this brew dates back to the 16th century where it turned brewing culture in Cologne, Germany, on its head. When it first hit the scene, Kolsch was so popular and such a threat to the established beer community that they outlawed the entire style and all other bottom-fermented beers. Obviously, it didn’t stick and Kolsch is now one of the fastest rising styles on the planet. Both Mother Road’s and Flagstaff Brewing Company’s unique takes on these are the perfect way to start the day out. 

After a pre-breakfast beer or two, naturally you’re asking what kind of beer goes best with breakfast? We’re going to do what we do best here and that’s commit an act of heresy that involves drinking. For a day dedicated to epic, extended gluttony, stick to something light, healthy and high fiber, like oatmeal and a piece of fruit, but pair it with a beermosa. These are a cheap, easy twist on the pretentious mimosa, and you don’t have to bother with anything nice since it’s being mixed with orange juice anyways. A Pabst or Rolling Rock will do just fine. Our favorite go-to for crap beer: Old Style. There’s just something about that fizzy garbage water that does the trick.

What’s that?  Family is arriving? Now is time for a single big-gun blast aimed squarely at your sobriety. Grab a barley wine. Just chug it. Wanderlust and Lumberyard/Beaver Street have takes guaranteed to leave you pleasantly numb when that uncle no one likes immediately starts talking about that politician no one likes. You can do this with patience and grace. He’ll leave after dinner and, with a little luck, the next encounter will be at his funeral. 

As dinner is being prepared, we’ve found it best to ease up a bit. Switch to a nice sessionable IPA or an amber. Nothing too high in alcohol, as you’re going to want a few since the food always takes forever. Dark Sky Brewing’s Get Your Ass to Marzen, if it’s still available, is perfect, but Mother Road’s Tower Station does the trick just fine, too. 

When the main course finally makes it out, we suggest brews on the subtle side of the flavor spectrum like a brown or simple lager that won’t overpower the flavors of the holiday staples. The Nut Brown Ale from Oak Creek Brewing has been a favorite over the years as the slightly sweet nutty flavor complements the smokiness of turkey and savory taste of stuffing and gravy. And, since there’s food now at play, it’ll kill any buzz you’ve managed to accumulate, so drink up. We can’t legally recommend getting really, really stoned directly before the meal, but performance enhancing drugs seem to work out well for professional athletes, and Thanksgiving is like a marathon of eating. But remember, your family knows exactly what you and your sketchy cousin are doing when you take that pre-meal “walk.”

On to dessert. You’ve made it and, hopefully, without bloodshed. Bring on the strong pumpkin beers! Historic does an amazing Pumpkin Piehole Porter every fall that goes perfectly with any dessert your grandma could (metaphorically) throw at you. Or maybe literally, our readership is generally a maligned and despised group in most normal settings. Don’t be afraid to have a few as it’ll just make you more emotional when everyone is packing up to head home. It’s always best to leave a strong ending impression, so don’t be afraid to gush brazen lies about wanting to do this more.

Now pass out, brave holiday survivor. You earned it. 

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