By: Paula Polei

It’s that time of year when everyone gets that warm, fuzzy feeling about how thankful they are for those around them. Each year on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans gather for a day of feasting with family. This year, I asked Luciano Scremin, Owner/Brewmaster at Engine 15 Brewing Company, to share his traditions during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Engine 15 Brewing Company | Luciano Scremin | Jacksonville, FL
We are most thankful for a healthy, happy family. We don’t have family living close to us in Jacksonville, so before we had kids we were invited over to friends’ homes for big family-type feasts. Now that we have kids and plan big dinners, we make sure to invite plenty of friends and colleagues who might find themselves without that atmosphere on Thanksgiving. It’s like paying it forward while getting to spend quality time with friends – a win, win situation!

We love craft beer and love sharing our passion. We always find room at the table for our favorites from Engine 15 Brewing and from the other local breweries near us. Nothing says fall like a good pumpkin beer or Oktoberfest. We have our Pumpmaster and our Das Oktoberfest at the table, as well as a couple of growlers of local favorites like Double Overhead. We choose these styles because big beers are easy to share and pumpkin and Oktoberfest are just right for the season.

Craft Beer at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Craft Beer Pairings
Everyone’s traditions (and taste buds) are different. But, craft beer has a lot to offer when paired with your Thanksgiving feast. Once you’ve figured out your menu, your next step is to figure out the craft beer you’re going to serve with it. Here are a few suggestions.

Game Time Snacks and Appetizers
Pilsners – If you plan on serving bruschetta, shrimp or light salads as appetizers, this should be your go-to beer. Its light color and taste make it perfect for foods that aren’t too heavy. Both sharp and delicate with a spicy bite of hops, this style is just bold enough not to overwhelm your palate or the malty flavors underneath.

Pale Ales – Pale ales typically have a nice balance of hops and malts. They might feature fruity and floral notes and have a range of bitterness, making this style a suitable pairing for cheese and shrimp appetizers.

Main Course
Farmhouse Ales – These brews have the perfect balance of bitter and sweet, and pair nicely with turkey as the main course. Almost all farmhouse ales are very dry and super effervescent, but really refreshing to quench your thirst when eating the main course. Their high fizz and sharp bitterness make them the perfect palate cleansers.

Belgians – These brews are light in body, effervescent and so refreshing that they pair really nicely with your Thanksgiving main course of turkey. In my opinion, this beer gets top billing due to its aromatic spices and hints of fruity, spicy or earthy flavors. It’s a must-have at our table every Thanksgiving.

Barleywine – These brews have a very lively, fruity flavor, and usually have a nice sweetness to them. The American version typically has more of a hopped, bitter flavor, while the English version is more rounded and balanced between malt and hops. Most barleywines can be cellared for years and tend to age like wine.

Milk Stout – These brews typically have more body and a sweetness that counters the roasted character. Many brewers add lactose to the brew to add body and sweetness, offering an appropriately sweet counterpart to your pecan and pumpkin pies.

Craft Beer at Thanksgiving 2

As a general rule, the more hop bitterness the beer has, the heartier your meal needs to be, so the beer doesn’t overpower your feast. You also don’t want to overwhelm your palate or the meal your chef has worked so hard to prepare. Generally speaking, try to keep sweet foods with sweet beers, and tart foods with tart beers. Try to keep your beer sweeter or tarter than the food on your plate. Although, sometimes it’s best to just go with what your taste buds like. What one person likes, another might not. You might want to experiment by matching foods with complimentary flavors, or contrasting them to create a slew of unique results.

No matter what your Thanksgiving tradition, what beverage of choice you’ll have in your hand, or what excites you most about craft beer, we give thanks to all of you who help make it possible this holiday season. Cheers to all of our craft beer friends out there. This holiday season, we are thankful for you!