A Review of the Best Beers For Your Thanksgiving Gathering


Last year I made the controversial declaration that pumpkin pie was far and away the best Thanksgiving food. As you can imagine, this stirred up quite a bit of controversy. I received a flood of angry letters, some more memorable than others.


In the interest of fairness, I’ve decided to give the standard Thanksgiving constituents another chance to prove themselves. I can think of no purer way to determine this than the single-elimination tournament bracket.

tourney1Game 1: Turkey vs. Green Beans

This one was a blowout. Green beans contain chlorophyl and thus have no place in a truly American feast.

Winner: TURKEY

Game 2: Stuffing vs. Pumpkin Pie

Stuffing once held a marginal place at the Thanksgiving table because it was the only course that didn’t require a pot on an already crowded stovetop. It makes me wonder how many other things they tried cooking in a turkey’s ass before that became the de facto dinner suppository. Regardless, since that cooking technique is now reputed to infuse the Thanksgiving repast with more Salmonella than flavor, it has simply become a bready spitwad consuming table real estate. Pass.


tourney3Game 3: Mashed Potatoes vs. Yams

I’m not sure how two different iterations of baby food became Thanksgiving staples, but since they’re competing we’ll call it a wash.

This one is a close call. Ultimately, they are both starchy suspensions of butter. However, yams take the edge on this one because they are the only dinner course where it is still socially acceptable to melt marshmallows atop it. I’m not sure why that hasn’t caught on elsewhere.

Winner: YAMS

Game 4: Dinner Rolls vs. Drunken Outbursts From My Secretly Gay Brother

Dinner rolls may not be the most exciting dish, but they have the distinction of not drinking too much chardonnay and tearfully declaring our family an “emotional warzone”. Thanks, dinner rolls.


tourney5Game 5: Turkey vs. Pumpkin Pie

Looks like these top seeds are meeting a bit earlier than expected, but sometimes that’s how the wishbone breaks.

This is an agonizing choice. It’s asking someone to choose between their children, but since they aren’t identical twins one isn’t totally disposable. I guess the only criteria I can go with here is consistency. Over my life I have had far more miserable, dry pieces of turkey than I’ve had bad slices of pie. Pumpkin pie, by being required to be little more than sweet, orange pulp basically has far less capacity for failure.


Game 6: Yams vs. Dinner Rolls

I’m not gonna lie. There was no way I was going to pit yams against pumpkin pie because, minus the crust, they are effectively the same stuff. So when Dinner Rolls came around with a fat envelope of payola, the tournament found itself with another upset victory.


tourney7FINAL ROUND: Pumpkin Pie vs. Dinner Rolls

In one corner, we have a bag of stale, likely store-bought rolls dragged to the meal as an afterthought by whatever family member is bucking to be regarded the least helpful. In the other we have a dessert that, even at it worst, is a vehicle to get the curiously non-dairy wonder “Cool Whip” in our maw. No contest.

And the winner is:

tourney8aThere you have it – proof positive that pumpkin pie is yet again the definitive Thanksgiving treat and the foodstuff most worthy of a beery tribute. Green bean beers, you can just sit your ass back down on the bench. Maybe next year.

La Citrueille Celeste de Citracado (5% ABV) – Stone Brewing

stone_pumpkinThis award winning beer (in the category of “Most Needlessly Pretentious and Unpronounceable Beer Name”) is a Stone collaboration with Elysian Brewery in Seattle and The Bruery in Placentia, CA. It translates to The Heavenly Pumpkin of Citracado, which sounds a bit overblown until you’ve heard the legends of its stigmata and spontaneous curing of the sick.

lourdes_beer“It is said its mystical condensation gives sight to the blind and erections to the flaccid”

This mahogany brew has a strong maple presence in the nose with a light aroma of yams and lemon-scented floor cleanser. It’s not the typical cinnamon/nutmeg pumpkin spice profile for a pumpkin beer, but it aligns with the beer treating the pumpkin more as an entree than a dessert.

The pumpkin flavor is certainly a contributor here, but I think the yams soften it from tasting like a squash puree. A vegetal, herbal bitterness takes hold pretty early on, which I think distracts from the pumpkin notes a bit too much. Still, it finishes light and dry, so this would probably make a pretty decent accompaniment to the Thanksgiving meal itself (assuming you’ve already emptied the flask you keep in your hip pocket to survive such family affairs).

Grade: B

Rumpkin (15.9% ABV) Avery Brewing Co.


This muddy amber brew’s nose is awash in rum, cinnamon and vanilla. Still for all those components going into the smell, the most prominent flavor is ginger. From the instant Rumpkin hits your tongue to the time it departs, the experience is dominated by the spice and heat that the rum and ginger bring to the table.

drunk-pumpkinPictured: Other pumpkins dominated by booze

Of all the pumpkin beers I’ve had this one serves the best pumpkin pie role. It’s caramel sweet, smells like a boozier version of an actual pumpkin pie, and has no real bitterness to speak of. However, I can barely make out the pumpkin itself beneath the spice and tartness of this beer.

This would make a hell of a desertif, but I feel like the pumpkin got short shrift on this one. Pro-tip: try putting a teaspoon of this over actual pumpkin ice cream and prepare for your tongue to abandon its God in favor of worshiping me.

Grade: B+