Top Turkey Beers: Brews for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is now just a week away, so if you haven’t yet decided on which beers to serve with your turkey, now is the time. You need brews that will stand up to the taste but not overpower it; a delicate balance indeed. My three favorite styles to pair with turkey dinner, and all the fixings, are Amber Ales, Oktoberfests and Brown Ales (English or American will do).

Looking for an even heavier push in the right direction? Ok, ok, I’ve got a bit more up my sleeve. Here are some of my personal choices for each of the three styles.

Amber Ale

Ithaca Beer Company Cascazilla
The first time I had this American Amber was at a beer fest that we attended about 2 years ago at Hamburg Fairgrounds. Described as “monstrously hoppy,” this red ale packs a 7% ABV punch with a touch of sweetness behind the hops to pair perfectly with your turkey dinner.

Flying Bison Aviator Red
The maltier side of American Ambers, Flying Bison’s Aviator Red remains one of my true favorite brews (although I do enjoy a hoppy beer at times, my heart tends to pull to the malt overall) and another great beer to enjoy with turkey and all of the fixings. The caramel flavors with hints of cherries even pair well with the cranberry sauce!


Samuel Adams Oktoberfest
Although I’m not a huge fan of everything Samuel Adams, I do enjoy their Oktoberfest brew, plus they’re generally easy to find for most of America, and therefore a good bet for your Thanksgiving dinner. Crisp carbonation and good balance keeps your palate clean throughout the meal.

Custom BrewCrafters Oktoberfest
Slightly sweeter than the Sam Adams offering, Custom BrewCrafters Oktoberfest Lager features molasses-like malts with hints of hops for proper balance. If you prefer your brews to have a heavier mouthfeel, choose this chewy brew over the Sam Adams Oktoberfest for your holiday feast.

Brown Ale

Newcastle Brown Ale
Newcastle Brown Ale offers a nutty, slightly chocolaty nose and taste that pairs well with the sweeter side of your turkey dinner. Medium bodied with light carbonation, you can enjoy a few of these throughout the meal but probably not too many.

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
I wouldn’t describe this American Brown as a session beer either, but it definitely has more balance between hops and malt than the English Brown Ale above, so if you’re looking to pair a brown ale with your meal but require a kick of hops to better stand up to your food, this is a great way to go. Its champagne-like carbonation is a nice addition too.

Have your own beer and turkey pairing suggestions? Please share them with us! Plus, check out Deron’s suggestions from last year.



  • Travis November 19, 2009 @ 11:14am

    I am going to be pairing up our pumpkin ale with dessert. It goes right along with your suggestions, as it is a brown ale at heart.

  • Hannah November 19, 2009 @ 11:18am

    Travis – indeed it does! Might a sour cream apple pie be involved? That tastes great with pumpkin ale!

  • M November 19, 2009 @ 8:24pm

    I love a good oktoberfest…but I haven’t been able to find any here in Buffalo. They started selling Winter Ale a month ago…. I must admit though…I’m definitely a wine gal on holidays though…not sure why…but my recycling bin is usually full of about 4-5 different empty bottles. Just did my shopping today for some…now I just need to keep my paws off of them until Thursday morning. Yes…i said Thursday morning…HA!

  • Hannah November 20, 2009 @ 8:43am

    M – I’m coming over to YOUR joint Thursday morning! But I must admit, I will bring beer 🙂

  • Deron November 20, 2009 @ 1:33pm

    M – I’ve noticed that Oktoberfest/fall seasonals got pulled from the shelves much earlier this year than any other year. Sam Adams Oktoberfest was gone just days after Halloween, in favor of their Winter Lager. I’ve heard that it’s got something to do with the fact that the distributors give each outlet X amount of beer, and once it’s gone, it’s gone – onto the next seasonal. I’m sure if you hunted around a bit, you would still be able to find some. Might I suggest Frontier Beverage on Grant Street?

  • M November 20, 2009 @ 1:58pm

    Come one come all on T-Day morning :o)
    Never heard of Frontier Beverage though Deron, but I will definitely be googling that. I do though need to hit up the Elmwood Beer Merchant as anytime I walk by I find myself standing in the window drooling. They seem to be closed anytime I want to go 🙁 I think I’m going to plan a beer tasting party and my dear friend Hannah will have to help me come with up a list of *must have* beers. MMMmmmm….Just thinking about it is making me thirsty!

  • Hannah November 20, 2009 @ 2:35pm

    M – I would be HONORED to rally up a beer tasting party with you! I’ve got tons of great suggestions from Deron and my own taste travels!

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