Written by William Bostwick for Bon Appétit
The Thanksgiving table is defined by a golden turkey, a white tablecloth, family angst, and a festive bottle of…beer? That’s right. The holiday’s American roots and patchwork of flavors suit it to craft brew, which is often more versatile than wine and always more humble. Luckily, the best craft beers come in large-format packages that are worth showing off at the table.
Often fermented a second time in the bottle, like Champagne, beers such as wits (white beers) and saisons (farmhouse ales) are extra-bubbly, which means that the heavy, oversized glass and cage-reinforced cork serve a practical purpose. But the bottle is symbolic, too, of a beer to savor and, more important, to share. Maybe that’s why extra-large beers–whether wax-dipped, foil-wrapped, corked, or all three–look so good. These big bottles hold brews that are often strongly flavored and just plain stronger than their lower-alcohol 12-ounce siblings. So treat them like wine. (Smaller pours also mean a bottle will go farther.)
Our choices are lush but flexible, built to balance the flavors of a proper feast, from tart cranberries to rich gravy. These beers might be big, but they’ll go fast, so stock up: A bottle always looks its best when full.
5 AMERICAN BREWS TO BRING TO DINNER
Deschutes “The Abyss”
Clove and licorice, molasses and plums: a dark, dense fruitcake of a stout. Save this whopper for dessert. $13 for 22 oz.
Stone Smoked Porter
Tasting of sweet smoke and freshly roasted coffee beans, it works as well with roast turkey as it does with gooey desserts. $5 for 22 oz.
Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red
Partially aged in oak barrels, it’s a refreshing slice of sour pie to help cut through the meal’s big flavors. $10 for 750 ml
The Bruery “Autumn Maple”
Sweet potatoes give each batch a warm nuttiness, while maple syrup and molasses bring a slight sour tang. $10 for 750 ml
Ommegang Rare Vos (pictured above)
Brewed in the Belgian style with a touch of orange peel, coriander, and grains of paradise. $11 for 750 ml