Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Giving Thanks With Beer and Food

By Jay Brooks
Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 at 5:39 pm in On Beer.

It’s time once again for Bruce Paton, better known as the Beer Chef, to share some of his culinary magic with us, this time around on the subject of pairing beer with the upcoming Thanksgiving meal.

Bruce Paton, the Beer Chef

Food & Beer with Bruce Paton

Giving Thanks With Beer and Food

So here it is time once again to embark on the Holiday Season and with the economy slowly rising from the ashes it is time to gather with family and friends and celebrate at the dinner table albeit with an eye on the old pocketbook. As a professional chef I have spent a lot of time in hotel kitchens preparing Thanksgiving feasts for those who would rather go out on the town and celebrate to avoid going through all the muss and fuss of turning their homes into a busy restaurant for one evening and facing the daunting task of cleaning up after being sated by copious amounts of food and spirits. Also there is the possibility that they are following a long-standing family tradition or maybe they are just to tired out from the rigors of work and the other factors of life that tend to wear folks down. As a professional chef I have also spent a lot of time in the kitchens of family, friends and colleagues either orchestrating or assisting in the preparation of many a holiday meal because this is one of the things I really take pleasure in. One of the reasons I became a professional chef is that I enjoy making people happy through food as well as the instant emotional rewards that the process can bring. There are also the feelings of accomplishment of creating something from start to finish and the celebration of a job well done. If you are indeed eyeballing your wallet like a great many of us “home for the holidays” is a great way to go. In order to wash down your holiday meal without raiding your retirement plan beer is an excellent choice as well.

So lets get started and have some fun with beer and food. Whether you plan on sticking to the traditional Thanksgiving line up of turkey, stuffing, yams and pumpkin pie or you want to branch out and do something else beer and assist you in many ways. After you have decided on the menu and the guest list, sent out the invitations and done all your shopping I would recommend opening a beer and pouring yourself a glass. As well you know there are a litany of beers to choose from and I would suggest availing yourself of a few different styles for the various parts of the day and evening. For the chef’s consumption during the cooking chores I would choose something light and refreshing to quench your thirst as you toil over the cutting board and hot stove or grill. Might I suggest a Trumer Pilsner, Lagunitas Czech Style or maybe a Saison Dupont so that you are hydrated and alert when your guests arrive. Beer also makes a wonderful ingredient for some of the holiday menu items. If you are bringing your turkey, beer can be added to the liquid to give a more complex flavor to the final result. Try adding some Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar to the candied yams or a splash of Paulaner Hefeweizen to your salad dressing the possibilities are endless. A further benefit of cooking with beer is that you can consume the leftovers and nothing goes to waste. As for beer with the hors D’Oeuvre portion you may offer you guests some Pilsner or Saison (if there is any remaining) or perhaps a medley of choices augmenting those two choices with the Hefeweizen and some Russian River Blind Pig. When it is time to sit down for the feast there are a myriad of options to accompany the noble bird. There is the beer of Ocktoberfest, a malty German style Marzen (brewed in March to be consumed in October) that will complement the roasted flavors of the turkey or possibly a Chimay Grand Reserve (after all we are celebrating aren’t we) to add to the rich flavors of the dinner meal. Again ther are a plethora of choices for beer as well as any number of ways to upgrade the menu items to add a little pizzazz. So get the menu figured out and shopping list started and get down to City Beer on Folsom near Eighth Street and you will be all set.


Chef Bruce
The Beer Chef

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • wendy littlefield

    Hi Jessica, Jay & Bruce – Happy Thanksgiving! You can be sure we will be serving Saison Dupont to our crowd with the holiday bird and some nutmeg dusted brussels sprouts.
    We’ll be in CA in New Year. Thanks for the excellent pairing suggestions. WL & DF