Christian DeBenedetti (@WeeklyPint) grew up on a hazelnut farm in Oregon's Willamette Valley. He's the author of the award-winning craft brew travel guide The Great American Ale Trail (Running Press). Christian teams up here with Whole Foods Market Associate Beverage Buyer Devon Broglie to pair winter brews with your favorite holiday foods.
It’s time to give thanks for great beer. Are you with us? Thought so. “Holidays are about gift-giving, work parties, family gatherings, friends, and the alcohol that makes it all more tolerable,” says Devon Broglie, Whole Food Market’s in-house Associate Global Beverage Buyer, meaning he’s the lucky devil in charge of craft beer. We checked in with Broglie — who also holds the lofty rank of Master Sommelier — to see what he’s recommending this season for a variety of occasions.Thanks to the incredible national beer aisle these days, our own choices tend to roam from crisp session ales during the big games to bold, after-dinner sippers aged in French oak. As for Broglie, it turns out we’re on the same page. His smart seasonal beer selections appear below, encouraging shoppers to try out locals-only brews, too. “Every region in the country has a fine selection of enthusiastic, entrepreneurial brewers who are making excellent products,” he says. What beer will you be drinking most as the mercury drops and the parties hop?
With colder nights come bigger, belly-warming beers that are the perfect accompaniment to richer, seasonal fare.
Drink it with: Buttery cheeses; sweet breads; spice cake; squash, yams, and sweet potatoes; hearty meats and stews.
But, because of the setting or scoreline, sometimes you’re looking for quantity without the big buzz...
What to drink: Full Sail Session Lager (5.1%abv), a pre-Prohibition style lager that is flavorful and refreshing. I love this beer for the holidays.
Drink it with: You can drink it with anything or for any occasion.
Drinking the best requires no holiday. The character and quirks of Belgian beers keep us coming back year-round, but especially these cool winter months with fulsome winter dishes. Broglie agrees.
What to Drink: Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont (6.5%abv). A farmhouse style ale with a dense creamy head, citrus and spicy notes and full bodied maltiness. This is an exceptionally drinkable and refreshing brew.
Drink it with: If any beer is great to pair with a meal it is Dupont Saison. Coq-au-Vin, Beef Bourguignon, or a saison-marinated whole roasted chicken would be an amazing meal.
With heftier spice and booze levels, these go nicely in the stockings of beer lover — and on the feast table.
What to drink: Anchor Christmas Ale (5.5%abv). A rich brew of specially selected malt, hops and spices that’s different every year — as is the tree on the label — but the intent with which Anchor offers it remains the same: “joy and celebration of the newness of life.”
Drink it with: This would be perfect to begin an evening with alongside a cheese and charcuterie plate. Try the nutty Robusto or Rogue Creamery Caveman blue and a selection of salumis from Olli Salumeria like their Calabrese or Hot Chorizo.
We know it’s not beer, but we love it anyway. Ciders have come a long way from the sticky sweet stuff on the end of the tap row. These days, the best ciders pair beautifully with various appetizers, main dishes, and cheeses.
What to Drink: Crispin Hard Cider (5%abv), a classically styled, yet non-traditional hard apple cider. It’s fruit forward, with a fresh, crunchy apple-y nose and a deliciously refreshing, crisp mouth feel.
Drink it with: I would have this cider before dinner as an aperitif or with roasts and stews. Hearty cheeses like Borough Market Clothbound Cheddar would also be delicious with this.
Quiz: What brand of beer is Eddie drinking in Chevy Chase’s “Christmas Vacation” (1989)?
C Coors Banquet Beer
D Meister Brau
What’s your favorite holiday beer? Tell me in the comments below.
Subscribe to Weekly Pint, Christian DeBenedetti’s free, twice-weekly, national e-newsletter on craft beer.