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Cooking with Beer, Thanksgiving Edition

From The Iron Horse Brewery Blog

Cooking with Beer, Thanksgiving Edition


Mostly because we’ve never been any good at imagining anything as-is, we wanted to reimagine Thanksgiving as a flighted dinner of traditional dishes, paired with our beers. But, we have an Advanced Cicerone ® in our ranks, so not only can we provide such inspiration straight from our own food and beverage enthusiasm and experimentation, we (Rikki) banged out super helpful, scientifically backed tips for the occasion.

According to the IHB Slack:

  • Greg once brined a turkey using our beer
  • Devin suggests leftover turkey sandwiches and Mid-Light Crises (the official unofficial brew of the day after T-giving)
  • Social media step-cousin  can’t get the idea of Green Bean Casserole and Timothy Hay-Z out of her head
  • Jared pretty much thinks using an apple corer to remove the center of can of cranberry sauce and pouring some High Five Hefe in the middle IS the ideal beer and food pairing solution.

In essence, our thumbs have a space bar and show approval of a few standout ideas. But Rikki’s thumbs have rules for beer and food pairing that will serve us well past the holiday. You’re welcome.

 Rule of thumb(s) for beer and food pairing for Thanksgiving related meals.

By Rikki Welz


Match intensities

Make it an even fight between balanced partners to ensure one does not simply overwhelm

the other. An Imperial IPA paired with a cucumber sandwich would be a good example: way too much versus way too little flavor.


The three C’s

  1. Complement

Look for foods/beers that have flavors that are similar. For example, the dark caramel, roasty flavors of the Irish Death work with the dark sweet roasty flavors of a brisket. The honey and ginger of the High Five Hefe find its match in a Thai ginger salad dressing.

  1. Contrast

Look for food/beer flavors that though are opposite, they make the dish

better by their balancing act. A very sweet chocolate cake with the roasty bitterness of the Cozy

Sweater. A carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (so sweet, so creamy), with a Mel’s IPA where the bitterness from the hops balance the sweet creamy frosting while the orange creamsicle-like aromatic hops can enhance the overall earthy sweetness of the cake.

  1. Cut

Find ways that the pairing can cancel out a flavor or experience that may become too intense. Cream cheese with pepper jelly can coat the tongue with the gooey sticky combo, while a Mid-Light Crisis can scrub the tongue free of the coating. The roasty malt Cozy Sweater could also help by cutting through the spice of the jelly (and contrast the sweetness

of the dish).

Bonus rules and tips:

Avoid Clashing

 Like OJ and Toothpaste, some flavors just don’t work well. Avoid IPA and Salmon

as a pair (it turns very metallic, very quickly), and consider the flavors of the dish

and flavors of the beer before you start trying to mash them together. A Timothy

Hay-Z IPA just wouldn’t quite work right with the smoked salmon appetizers, but

would be wonderful with spinach salad featuring blue cheese, bacon, and walnuts.


Taste Test and Tweak

The most fun part of any holiday for me is hanging out on the border of the kitchen

while the cooks prepare the feast. I use this time to also sneak a spoonful

here, and a sliver there, of the dishes we are having, to make sure that the beers

I was thinking of,  would actually work. Oh no, we have to taste-test our work… what a

shame. Woe is us.

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