The scene on Christmas morning is usually messy and chaotic. Wrapping paper everywhere, kids running around with candy canes, stockings emptied, half constructed toys for kids of all ages lying unattended on the floor. But then, there is the calm of a grand Christmas feast.
Usually wine is served but beer is finally being recognized as an excellent accompaniment to food. In that spirit, here are some suggested beers to pair with the familiar foods of the holidays. I have skewed the list to beers that should still be available to Los Angeles residents and should also match the un-Christmas-y weather we enjoy on this special day.
First, don’t tell me you don’t sneak a candy cane or a chocolate (or three) before dinner. Everyone does it. So what would you drink before the table is ready? Telegraph Winter Ale from Santa Barbara. It is made with spices that are familiar to fans of Mexican hot chocolate. It is big and hearty in a lovely corked bottle and can be shared with friends as you talk about who got what and who should have got a lump of coal.
This being the second time around for turkey, it might be harder to surprise your guests with a memorable brew. Here is what you can do: If it is the traditional turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, I would suggest going for something hoppier to add a little punch. Sierra Nevada Celebration would do the trick. Not as hoppy as their Torpedo IPA but pleasantly bitter. Or you could add some spruce tips to the flavor profile with Alaskan Brewing’s Winter Ale.
Now if you are going all fancy with either a dry rubbed or deep fried turkey you would want to go with a lighter beer to accent the more complex flavors you are adding to the bird. Go for a Christmas Belgian like Fantôme de Noël. A saison that is bold but not as heavy as others and with a less upfront alcohol bite.
Christmas means holiday ham instead of turkey for some gatherings, I would again go for something lighter like a Wassail from Full Sail in Oregon that has some spice and malt notes but does not overpower food. It will also go well with many of the sides like mashed potatoes and other vegetables.
Then it comes to dessert. Pie is the most common choice. Usually of the pumpkin variety. What is called for here is something that can cut the rich aroma and texture of the pumpkin. I would sample something like Moylan’s Winter Witbier. It is just sharp enough and with mild spices that it should pair well with the spices from the pie.
If you are still standing at this point, I have one final beer to sip by the dying embers of the fire. Old Foghorn from Anchor Brewing. You have probably already had the Christmas beer from Anchor but as Christmas slips away for another year, it is a great time to try this aged beauty made with Cascade hops. Get some snifters out and have everyone try a sample.
I wish all of you fine Food GPS readers a wonder holiday season filled with great beer and great food. Your homework is to come up with a beer that pairs with figgy pudding.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.