Everybody brings wine to dinner. Imagine how surprised your hosts will be when you show up at their front door on Thanksgiving with beer!
Seriously, let’s show people just how classy a bottle of beer can be. Craft beer has graduated to the point where it should be just as acceptable to serve a bottle of fine ale to well-dressed dinner guests as a bottle of wine. You have to be choosy, though. Plopping a six of Heineken next to the bowl of cranberries isn’t going to cut it. You need an appropriately elegant beer that will complement the meal - the turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the yams. You need something that a few people can share, so that everyone isn’t just sucking down 12 ounces from their own bottle. You need something like these:
Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Rogue, the Oregon brewer best known for its Dead Guy Ale, makes this fine beer, which is a brown ale with a twist: It is brewed with hazelnut extract. The result is a clean, dark beer of medium body with unusual nutty notes.
Hazelnut Brown Nectar pours with no head, just an oily sheen atop a rusty brown translucent liquid. If you swish the beer around, you get a light tan head that releases a sweet aroma with hazelnut accents. Malt - several kinds are used in the brew - dominate the taste, along with hazelnut, and a suggestion of cherries.
Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar is 6.2 percent alcohol by volume. A 22-ounce bottle costs about $7.
The Bruery Autumn Maple
Now, this is a Thanksgiving beer! The Bruery, a small brewer in Orange County, Calif., has a well-earned reputation for making outstanding beer. Autumn Maple is essentially a strong dark Belgian ale brewed with 17 pounds of yams per barrel, along with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup.
Murky, rusty amber with a very thin head, Autumn Maple appears to be thin in body, yet the taste is full and robust. The nose abounds with maple sugar, along with Belgian yeast, fresh bread, and a hint of licorice. The yam character emerges in the first sip, and in spite of the maple this beer is not the least bit sweet.
Autumn is 10 percent ABV. A 750-milliliter (25.4-ounce) bottle costs about $11.
Pretty Things Baby Tree
Some people (including me) swear they detect the hint of plums in some Belgian quadrupels. With Baby Tree, the quad produced by Cambridge’s Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, you know it’s there: The beer is brewed with dried plums (which sounds better than saying it’s brewed with prunes).
Burgundy to brown with no head, Baby Tree has a funky aroma dominated by plums, spice, and a splash of vanilla. This is an unusual quad. It retains the character of the plums without the sweetness, and it lacks the domineering alcohol burn that quads often have. Baby Tree beer tastes dark, coarse, musty, and bitter - all in a good way. This is a tart, immensely enjoyable beer.
Baby Tree is 9 percent ABV. A 22-ounce bottles costs about $7.