What's Brewing? Toast your Thanksgiving with these 6 Western Pa. beers
Thanksgiving is an American holiday dedicated to coming together, celebrating abundance, gratefulness and, of course, sharing.
We often pair Thanksgiving with wine as opposed to beer. Until recently, there hasn’t been much thought to the fact that craft beer is more local than the wines most people will be drinking on Thanksgiving Day. Why is that? Since Thanksgiving was originally about celebrating local harvests, it seems like beer would be a natural fit since brewers still use locally grown ingredients, no?
In order to understand this, we must first recognize that our country has worked tirelessly at dumbing down beer since Prohibition ended. For years, huge brewing companies have cheapened the ingredients to a point in which many domestic beers are practically tasteless. In addition, producers must sell them with a swimsuit model to convince both males and females alike that it’s worth drinking. Not the finest thing to pair with a holiday meal, I’m guessing. I’d take wine over that too!
As time passes, we’ll look back one day and laugh at the ridiculousness of the whole thing. The trend of craft beer equaling quality continues to emerge in different parts of our country. As craft brewers purposely use local products, we’re seeing a shift in the way people perceive craft beer. It’s as homegrown as any turkey, vegetables or grains that come from your local farm. Change is the only constant thing in life and many times it’s slow moving.
I often wonder how much thinking is really going on in one’s mind when I hear that someone is trading the time they could be spending with family on Thanksgiving for holiday shopping instead.
How much thought are we really putting into what matters anymore? What exactly do we value? How important are local ingredients vs. GMOs and chemical flavorings found in cheaper beer? How important is the time we spend having conversations with family members, loved ones and friends? Thanksgiving only became Thanksgiving because people valued time spent together year after year with their food and drink because life was hard. Life is still hard yet we have a tendency as a country to run away from the most important things that originally brought us together for the momentary gratification of gaining a material item.
Beer was the main source of water stocked on all ships including the Mayflower, which arrived on our shores in 1621. Some of the ingredients harvested during that time were used to make that beer. Beer was most certainly on the table for the first Thanksgivings and that continues in many homes to this day. Our local breweries are a reminder of what still matters. Offerings are brought together from different walks of life while nurturing relationships that will blossom for a lifetime.
May you find it in your heart to continue the tradition of giving while spending time with loved ones so our future can enjoy the Thanksgiving that our forefathers have handed down to us.
Here are a few brews that lend themselves nicely to this occasion. Share, trade and be grateful. Cheers!
All Saints Brewing Co. (Greensburg)
Crimson Halo (5.3% ABV) — This amber ale was crafted to balance the hop profile with a toasty, sweet malt character, in both flavor and aroma. It has a nice medium body and a gentle, well-balanced finish.
Grist House Brewing Co. (Millvale)
Double Vice Coffee Porter (6.3% ABV) — Brewed with Indian Mysore Coffee from Allegheny Coffee and Tea Exchange, this delicious porter opens with a full aroma of coffee and dark chocolate, then washes over you with hints of coconut and vanilla.
Yellow Bridge Brewing Co. (Delmont)
Higher Learning Cream Ale (4.6% ABV) — Light, crisp, refreshing. This cream ale is a throwback to simpler times and simpler beers.
East End Brewing Co. (Pittsburgh)
Fat Gary Nut Brown Ale (3.7% ABV) — Once part of their Session Ale series, and now a year-round beer, this deep brown ale is surprisingly light in body and low in alcohol. Dark malt character, light sweetness and modest alcohol content make it a beer that you can spend the day with and not hurt yourself.
Couch Brewery (Pittsburgh)
Recliner Oatmeal Stout (5.1% ABV) — Medium-bodied oatmeal stout with roasty, chocolate and coffee undertones. Hopped with Amarillo.
Insurrection Ale Works (Heidelberg)
Tropical Merph (5% ABV) — Wild Ale brewed with Wheat 2-Row, fermented with Lactobacillus Brettanomyces and conditioned on copious amounts of mango and pink guava.
Mark Brewer is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. He’s the author and illustrator of Brewology, An Illustrated Dictionary for Beer Lovers.