The Best Post-Thanksgiving Pairings: Leftovers and Libations
By Mary Small Originally published November 2019, updated October 2020
Buckle up pilgrims, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching! We understand that this particular day can bring out many emotions. One minute you are so hungry you’re desperately plotting a stealth-mode sneak attack on Granny’s mashed potatoes, then before you know it, you’re slipping on your favorite sweatpants and leaving the drawstring untied because you’re so plucking full you can’t bear to lift your arms to knot them. But that isn’t the end of it. You just realized that you have not tried Aunt Ruth’s famous pumpkin pie. How will you make the room for it? They say leftovers are for quitters, but we say it’s high time we prolong the delicious day. Stuff the turkey, not your face this Thanksgiving and break out the Tupperware. We have made a list of the best libations to pair with your turkey-day leftovers.
For when your leftovers make it until lunch
Want to know what the best part about Black Friday is? No, it is not the endless shopping deals or snagging that last trending toy on the shelf as Karen really lets you have it. It is that Thanksgiving leftovers lunch you dreamt about. The flavors of the feast have marinated overnight, so it’s round two for you! And since it’s officially the weekend, why not pair a beer with your meal? Here is what we suggest:
If you haven't discovered the wonders of the post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, it's time. Build your handheld fully from leftovers or make it the traditional way - turkey, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo. Either one is satisfying when washed down by this lightly hopped American-style dark lager. Shiner Bock is deep amber in color with distinctively rich and full-bodied flavors. Its malty characteristics pair nicely with your leftover masterpiece. If you are feeling less traditional and don’t mind a little work, turkey chili makes for a delicious, and very seasonal second choice. Grab a sixer of Left Hand Milk Stout and simmer a bottle in your chili. Be sure to save the other five to pair with each bowl you dish out.
We all enjoy our leftovers differently. Some eat the side dishes cold and straight out of the Tupperware, while others layer them in a casserole dish to get all of the goodness in one bite. One thing is for certain, they all taste better paired with a cold beer. St. Bernardus Abt 12 is our pick to pair with the always sought-after sweet potato casserole. This nutty, medium-bodied and traditional Abbey Ale echoes the flavors of this delish Thanksgiving side dish. If your grub of choice is the timeless green bean casserole, Saison DuPont is a complementary companion. This refermented Belgian brew is as classic as the casserole itself. The lemon and coriander aromas with the strong bitter taste makes it quite the thirst quencher. But if gravy is the icing on top of your mashed potato mountain, you will want to wash it down with Dogfish Head 60 Minute. This East Coast IPA balances out the richness of the savory gravy and buttery potatoes with its citrusy hop character, leaving you filled up and thankful.
If you are the kind of person who digs into their leftover dessert for breakfast, make sure to save at least one slice for later. There are some satisfyingly sweet duos' that take the pie for pairings. If you stick to tradition and go for the classic pumpkin pie, New Belgium Fat Tire is a reliable match. This amber ale is an easy drinker, which helps cut through the decadent dessert. If you enjoy life on the sweeter side, pecan pie and Founders Breakfast Stout may be the most pleasurable pair for you. This double chocolate coffee oatmeal stout is brewed with two types of coffee, giving it a fresh-roasted java flavor made for cramming pie. We cannot forget the classic apple pie with homemade crust. Sierra Nevada’s Wild Little Thing is a “slightly” sour ale that suits the tart flavors of this standard sweet treat.
For when your leftovers make it to Friday night dinner
Well, it certainly doesn’t get any butter than this. Two Thanksgiving dinners in a row! If you’re packing in a second portion for an evening meal, we suggest you go lighter in the refreshments. Beer is most suitable for a lighter lunch, but dinner tends to be more dense. To wake up your tummy, you should start with an aperitif, like Campari, which is delicious in a Negroni. To sip while you savor your meal, it is best to stick with classic cocktails like vodka & soda or a crisp gin & tonic. If the turkey’s tryptophan is kicking in and you’re too tired to play mixologist, then grab a no-fuss canned cocktail or hard seltzer. High Noon Sun Sips or a Joia Spirit Sparkling Key Lime Vodka Soda are two choices you can crack open. However, when dinner is done and you need to digest, a digestif should be your go-to nightcap, like Cognac. It will aid in easing a full stomach.
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