It’s getting down to the eleventh hour, but if you’re anything like us, you still haven’t hit the liquor store to get your booze game strong for tomorrow. At this point you’ve read countless recommendations—including some wine tips right here—but we love good beer too much to not share some of our favorite Turkey Day brews with you. Here are our five top picks, broken down by the point in the day when they are most effective.
EARLY IN THE DAY: Lambrucha
It’s a Thursday, and you’re on vacation. This means day drinking is seriously tempting, but you don’t want to get so sauced that you embarrass yourself at the table. The answer to all your problems is Lambrucha—a tart, refreshing blend of lambic beer and kombucha that—at only 3.5% ABV (alcohol by volume)—you can sip all day without fear of passing out in grandma’s attic.
WHILE WATCHING GAMES: Victory Prima Pils
If dad is slamming cans of Genessee in the basement, you might as well join him. But if the beer selection falls into your court, you can’t go wrong with Victory’s ever-dependable pilsners—crisp and sessionable, with enough citrusy twang from the hops to keep you interested as the game drags on.
AT THE TABLE: Le Baladin Nora
Baladin brewer Teo Musso is known for deploying oddball herbs and spices in his beers in place of hops, and the complex and unusual results are often great for pairing without food. The Nora draws its inspiration from ancient Egypt, using ginger, myrrh, orange peel, and a grain called kamut. It’s really bubbly and floral, with a nice dry finish that you’ll appreciate during a long meal.
WITH THE TURKEY: Anchorage Brewing Co. Lovebuzz Saison
I was first introduced to this beer by Justin Philips, the owner of Beer Table and Beer Table Pantry. I drank a bottle last year when the bird hit the table and it was phenomenal. The tartness and peppery bite helps cut through the heaviness of the feast, but it’s subtle enough to not drown out the food. The brew is flavored with rose hips and orange peel, then matured in pinot noir barrels, so you’ll have plenty to talk about if anyone quizzes you on your selection.
POST-GAME: The Bruery Autumn Maple
I am not staunchly anti-pumpkin beer, but I’d say their success rate is woefully low, and I don’t want to see a pumpkin brew on Thanksgiving. This riff on the category, from California’s the Bruery, is a different story. It swaps pumpkins for yams, then ramps up the fall flavor with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, and molasses. It’s boozy and rich, with an unmistakeable Belgian yeast character—a great bottle to unwind with as the tryptophan begins to set in.