Two weeks ago, we featured our favorite local beers to take home for the Thanksgiving holidays.
This week, we turn to Central Market's beer badass Justin Vann for his thoughts on the five best craft beers for the holidays. You might know Vann from Central Market's aisles, or you might know him as the mad genius behind the beverage blog Weapons Grade.
The beers Vann selected for us will do double-duty for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners, and function equally well for enjoying on your own as much as they make great as party gifts for a host. Cheers.
5. Liefman's Goudenband
Vann says: "Look just hear me out, maybe a Belgian sour brown ale wasn't the first thing you thought of when you started looking for holiday beer, but I can't recommend this highly enough. Holiday food always does well with a splash of acid (cranberry sauce), so why not add alcohol to that equation and call it a day? This would be especially good with any duck situations. For those unburdened with an irrational hatred of fruit beer, try the Cuvee Brut- Leifman's dry cherry beer."
4. Eastcider's "Gold Top" Cider
Says Vann: "Cider has a natural affinity for pork, and so does Houston in the throes of the holidays. I think we should be drinking more cider, and this holds especially true now. However this is a special cider, made in the UK (until its Texas cidery is built) from both English heirloom and Texas apples. Made in a dry English style, Gold Top is more complex than the ubiquitous macro-ciders we see everywhere. Cider will go well with a lot of other holiday dishes, but honey-glazed ham and cider is an earth-shattering pairing you must try at least once. Also don't forget: Cider is naturally gluten free. Throw the Redbridge in the trash and upgrade to the king of gluten-free booze."
3. Rochefort 8
Says Vann: "Oh man, Rochefort is available in Texas again! Now that we need no longer get this beer on the black market, its time to stop hoarding it and start drinking it with food. This is your option when you feel like drinking a rich, opulent beer with a dish of similar weight. Rochefort comes in three strengths: 6, 8 and 10. Since I have to choose only one, I think the 8 is the most versatile. It's rich enough to handle sweets, but it won't overwhelm savory dishes either (as long as they're heavy). Think about it, Belgian strong ale and pumpkin pie. Maybe try it with good fruitcake, if there is such a thing."
2. Boulevard Tank 7
Says Vann: "Is there anything saison can't do? (No.) This would be the best go-to for the adventurous holiday dinner table. The wild funk and spiciness will stand up to even the gamiest proteins (like the turduckengoosebear you've been playing god with), and the hops will wash away the capsaicin in spicy dishes nicely. This is what you should go with if your Thanksgiving involves restaurant-hopping in Chinatown. I bet it would go really well with oyster stuffing. Someone please bring me oyster stuffing so that I may confirm this theory."
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1. Samuel Smith's Pale Ale
Says Vann: "This English Pale Ale lets its nutty, caramelized malt flavors do most of the talking, but at the end you pick up the peppery herbal English hop notes. It has just enough malt and hops to go with everything on the table and is mild enough to not weird out your more conservative, non-beer nerd family members."