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Recession Thanksgiving Tip: Drink Beer Instead of Wine

Airline travel is down, grocery stores are giving away free turkeys to get customers in the door, and everybody is looking for ways to economize this Thanksgiving. But before you decide to save money by buying a jug of Riunite instead of an expensive wine, consider serving your guests American craft beers with dinner this year. Most discerning food lovers are much happier drinking good beer than cheap wine anyway. And there are more great American beers to choose from the ever before.

 Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association, recommends Oktoberfest amber lagers with Thanksgiving dinner. The "gentle malt notes of this style harmonize well with gravy and toasted turkey skin," she says. Shiner's Bohemian Black Lager isn't a bad choice either.

"Personally I like Saint Arnold's Brown Ale or Christmas Ale with the main course at Thanksgiving," says Saint Arnold Brewery founder Brock Wagner. "I find that the malty notes do well with the turkey, stuffing and gravy. But if there is any cranberry sauce involved, then it's definitely the Christmas Ale." When eating turkey breast all by itself the day after Thanksgiving, Wagner recommends the crisp clean flavor of Saint Arnold's "Fancy Lawnmower," a German Kolsch Beer.

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Serving small glasses of lots of different beers is the best way to complement a extensive feast like Thanksgiving dinner, some brewers say. Dessert beer suggestions include Shiner Holiday Cheer, a seasonal brew with peach and pecan flavors, Sam Adams Chocolate Bock, and Stone Brewing Company Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. Everyone agrees that on an all-American holiday like Thanksgiving, the beers should be American, not imports.

You'll find more suggestions at Beertown, the website of the Brewer's Association, as well as an extensive list of seasonal beers and suggested food pairings at www.seasonalbeerandfood.org.

-- Robb Walsh

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