| Booze |

The 5 Best Local Beers to Bring to Thanksgiving Dinner

Just in time for Christmas, Buffalo Bayou Brewing hopes to release its first beer to the public: an 11 percent gingerbread Imperial stout that would be the toast of any Christmas dinner.

For Thanksgiving, however, there are plenty of locally brewed beers that would be equally welcomed at the table -- and nothing says, "I trumped your dumb marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole this year, Cousin Fran," like an entire growler of beer.

Of course, if your family isn't the beer-drinking type, you can also get a growler of 8th Wonder Brewery's specially brewed root beer at the brand new Local Foods in Rice Village, next door to benjy's. And hopefully, in a few short months, 8th Wonder will have joined Buffalo Brewing as Houston's two newest craft brewers.

Until then, however, check out these five excellent options for your Thanksgiving beer needs.

5. Saint Arnold Santo Black Kölsch

This is a good "gateway" beer for family members who are unfamiliar with or wary of the craft beer movement. It's close enough to a kölsch in body and feel as to comfort your uncle who is used to drinking adjunct lagers, but with a rich undertone of malt and an inky color that screams "fall" far more than a bright yellow kölsch would. If you're the type of family to have tamales at Thanksgiving dinner, Santo is the beer for it.

4. Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout

This strong, malty, rich American-style stout from the brewery in Conroe is absolutely a dessert beer, its toffee and chocolate notes pairing brilliantly with pumpkin and pecan pies alike. However, it's equally good for sipping by a fire -- if it's cold enough at Thanksgiving to build one or if you're lucky enough to have a fireplace in Houston -- or enjoying with a post-Thanksgiving dinner cigar on the patio. Available in cans at places like Spec's.

3. No Label Brewing Co. Black Wit-O

Like Santo, this is a wheat beer with a twist. It's tar-black but sweet and deceptively light-bodied, with a hint of anise at the end. While many people might drink this as a dessert beer thanks to its licorice finish, I'd prefer to see it paired with heavier meat dishes like braised short ribs or a beef stew. (And although it's probably not served in most homes for Thanksgiving, I want a Black Wit-O with my next bowl of pho.) You can get a growler of the stuff at Whole Foods Montrose.

2. Karbach Brewing Weisse Versa

With strong notes of banana, cloves and other warm winter spices, Karbach's wheat beer tastes strikingly similar to a freshly baked loaf of banana bread. It's much more pronounced than your typical Hefeweizen, and certainly doesn't require an obnoxious orange slice on the rim of the glass. It would pair wonderfully with a dish of roasted beets with goat cheese, any fish dishes and basically anything rich and creamy that needs to be cut with Weisse Versa's bright, sharp knife. If you can't find any at Whole Foods, you can likely get a growler of it at Petrol Station, where the beer bar generously refills any growler you bring in -- not just their own.

1. Saint Arnold Pumpkinator

Based off a wildly popular Divine Reserve pumpkin ale from 2009, Pumpkinator is very simply the best beer that Saint Arnold has brewed in years. To quote Lennie Ambrose, marketing director for Saint Arnold, it tastes like "eating a piece of chocolate pumpkin pie and then drinking coffee." Who needs pie at Thanksgiving when you have this beer?

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