The Best Drinks To Pair With Holiday Foods
The holidays are upon us. This is a time of over-indulgence and no limits on our caloric intake. There’s no such thing as a “diet” during the holidays. From gingerbread, cakes and pies to turkey, ham and green bean casserole, during the holidays we all eat way more than is usually socially acceptable.
There’s a reason why so many people make a New Year’s resolution to get in better shape and eat better. That’s because they just spent the end of November and all of December stuffing their faces with pastries and cured meats and cheeses. There’s nothing like the excuse of a holiday party to make us feel okay with eating fifteen chocolate chip cookies in one sitting.
We know that we all over-eat during the holidays, but what should we wash it down with? The usual milk won’t do. We’ve already had enough milk this year to guarantee that our bones are unbreakable. Eggnog is not something I would ever want to wash any food down with. Eggnog is a meal on its own and definitely isn’t a refreshing accompaniment to holiday gluttony. Soda is way too sugary to and cider is too sweet.
To really get the most out of your holiday binge-eating, you need to pair your holiday favorites with booze. Not just any booze will do, though. There are many holiday flavors that work well with certain spirits, beer styles and even cocktails.
People love pumpkin flavored treats. The pumpkin craze begins in mid-September and doesn’t stop until late winter. From pumpkin lattes to pumpkin candles, few flavors are more entrenched in the holidays than pumpkin. The king of pumpkin treats is the pumpkin pie. There are few holiday desserts as popular as this pumpkin-based treat. Commonly, pumpkin pie has been accompanied by a tall glass of milk. But, there are alternatives.
If you are one of those people who can’t get enough pumpkins, you can pair your piece of pie with a pumpkin ale like Southern Tier’s Pumking, Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale or Uinta Brewing Company’s Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin. If you’re like me and you are already sick of pumpkin-flavored products, pour yourself a delicious barley wine. If you don’t know, barley wine isn’t actually wine at all. It’s actually beer and some of the best to pair with pumpkin pie include: New Glarus Thumbprint Series Barley Wine, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Great Divide Old Ruffian and Lagunitas Olde GnarlyWine.
If you’ve ever received a fruit cake as a gift and you actually ventured to try it, you’ll know that referring to it as a cake seems fairly inaccurate. It’s pretty much like a dense block of sweet dough chocked full of candied fruits, nuts and spices. Overall, not very palatable, the best fruitcake is doused in liquor so you can at least get a buzz while you are choking down something that seems like it could easily be used as a replacement for bricks on a construction site. If, for some reason, your fruitcake isn’t infused with a generous splash of booze, your best course of action is to pair it with spiced rums like Cruzan 9, The Kraken Black Spiced Rum or Sailor Jerry.
Honey Glazed Ham and Green Bean Casserole
Glazed ham has been a holiday dinner staple for as long as there were holiday dinners. Turkey usually gets more respect, but ham is always there waiting in the wings. No ham-centric dinner is complete without green bean casserole. You could easily pair these holiday favorites with white wine or hard cider. But, to get everything out of the flavors, you need to pair this meal with a wheat beer. The more yeasty the better because the flavors work perfectly with the sweet ham flavor and the acidic finish is perfectly paired with the savory flavors in green bean casserole. Great wheat beers include: Harpoon UFO White, St. Bernardus Wit, Brewery Ommegang Witte, The Brewery Hottenroth or Ayinger Ur-Weisse.
Oven Roasted Turkey with Stuffing
No holiday meal is complete without an oven roasted turkey with all the trimmings. Since having a turkey as the centerpiece of a meal usually means that it is accompanied by stuffing, mashed potatoes and any number of sides including cranberries and squash. Finding a drink that pairs well with everything in this feast is no easy task. With so many flavors to compete with, you need a beverage that has the proper flavors to work well with everything. The best choice is a saison, also known as a farmhouse ale. Don’t worry if you’ve never had this style of beer, there are many brands making this rich, spiced Belgian beer. The yeast and malts in the saison pair perfectly with the starches without overpowering the roasted turkey. Some wonderful saisons include: Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale, Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace, Allagash Brewing Saison, Ommegang Hennepin and Firestone Walker Opal.
Cured Meats and Sharp Cheeses
No holiday gathering begins without Hors d’oeuvres. These usually consist of chips and salsa, vegetables and dip or cheese, cured meat and crackers. If the last option is served, you’ll need a drink that is able to cut through all of the rich, smoky flavors. Your best choice is a bitter cocktail. Not only is a delicious cocktail a great way to start the evening, but they are they create the perfect balance of bitter, sweet with the rich, sharpness of the cheese and meats. Cocktails like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan work perfectly to enhance the flavors.
Beers that have a great mix of hops and malts stand up well to the flavors of gingerbread. Hop-flavor works well with the spices in the gingerbread and malts help to bring the molasses and brown sugar flavors forwards. But, better than IPA –heavy beers, Stouts are perfectly suited for pairing with ginger bread. The rich, malted flavor of the stout works well with the ginger, sweet, toasted flavors of gingerbread. Some great stouts include: Bourbon County Stout, Rogue Shakespeare Stout. Founders Breakfast Stout and Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout.