The best beers to pair with your Thanksgiving dinner

Skip the American lager and go for something with more flavor.
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Can't decide what beer to serve with your Thanksgiving dinner? Don't worry, we've got you.

With so many Minnesota craft breweries, plus all the beers you can find at the local liquor store, deciding what to serve can be a bit overwhelming. So we spoke with certified Cicerone Sean Lipinski, of Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, to find the best styles for Thursday's feast.

The general strategy

It's best to pick a beer that's going to pair well with everything on your plate, Lipinski says. Generally you want to find a beer that's hearty enough so it's not overpowered by the food you're eating. So look for beers that have more bitterness, higher alcohol content or are sweeter, and balance them with the whole meal.

That nixes a lot of American lagers – the flavor just won't hold up.

Instead, consider these styles to pair with your feast: weizenbock, Belgian-style saisons or Scotch ales, according to Lipinski. He especially likes Weihenstephaner's Korbinian – it's a doppelbock that is "phenomenal" and "pairs with everything."

If you're looking to serve a beer with each course, here's a breakdown of pairings with some popular Thanksgiving foods.

Turkey: There are a few styles that pair well with turkey, including Scotch ales, Belgian dubbels and biere de garde. Lipinski suggests trying Town Hall Brewery's Cuvee of Consequence (a Belgian-style strong saison), Surly's CynicAle or Schell's Bock.

Cranberry sauce: Look for beers with low alcohol content or tart beers that could fall under the sour category – they're very drinkable with cranberry sauce. Lipinski recommends Town Hall's Minner, an American pale ale, saying it pairs well with the bitter/acidic and sweet flavors in cranberries. Fair State Brewing Cooperative also has several beers that would go with the tartness of cranberry sauce, Lipinski says.

Green bean casserole: Find a beer that has quite a bite of carbonation and bitterness – bitterness helps cut down the salt in food, and carbonation helps lift the fat. A pale ale or an IPA would go well with this dish, like Town Hall Brewery's West Bank Pale Ale or Surly Furious, Lipinski suggests.

Pumpkin pie: Find a beer that has carbonation to help cut the richness, and one that has similar spices to complement the pie. Town Hall Brwery's Grand Cru, a Belgian strong ale, is a good example, Lipinski says. Not a pumpkin pie fan? Home Brew Supply Company has a list of beers to pair with other popular pies.

After dinner when you're full but still want a beer: Stay away from beers with higher carbonation – so that nixes a lot of Belgian-style beers. If you're drinking coffee, something barrel-aged or a Russian or American imperial stout would pair well, Lipinski says.

More ideas

Looking for more ideas of what to pair with beer? On this Reddit thread, people shared the best Minnesota beers to drink on Thanksgiving.

Last year, The Growler listed some of the best local brews to drink with your meal. The Denver Post put together a list of the best beers to drink for pre-game, at dinner, and for dessert.

Or check out the video below for tips on beer-food pairings.

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