The year was 1620. The place? Plymouth Rock. Puritans from Europe landed there on November 9, after leaving England on the Mayflower to seek religious freedom in the New World. Or so the story goes. The real reason the Pilgrims set sail from England? Because they were tired of drinking warm stouts, milds and porters, and were seeking new and exciting beers.
The result was our modern Thanksgiving holiday.
To honor the dream of those early beer drinkers, many small, innovative breweries today incorporate harvest-season herbs, vegetables and other foods into small-batch beers at this time of year. In fact, it's now possible to drink your entire Thanksgiving dinner! Here's how you can celebrate beer culture and tradition at the same time. (Oh, and apologies: I couldn't find a green bean beer, though I spent some time looking.)
Adam's #$@#$ Turkey Beer
3 Freaks Brewing, Highlands Ranch
Turkey and stuffing are the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals, and they are the centerpiece of this wildly unusual brown ale from 3 Freaks. "We have a tradition brewing at 3 Freaks. Our turkey beer, inspired by our friend Adam," the brewery says. "As with previous batches, no turkeys were intentionally harmed." We'll let you try it for yourself; 3 Freaks tapped the beer on November 2. Gobble, gobble.
Thanksgiving Imperial Stout
Station 26 Brewing, Denver
Speaking of stuffing, Station 26 brings back its own annual Black Friday tradition by tapping some dark and barrel-aged stouts. One of the variations this year is, yes, Thanksgiving Imperial Stout. Although it won't be tapped until November 29, the day after Thanksgiving, it will certainly hark back to leftovers with additions of fresh and dried cranberry, rosemary and thyme.
Side Dish Sour IPA
Boulder Beer Company, Boulder
Cranberries are actually used in beer more than you'd think, and a variety of Colorado breweries make cranberry beers this time of year. Boulder Beer took things up a notch, though, by actually naming its specialty brew Side Dish. Tapped on Friday, November 8, Side Dish "is a mildly sour Hazy IPA made with cranberries and oranges," the brewery says. "Mandarina hops complement the fresh citrusy orange flavor, while Mosaic hops provide a mild hoppy backbone, and Maris Otter Pale Malt rounds out the brew."
Bitter Berry Wheat
Ursula Brewery, Aurora
Ursula Brewery loves to get into the season, whether that season is Halloween, July 4 or the start of college football. On November 27, the brewery will tap Bitter Berry Wheat, made with cranberry and cherry.
Cranberry Princess Yum Yum!
Denver Beer Co., Denver and Arvada
As a little warmup for turkey day, Denver Beer Co. taps Cranberry Princess Yum Yum! at both of its taprooms; the brewery will also have 100 Crowlers of the beer for sale at each location. "This special holiday edition of Princess Yum Yum features our traditional German kolsch fermented with both raspberries and cranberries," the brewery says. "The result is a berry match made on Grandma’s dinner table that will quench your thirst and have you reaching for that second helping of turkey."
That's My Yam
Little Machine Beer, Denver
A crowd favorite, That's My Yam is a seasonal sweet-potato stout brewed with "a bunch of real, organic sweet potato in the mash," the brewery says. Tapped last month, it has "gentle, secret fall spice additions joining a deep, dark malt to tease the palate in anticipation of colder weather and winter holidays."
Sweet Potato Porter
300 Suns Brewing, Longmont
"Smooth, with an earthy, caramelly, roasted sweet-potato backbone," this porter from Longmont's 300 Suns Brewing is definitely an autumn pleaser. It was brewed with 160 pounds of bright-orange sweet potatoes in the mash, and it went on tap a couple of weeks ago (so get there soon).
Punk Up the Yams
Bull & Bush Brewery, Glendale
Brewed with pumpkins, maple sugar and Belgian ale yeast, then re-fermented on yams in French oak Syrah barrels, this annual gift from the Bull & Bush is typically released on draft and in bottles right around Thanksgiving. Here's hoping that's true this year, because you'll want to take it home in Tupperware.
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Cranberry Tepache — Malted Blue Corn
Dos Luces Brewing, Denver
Dos Luces Brewing specializes in pre-Columbian beverages like chicha, which is based on corn. For Thanksgiving, the brewery will create Cranberry Tepache using malted blue corn, fresh cranberries, cranberry juice and cinnamon. "I don’t expect it to be too sweet, but the cinnamon and cranberry flavors should come together nicely to create a nice warming flavor that should be reminiscent of mulled wine," says Dos Luces Brewing owner Judd Belstock.
Carrot Cream Ale
Lone Tree Brewing, Lone Tree
Carrot beers are...surprisingly good. Both Denver Beer Co. and Ratio Beerworks made delicious ones recently. I have high hopes for Lone Tree Brewing's Carrot Cream Ale, which the brewery teased on its Facebook page last week. No date has been set for the release, but the beer includes seventy pounds of juiced carrots.
Pump Action Imperial Pumpkin Ale
4 Noses Brewing, Broomfield
There are almost as many pumpkin beers in Colorado as there are breweries (Linus would be proud), and although many have already been depleted by pumpkin-hungry drinkers, there are still a variety left in taprooms and on store shelves. A few local standouts include Odyssey Beerworks' Fluffy Pumpkin, Denver Beer Co.'s Hey Pumpkin, Eddyline Brewing's Pumpkin Patch Ale, New Belgium's Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin, and Pump Action Imperial Ale from 4 Noses Brewing. The latter is a GABF gold-medal winner and a 7.7 percent ABV pie in a glass brewed with nutmeg, allspice, clove, cinnamon and pure pumpkin pie purée.