By Dan Brosgol
You know what I hate? Octoberfest beers in August, when it’s 90 degrees and humid. I want to drink fall beers in the fall, when it’s cold outside. I want pumpkin beers on Halloween, not Labor Day. But I guess if you can sell cars for the next model year in August, a five-week head start on pumpkin ales is OK. Sometimes, the timing just doesn’t make sense.
Case in point, Thanksgivukkah 2013. Thanksgiving sits at the crossroads of fall and winter, with bare trees and (usually) snow-less ground. It’s a holiday of windblown leaves, hearty foods and a generally cheerless landscape. Hanukkah, on the other hand, is supposed to fall on one of the coldest, darkest, winter nights of the year, with freezing temperatures, a cold, starlit sky, and maybe even some snow on the ground. Not so this year… the seven-week countdown to Thanksgivukkah is on, as for the only time in the next 80,000 years we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving on the first day of Hanukkah.
The Internet is rife with Thanksgiving beer recommendations. You can find some particularly good ones here and here. But Hanukkah beers, not so much. Beyond Shmaltz Brewing Company’s collection of Jewishly inspired brews, it’s slim pickings.
So in the interest of bringing the best of both worlds together, here’s my New England-inspired six-beer sampler for Thanksgivukkah that should match up with the best of both holidays’ tasty treats:
- With the turkey, Smuttynose Brewing Company (Portsmouth, N.H.) makes a solid Old Brown Dog Ale that won’t get in the way of the turkey and stuffing herbs and spices.
- With the sweet potato latkes, Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, Maine) and its Allagash Four brew bring additional sweetness with the fruity raisin and plum notes that will make the sweet potatoes that much sweeter.
- With the cranberry sufganiyot, it’s time to go Belgian-style tripel. Grab yourself a Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project (Somerville, Mass.) Baby Tree. It will complement the fruity tartness of the cranberry jelly quite nicely.
- With the Hanukkah gelt, double-dip on the chocolate with an intensely flavorful Harpoon Brewery (Boston) Chocolate Stout. It’s dark, spicy and deliciously decadent, and will send you into a sugary, booze-y, chocolate-y state of bliss.
- With the pumpkin pie, this is the easiest call of the day: Cisco Brewers (Nantucket, Mass.) makes some of the best beer around, and its Pumple Drumkin ale is an outstanding and not overwhelmingly pumpkin brew.
Don’t go crazy with this sampler; a few of them pack quite a punch. But enjoy the beer and the rare combination of four amazing traditions: Thanksgiving, football, Hanukkah and beer.
When he’s not chasing around his four kids, Dan Brosgol is the director of Prozdor and a native Bostonian passionate about sports, eating, Israel, Judaism and running. Dan has been blogging on JewishBoston.com since 2010.