Hello, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Almost-End-of-2021. After 2020, this year has continued to be not all that much fun. Things are looking up and all our local breweries are firing on all eight cylinders as we head into Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays with many tasty, interesting offerings.

In the last column, I mentioned all the seasonal beers we will be enjoying over the holidays, and I hope everyone finds something they like: beer, wine, NA, water, tea, coffee — anything works to help wash down the greatest meal of the year.

As you read this, I hope it finds you well and able to be thankful for whatever you can be optimistic for.

A few things this Thanksgiving I’m thinking about:

Family is really the first thing that I’m about, also friends, books, pets, walks, the lake, snow (I know, not popular), fires, cooking, music, holiday lights and displays, grandparents, jokes (bad or good), and of course, great beer, my now nearly lifelong passion. I am very grateful for my colleagues at the brewery and the many friends that have been so helpful and giving during the last months.

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A memory that surfaced as I write this was Thanksgiving 1996, when my wife, Laura, and I lived in San Francisco. That time of year out there is shorts-and-T-shirt weather. We jumped on our bikes, rode over the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Marin Headlands and had a picnic of turkey sandwiches — still a memory that makes me smile.

That being said, coming back to Duluth with our unpredictable weather and the fun of playing family football in the backyard in the snow on Thanksgiving trumps that memory. I‘m also looking forward to the annual post-Thanksgiving procuring of the tree, the trimming, the cookies, the music and family movie watching. I know I sound like a sap, but it is a great time of the year and brewers have made a point of helping people celebrate the holidays for nearly 1,500 years — quite a legacy.

The earliest holiday beers were brewed by the Romans, and they called their brew "cerevisia," from the Celtic word for "beer." The beer was heavily spiced and served fairly warm and flat, according to my research.


Weihenstephan Abbey (Kloster Weihenstephan) is a Benedictine monastery in Weihenstephan, now part of the district of Freising, in Bavaria, Germany. Brauerei Weihenstephan, located at the monastery site since at least 1040, is said to be the world's oldest continuously operating brewery. This legendary brewery makes Winter Festbier a golden lager at 5.8% alcohol that would honestly pair well with any of the food choices I will highlight. Since this brewery is 980 years old, I will just encourage you to grab a bottle or two.

I went on the History Channel and found out some interesting Thanksgiving facts:

As the pilgrims were near the water, the feast consisted of a lot of seafood, mussels, oysters, lobster, clams, sea bass and other proteins that included turkey, deer, geese and ducks; the veggies and fruit are pretty consistent with today’s fare. I, for one, would enjoy some seafood with our meal, but that's probably not going to happen.

Here is my simple list of beers to pair with your meal, all available at our local shops:

  • Mussels — Light wheat ale like a crystal wiezen.
  • Lobster — Belgian wit ale.
  • Clams and oysters — Stout.
  • Bass — Pale Ale.
  • Deer (venison) — Dubble Ale or Doppelbock.
  • Geese and duck — Flanders ale or Rodenbach.
  • Turkey — Brown Ale, Amber Ale, ESB (Extra Special Bitter).
  • Salad — Sour beer or light ale.
  • Mashed potatoes — Light lager (American or German).
  • Cranberries — Cranberry Ale, obviously.
  • Stuffing — Porter.
  • Squash — Cider.
  • Green bean casserole — Belgian Saison or Triple Ale.
  • Pumpkin pie — Imperial Stout (with whipped cream),
  • Ice cream — Fruit beer (any flavor you like; apricot and strawberry are very good).

Happy holidays to you all and please email me with beer ideas and favorite pairings that you find.



Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge. Write to him at dave@hoopsbrewing.com.