But not every beer complements turkey stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Cole suggests avoiding hop-heavy beers that have a bite. Those might go well with spicy foods, but they will overpower the mild-tasting turkey and gravy and will definitely clash with the sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce.
Medium-to-dark beers with a roasted malt and caramel flavors will complement everything from the turkey and stuffing to the sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce, Cole said.
Beer has another decided advantage over wine at Thanksgiving, said Steve Kuftinec, with Uinta Brewing, Salt Lake City. The carbon dioxide in beer has a "palate-scrubbing" quality that gets your mouth ready for the next bite of food.
"Wine tends to be heavy on the palate, whereas beer's effervescent bubble lifts your palate and leaves you wanting more," he said.
Besides serving beer at Thanksgiving, Cole and his family take it a step further, soaking the bird overnight in a brine made with Epic's 825 State Street Stout to add moisture and flavor. .
During the roasting process, Cole and his wife, Susan, also glaze the turkey with a concentrated mixture of beer wort (the liquid extracted from the mashing process), malt vinegar, fresh herbs and spices.
Utah chef Viet Pham, of Salt Lake City's Forage restaurant, made the beer-brined turkey recently for a pre-Thanksgiving get-together.
He said the concentrated glaze offers a sweet finishing taste to the bird, but also offers the turkey a brown, caramel color that wows dinner guests.
Cole said Epic Brewing will sell the wort to cooks who call ahead. A good substitute is barley malt extract which is basically concentrated wort. Malt extract can be purchased from a local brewing supply store such as The Beer Nut, in Salt Lake City.
About 2 quarts water
2 to 3 cups coarse kosher salt
4 to 6 (22-ounce) bottles, or more, of Stout beer (Epic brand recommended)
1 (14- to 16-pound) turkey
Freshly ground black pepper
2 peeled onions, quartered
2 celery ribs, cut into chunks
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 unpeeled head of garlic
1 orange, quartered
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (or more) water
3 cups pale ale wort, simmered on the stove until it has condensed to about 2⁄3 cup (Substitution and purchasing information below)*
1/4 cup malt vinegar
6 fresh sage sprigs
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Place a clean bag inside a new 5-gallon plastic bucket. Pour water into the bag and add salt; stir to dissolve. Place turkey in bag. Slowly mix in beer and malt extract, if using. Press out any air. If your bird is not covered all the way, add a little more water or beer (or place a heavy non-metallic bowl on it to keep it covered by the brine). Seal the bag. Place the lid on the bucket. Chill for 16 to 24 hours in a refrigerator or (if the outside temperatures are cold enough) store it in a cooler outside for the night.
The next day, remove turkey from brine. Using paper towels, pat dry, inside and out. Sprinkle main cavity with pepper; fill with onions, celery, sage, thyme, and garlic and orange quarters. Close turkey. Tuck wing tips under; brush all over with oil.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Set oven rack at lowest position. Place turkey on rack in a roasting pan; add 2 cups water.
Place turkey in the oven and roast turkey 2 hours. Brush with glaze (see recipe below). Add water if pan is dry. Roast 30 minutes. Brush with glaze. Tent with foil if browning too quickly.
Roast another 30 to 45 minutes or until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165 degrees. Remove from oven and brush with more glaze. Transfer to platter; let rest 30 minutes (temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).
Carve and serve.
For the glaze, combine the condensed wort (or the malt extract) with vinegar, herbs, and pepper in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer until glaze coats a spoon, 4 to 5 minutes. Mix in butter.
Note • Wort is the liquid extracted from the mashing process during beer brewing. It's available at Epic brewing to those who call ahead. Cooks also can substitute 2⁄3 cup barley malt extract for the wort, which can be purchased from a local brewing supply store, such as The Beer Nut, 1200 S. State St., Salt Lake City (801-531-8182 or beernut.com).
Servings • 12 to 14
Source: David Cole, co-owner Epic Brewing Co.
Utah beer for Thanksgiving
Experts from Epic Brewing, Uinta Brewing and the Utah Brewers Cooperative (Wasatch and Squatters) offer 14 beer suggestions.
Before the meal
Light and crisp beers with some extra bubbles will get the mouth ready for the big meal.
Provo Girl Pilsner (Squatters) • Award-winning Pilsner with a light, golden hue.
Sour Apple Sage Saison (Epic) • Clean farmhouse ale made with apple and fall spices.
Tilted Smile Imperial Pilsner (Uinta) • A bright and crisp palate cleanser like Champagne.
At the table
Medium to dark beers with roasted malt and caramel flavors match everything on the plate.
825 State Street Stout (Epic) • A warm oatmeal stout with roasted toffee and marshmallow; use it to brine your turkey.
Big Cottonwood (Squatters) • A robust, amber ale with floral citrus aromas.
Bobsled Brown Ale (Wasatch )• A silver medalist at the 2008 World Beer Cup.
Brainless on Cherries (Epic) • This ruby-colored Belgian Ale contains cherry puree and is aged in French Chardonnay casks.
Bristle Cone Brown Ale (Uinta) • An English nut brown ale, with caramel notes.
Hell's Keep (Squatters) • Strong golden ale that will accentuate the herbs in the stuffing.
Darker beers with pumpkin, chocolate and coffee flavors compliment sweet treats.
Fermentation without Represenation (Epic) • A roasty porter with subtle pumpkin flavor, made with fall spices and whole Madagascar vanilla beans.
Labryth Imperial Black (Uinta) • Dark, coffee-like beer aged in rye barrels for six months, especially good with chocolate desserts.
Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Uinta) • Aged in bourbon oak barrels for six months.
Outer Darkness Russian Imperial Stout (Squatters) • A rich and roasty beer that's silky smooth just like pie.
Polygamy Porter (Wasatch) • Dark, medium-bodied ale with chocolate and malty flavors.