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Bird and bottles: Hudson Valley beers that pair well with Thanksgiving, holiday meals

Courtney Iseman
For The Journal News

When we talk about food and drink pairings, especially for special occasions like the holidays, wine stubbornly holds on to the spotlight even as the craft beer scene continues to grow and evolve.

While wine will always have its place, but this year is the perfect time to shake things up for your holiday entertaining.

Craft beer has made its way into the fine dining world, being offered at elevated restaurants and paired carefully with different dishes. Cicerones, or beer sommeliers, study to be able to help guide beer drinkers through food pairings.

Industrial Arts Winter Landscape

So it’s official: Craft beer is up to the task of complementing your most special meals.

What’s more, breweries around the Hudson Valley are continuing to raise the bar on quality and push the envelope on innovation. We’ve rounded up some exciting brews that will be available through November and/or December to pair with festive meals.

The Palatine Pils from Suarez Family Brewery

In the heyday of hazy IPAs and pastry stouts, Hudson’s Suarez Family Brewery has made its mark brewing beer that is pure and simple, like unfiltered lagers and mixed fermentation ales.

One of their flagship beers is the Palatine Pils, an unfiltered German-style pilsner. It has the signature characteristics of a classic pilsner: a grainy, bready malt character plus a presence of hops — the Palatine’s hops run a little fruitier than floral German originals. These flavors are emphasized because the beer is unfiltered. Unlike commercial pilsners, Palatine’s protein and yeast haven't been filtered out to leave a crystal clear, less flavorful brew. 

Pilsners are versatile and pair well with many foods, but remembering a basic rule of matching intensities helps hone in on what to drink this style with. Since a pilsner is not an intense beer in terms of flavor or strength, it works best with foods that aren’t significantly rich, spicy or heavy. The Palatine Pils is a lovely match for your salad course, and goes well with chicken and salmon. 

Where to find it: Palatine Pils is available in cans and on tap for growler fills at the Suarez Family Brewery taproom, 2278 Route 9 in Hudson; 518-537-6464. You can also check websites like Beer Menus to find it at other local stores and bars.

Kings Court Fame And Fortune

The Fame & Fortune Malt Lager from King’s Court Brewing Company

Fame & Fortune malt lager is King’s Court Brewing Company’s version of an Oktoberfest, says co-owner Caroline Bergelin. “It's a lager, so very smooth and easy to drink, but it is big in body with pronounced malt character.” Oktoberfest beers, also known as Marzens, are malty amber lagers that balance a clean character and dry finish with bready, toasty malt aroma and flavor. 

Because this kind of beer is light and easy to drink, Bergelin suggests it for starting out your celebrations — the Brewer’s Association recommends pairing an Oktoberfest with a jalapeno jack cheese, should you want to serve Fame & Fortune with your hors d’oeuvres. An Oktoberfest can stand up to and balance spicy foods, and like a pilsner, its light, easy-going breadiness makes it a good match for grains like rice and risotto.

Where to find it: Fame & Fortune is available at King’s Court Brewing Company, 40 Cannon St. No. 1 in Poughkeepsie; 917-697-3030.

The Litmus Test Volume IV: Cranberry Spritz Sour Ale from Newburgh Brewing Company

The latest edition of Newburgh Brewing’s Litmus Test series of sour ales is perfect for Thanksgiving.

This sour has “lots and lots of cranberries,” says the brewery’s president and chief operating officer, Paul Halayko. In fact, according to Newburgh Brewing’s Instagram, over 160 gallons of fresh cranberry juice went into the brew, adding that bright bitterness to the sour’s tart funk and effervescence. 

“Pairings are about complementary and contrasting flavors,” explains certified cicerone and owner of Woodstock’s R&R Taproom Megan Reynolds. “For a contrast, the Cranberry Spritz would be great with a cheese board or charcuterie to cut through the fullness of either, or even some rich comfort food like a cassoulet. I think it would also be great with a game dish as we come into hunting season.”

Where to find it: The Litmus Test Volume IV: Cranberry Spritz is available at Newburgh Brewing Company, 80 S. Colden St. in Newburgh; 845-569-2337, as well as select retailers in the Hudson Valley.

The Winter Landscape Black Lager from Industrial Arts Brewing Company

Industrial Arts is releasing the sixth iteration of its Landscape Series in late November, just in time for the holidays. The Winter Landscape is a black lager — clean yet roasty, similar to a Schwarzbier if you’re familiar with traditional German styles. Industrial Arts used pils, Munich and chocolate malt from Hudson Valley Malt in Germantown. General manager Sofia Barbaresco says the malts aren’t mashed as they typically are for brewing, but are instead added later for color, warmth and soft roastiness. The beer is aged in oak for notes of vanilla and coconut.

Because a black lager is crisp and clean yet roasty with subtle hints of flavors like chocolate, or in this case, vanilla and coconut, it can cut through fatty foods and hold its own with spicy foods. This makes it perfect for heavy holiday meals, and a particularly good choice for roasted meats, duck, pork, sausages, and anything with a little heat.

Where to find it: Winter Landscape is available in cans at Industrial Arts Brewing Company, 55 W. Railroad Ave. in Garnerville; 845-942-8776; and 511 Fishkill Ave. in Beacon. Keep an eye out on BeerMenus to find it in local stores.

Sloop Brewery's No Santa

The (No) Santa New England IPA from Sloop Brewing Co.

How's this for an introduction: "Finally, a holiday beer brewed without candy canes, cinnamon or a single gingerbread house! Notes of cotton candy and green grape skin come from where they should — hops, barley, yeast, and water — not naughty spices.”

The (No) Santa NEIPA is Sloop Brewing’s stand against over-the-top holiday brews; instead of any gimmicks, the brewery celebrates the season by sticking to what they do best. With an element of haze characteristic of the IPA substyle, (No) Santa is nuanced and complex with goldenberry, stone fruit, sage and green grape notes and the herbal bitterness of hops. 

While IPAs are generally a go-to for spicy food and big, bold flavors, fine-tunes their guidelines for pairing an East Coast IPA, like the (No) Santa, in particular. Play up the beer’s complex bouquet of flavors and aromas by cooking with fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, chives and dill, and finish dishes with lemon. “All of these culinary techniques contribute to balancing the palate where this IPA style hits the hardest, which calms the palate,” Adam Dulye writes. “Instead of tasting bitter you taste the notes from the hops, the balance of the malt and the gentle scrubbing of the palate.”

Sloop Brewery's  No Santa

Where to find it: (No) Santa is available at Sloop @ The Factory, 755 East Drive, Suite 106, in Hopewell Junction, and Sloop @ The Barn, 1065 County Route 19 in Elizaville; 518-751-9134, as well as select local retailers. 

Brooklyn Cider House Half Sour

The Kinda Dry and Half Sour Ciders from Brooklyn Cider House

Ciders are the perfect option for anyone not crazy about beer or just looking for something light and refreshing. While named for a New York City borough — and with a location in Bushwick — Brooklyn Cider House’s ciders are produced at their Twin Star Orchards in New Paltz, which has a taproom and restaurant on-site.

Co-founder and cider maker Peter Yi recommends the Kinda Dry and Half Sour ciders for holiday dining, explaining they pair well “particularly with turkey and stuffing. The acidity and touch of sweetness in both ciders hold up beautifully to the rich and flavorful foods that are traditional for the holidays.”

Kinda Dry is an “off-dry” cider with tart apple flavor, plenty of bubbles and just a little sweetness. Also “off-dry,” Half Sour has notes of wild flowers, honey, citrus and pickled pear, with a little carbonation and a little sourness. Ciders are flexible because they won’t overpower a lighter dish, yet variations like Kinda Dry and Half Sour have enough flavor to complement heartier dishes, as well. An instant win is to think about flavor: for an apple cider, what food would you make with apples? Pork chops, root vegetables and roasted vegetables are a no-fail choice.

Where to find it: Kinda Dry and Half Sour are available at Brooklyn Cider House at Twin Star Orchards, 155 N. Ohioville Road in New Paltz; 845-633-8657, until the orchard closes for the year in early November. The ciders are also then available online at

Brooklyn Cider House Kinda Dry

The Pecan Pie Double IPA and The Figgy Pudding Barleywine from Decadent Ales

Mamaroneck’s Decadent Ales has the entire holiday season covered with their festive brews. For Thanksgiving, the Pecan Pie Double IPA is brewed with crushed pecans, maple syrup, and caramelized sugar. The Pecan Pie is sweeter than the traditional IPA, with lots of nutty, spiced, sweet, molasses-leaning notes, so it’s best to pair it with courses like dessert or cheese. A double IPA meets its match in sharp blue cheeses, and while drinking Pecan Pie with pecan pie would be a bit much, this beer would complement carrot cake, pies and tarts with spices like ginger, and caramelly desserts like crème brulée.

Figgy Pudding will arrive closer to Christmas. It’s a barleywine clocking in at 12% ABV, so also a perfect close to the meal. Decadent brewed it with molasses and brown sugar, added figs, and stored it in Port wine barrels. With a bit of a warming sensation from the alcohol plus dark fruit and toffee notes, barleywines are associated with winter and can be a bit dessert-ish. Like the Pecan Pie, Figgy Pudding will be best with cheeses — strong ones like Stilton — and rich sweets. Think all things ooey gooey, chocolatey and caramelly, plus cheesecake and anything with toffee.

Where to find it: Pecan Pie and Figgy Pudding will be available at Decadent Ales, 139 Hoyt Ave., Suite A, Mamaroneck; 914-848-4060.

The Wicked Witch Stout from Glenmere Brewing Company

Don’t be fooled by the name: the Wicked Witch stout was released on Halloween, but it’s available through December and has a flavor profile perfect for holiday dining. This is Glenmere’s fourth year producing this popular, limited-edition beer. It’s brewed with deciduous black raspberries, and has a velvety mouthfeel with a flavor and aroma mix of the berries with chocolate and coffee. Because of these flavors and because this beer clocks in at 9% ABV, Reynolds recommends drinking it with post-meal sweets. 

“I would pair a high ABV stout like [Wicked Witch] with something matching its flavors, so that's going to be desserts, like chocolate mousse or chocolate cake, or maybe a dessert that is chocolate with a bit of berry coulis to cut all that richness with some tartness.”

Where to find it: Wicked Witch is available on draft (for growler fills to go) at Glenmere Brewing Company, 55 Maple Ave. in Florida; 845-651-1939.