Ho ho ho and be merry with Jack’s booze guide

Jack Harlow - Craft & Dough
Jack Harlow - Craft & Dough

As the big day looms you’ll remember how a glass of your favourite alcoholic beverage is as important to the occasion as a perfectly roasted turkey. You may find yourself asking the familiar question – exactly which wine can you select to impress your guests?

However, with this being the year of the beer, we believe you should be contemplating the less-familiar but increasingly popular question – exactly which beers can you select to impress your dining guests? We’ve got your back to ensure your beers truly shine on this festive occasion.

The Starter

We’ll assume there may be some seafood gracing the first plate. Typical festive dishes such as a prawn cocktail will find a grade A partner in either German or Belgian style wheat beers. Coriander, cloves and spice can surprisingly compliment seafood and a well-made Marie Rose sauce.

Another common holiday entrée can involve smoked salmon, horseradish and beetroot.

This typical combination gains a tasty alliance with a German pilsner as the fresh, citric bitterness from noble hops balance the sweet tastes of the beetroot with spicy, herbal flavours which also complement the horseradish.

For the daring, throw a smokey Rauchbier into the mix to take full advantage of the smoked salmon.

Some like to think outside the box.

For those feeling more on the contemporary side, match your cold meat dishes, such as a terrine or pate, with a deep ruby or an amber saison. Such styles will utilise carbonation to lift food off the palate – a method that forces wine to take a back seat.

The Main

Turkey. The meat that rarely sees the menu until this time of year. Such a limited opportunity should surely be met by an equally as unique beer. With this white meat and its festive compadres, you’ll be looking to keep flavours interesting by contrasting tastes as well as combining them.

The Belgian-style Dubbel takes up a seat at the table and immediately makes a statement. It’s the life and soul of the party and gets along with every taste the traditional Christmas turkey dinner has to offer.

The sweet nature of the beer brings the pigs out of their blankets, whilst the herbal flavours bring the stuffing to the yard. It’s a match made in heaven.

Those who take a greener option to dining should take heed to the following suggestions. Complement your nut-based courses with brown ales to focus on an earthy, herbal texture. For other strong-tasting vegetarian dishes, mushrooms and tomatoes combine well with maltier yet not overpowering brews such as a Vienna lager.

The Dessert

Some would say the traditional route of dessert, during Christmas, splits opinions like the half-empty glass. The Christmas pudding provides a very herbal palate containing dark fruits and spice. A variety of stouts will always complement said flavours and also provide coffee notes to contrast, and burnt notes to balance out strong profiles.

Any other typical festive dessert will, more than likely, be a touch sweeter. Desserts displaying coffee notes, ie tiramisu, appreciate the rich maltiness of a scotch ale or the flavour combinations of a coffee porter. Caramel desserts work well alongside smooth but rich brews such as a milk stout.

Any bread-based sweet dishes could be complemented by an ESB as they display rich, bready malts and fruity tones.