High on Hops: Pie Beer Season


Thanksgiving is the time of year when we gather around communal tables to celebrate our gifts of abundance.

Depending on your specific situation, that abundance may not always be represented by familial goodwill. However, it is much more likely that life’s many gifts are embodied by an exorbitant quantity of foodstuffs.

Main courses of roasted turkey plated with cranberry sauce and cornbread stuffing are de rigueur along with the afterthoughts of limp vegetables slowly simmered in butter. Regardless of how much sugar Aunt Silvia puts into her signature marshmallow-coated casserole, the main star of the Thanksgiving meal is the dessert course.

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For those of us who would prefer to drink our calories this holiday season, there’s no need to leave the comfort of the warm, spiced goodness of freshly baked pies to everyone else. Try one of these pie-themed beers to get into the spirit and satisfy your beer craving and sweet tooth all at once.

PumkingSouthern Tier Brewing Co.
Imperial Pumpkin Ale
8.6% ABV

Southern Tier cuts right to the chase in its description of Pumking, stating that this beer is “Particularly tasty when paired with traditional Thanksgiving dinner, a compliment to pumpkin pie, desserts.”

Truth be told, the first time I had this beer on draft, I thought I was drinking an actual pureed, whipped and thinned slice of pumpkin pie. It’s heavy on the orange gourd, but along with that, the brewers have cultivated a stellar recipe that brings out all of the other expected accents, from the sweet, chewy crust and earthy nutmeg to a sensory trick that conjures whipped cream dolloped on top.

Coffee Pecan Pie PorterClown Shoes
American-style Porter
8% ABV

This limited fall 2015 seasonal release is a modification of Clown Shoes’ Genghis Pecan ale highlighted by the addition of cold-brewed coffee. Brown sugar folded in with cinnamon is decadent enough but the toasty malts, dry nuttiness and quality coffee infusion create a truly special tasting experience. Coffee Pecan Pie Porter is complex without being complicated and a welcome addition to any holiday table.

Key Lime PieShort’s Brewing Co.
Fruit Beer
5.5% ABV

If you’re the type who prefers a Caribbean getaway for Thanksgiving instead of sitting at the kids’ table at Grandma’s house, Michigan brewery Short’s has you covered with its Key Lime Pie beer. Short’s uses real-deal ingredients in this recipe, from the key limes to graham crackers and even has actual marshmallows tossed into the brew. It’s intermittently sweet and tart, refreshing while warm with baker’s spices. That dichotomy makes Key Lime Pie a nice diversion from heavier holiday beers.

The pie-in-a-bottle construct has really taken off in the last few years, and in addition to these fine ales there are dozens of similar beverages – from Funky Buddha’s robust Sweet Potato Casserole beer to Moonlight Meadery’s delicate digestif Kurt’s Apple Pie sweet mead. Since there’s always room for pie, be sure to pick up an extra bottle or two to share with the family this Thanksgiving.