Beer for the Bird

by Stephen Beaumont

With the holidays now well upon us, the thoughts of many will be turning to the Christmas feast on the 25th and the hopefully moist and tasty turkey that will serve as main attraction.

When I was a boy living at home, that bird was usually accompanied by mashed potatoes and mashed turnips – a consequence of being raised in a largely Scottish-influenced kitchen – with lots of sausage-and-bread stuffing and a large boat of gravy. And in my later teen years, a choice of cheap and cheerful Italian red or white wine.

As I grew to adulthood, the wine improved – red Côtes du Rhône at first, then Riesling or Gewurztraminer – but to me neither was ever a truly great match. Something about too many flavours on the plate for a single wine to manage.

Then I discovered Champagne and other, less expensive dry and sparkling wines, which were and are the ideal foil for those occasions when dinner is composed of many and diverse tastes. And then I discovered something even better.

If you are a beer drinker – and I’m guessing you are, dear reader – then do yourself a favour this Christmas day and beg, scrounge, overpay or barter for a proper, traditional gueuze lambic, something from Cantillon or Drie Fonteinen or De Cam or any of the handful of other makers and blenders of Real Deal lambics. (It should go without saying, but avoid at all costs the sweetened stuff – look for the words “oud” or “oude” on the label, unless it’s Cantillon, which makes only traditional lambics.) The combination of this beer and your turkey dinner will be sublime, astonishing and absolutely delicious.

How good shall it be? So good that I have had people who don’t even particularly like beer, much less tart beers like lambics, asking for second and third glasses.

If you can’t get your hands on a proper gueuze, there is always dry-finishing tripel, which will substitute nicely, or pale and proper Oktoberfest beers, if you have any left over from a couple of months ago. But if you can, try the gueuze. You won’t regret it.


Short Sips with Stephen Beaumont

A corner dedicated to bringing you insight from industry author and beer connoisseur, Stephen Beaumont.

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