Local Brews to Pair with your Thanksgiving Bird

Some may associate Thanksgiving dinner libations with a classic, Virginia wine. With the endless craft brewery options in Hampton Roads, why not put a tasty spin on your typical Thanksgiving beverage? Pick up one of these local brews in your city to compliment your traditional Thanksgiving dishes or to incorporate in your Thanksgiving recipes this year. They’re sure to add more fun and flavor into your Thanksgiving dinner lineup.


Alewerks Brewing Co. | Williamsburg
Tavern Brown Ale. Photo: Alewerks Brewing Co.


Tavern Brown Ale: Though darker, heavier beers tend to favor more robust proteins like beef, Tavern Brown Ale is balanced and approachable, so it doesn’t overwhelm a milder roasted turkey. The subtle roasted aroma compliments a hearty gravy.  It is good all the way through the meal too; desserts like Pecan or Sweet Potato Pie highlight the beer’s sweet caramel and toffee notes. Tavern Brown Ale is a staple at Alewerks.


Back Bay Brewing Co. | Virginia Beach
Witch of Pungo. Photo: Back Bay Brewing Co.

DRIKKO: This beer was originally crafted by the Vikings and hails from the Swedish isle of Gotland. Depending on what was readily available, DRIKKO (or Gotlandsdricka) was often brewed in a Rostbunn (wooden vessel layered with juniper branches and straw) with grains malted directly in the smoke of a fire. Sweetgale and hops are added to sweeten things up a bit, giving it a nice rich complex finish. Back Bay says this beer tastes just like Thanksgiving.

Witch of Pungo Pumpkin Ale: True to its name, Witch of Pungo is strong in body with a little burn. In addition to pumpkin, this brew incorporates sweet potatoes, which give it a richer flavor, while hints of cinnamon and nutmeg balance it out.


Bearded Bird Brewing | Norfolk 
Randy Rook Red Ale. Photo: Bearded Bird Brewing Co.


Sweet 16 Sweet Potato Ale: Brewed with aromas of cloves, ginger and sweet potato, this ale will fit right in with your Thanksgiving meal. It’s finished with just enough bitterness to keep the flavors from dulling.

Randy Rook Red Ale: This ale is brewed with a pound of hand-cut vanilla beans and a mild coconut finish. It has great body, but isn’t too heavy.  It will pair perfectly with sweeter meats or desserts.


Benchtop Brewing | Norfolk 

Grammy’s Famous (Releasing Nov. 18)Based on the owner’s mom’s mashed sweet potato recipe, in which she served mashed sweet potatoes, mixed with some orange juice, in an orange peel and topped them off with toasted miniature marshmallows.  They took their base Gose (tart german wheat beer with coriander and sea salt) and added homemade toasted marshmallows (from Esoteric Restaurant in Virginia Beach) to the kettle. Then they added 300 pounds of North Carolina sweet potatoes into the fermenter, along with fresh orange zest. Who needs sweet potato casserole at their Thanksgiving if you have this brew?


Big Ugly Brewery | Chesapeake

Ghost Rider Porter: A robust vanilla porter, bursting with rich flavors of dark chocolate, vanilla and hints of coffee that can stand up to a heavy meal like Thanksgiving dinner.

Ape Hanger : This Russian Imperial Stout has a heavier roasted coffee flavor that pairs well with the traditional Thanksgiving foods like turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes.


Bold Mariner Brewing Company | Norfolk

Bold Jack Pumpkin Ale: This medium-bodied, orange colored ale is sure to fit right in to your Thanksgiving spread. It’s brewed with pumpkin added to the mash, then finished with autumn aromas of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice.


Coelacanth Brewing Company | Norfolk 

COELIA: A lighter beer that will go great with Thanksgiving dinner. It has gentle hints of lemon, and a sensible amount of Rosemary – resulting in a balanced, easy drinking, all-season beer. It will pair perfectly with a seasoned turkey, particularly if it includes rosemary.

Quad. Photo: Coelacanth Brewing Company

QUAD: This Belgian Style Quadrupel is sweet and malty, with a spicy Belgian yeast character and subtle notes of banana and clove. Gravy-laden plates with bread stuffing and roasted garlic mash are ideal pairings for this style – an earthy, complex and malt-forward beer. It can also pair well with desserts that feature caramel or molasses such as pecan pie, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie.

Caramel Apple Pie Porter: A great choice for dessert. This Fall beer was created in collaboration with Parkway Brewing, using apples from Bold Rock Hard Cider. This dark, malty, English Porter has caramelized sugar and apples that make it the perfect accompaniment to America’s favorite pie.


Commonwealth Brewing Co. | Virginia Beach

Halcyon: This is a passionfruit and apricot, white wine barrel-aged blond sour ale. It has all the tropical juiciness of passionfruit and a tart finish, adding the perfect contrast to traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

Pastiche Saison: A bottle conditioned, billowy classic. This classic saison is made with four grains: barley, oats, wheat and spelt. These flavors will help cut through the rich flavors of a Thanksgiving meal.


The Farmhouse Brewery | Virginia Beach
Don’t Miss A Beet. Photo: Farmhouse Brewery

Don’t Miss A Beet: This beet saison features locally grown beets and raw grain from local farmers. Sounds like a great way to incorporate an essential vegetable into your Thanksgiving dinner!

O-We-Gose: Skip the canned cranberry sauce for this bottled treat. It’s a fermented cranberry gose with cranberry juice added. It also incorporates raw grain from local farmers.


Green Flash Brewing Co. | Virginia Beach
CaCow. Photo courtesy: Green Flash Brewing Co.

CaCow: This Milk Stout is perfect for Thanksgiving. It’s sweet taste will add a nice contrast to the hearty, savory dishes of Thanksgiving.






Legend Brewing Company | Portsmouth

Golden IPA: This full-bodied beer, with its traditional English-style hopping, has the perfect balance between malty sweetness and hop bitterness. It has a crisp, clean finish which settles out the heaviness of any classic comfort food. Plus it packs a 7.5 percent ABV (Alcohol by Volume) which will either help you with your post-meal nap or justify getting another plate.

Legend’s Brown Ale. Photo courtesy: Legend Brewing Company

Lebchuken Ale: A holiday special inspired by German spice cakes made especially for the season. Like its namesake, it tastes of Molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon and other holiday spices to make a special treat.

Legend’s Brown Ale
: The malt flavors of caramel and molasses in this beer creates a nice compliment to gravy, oven dishes and cranberry sauces. It can also be a great appetizer beer, as it pairs well with cheeses and has a 6 percent ABV, making it comfortable to drink while anticipating the main course.



O’Connor Brewing Co. | Norfolk
Pecan Porter. Photo: O’Connor Brewing Co.

Pecan Porter: Their Winter Pecan Porter is a traditional English-style Porter infused with toasted pecans. It is full-bodied with a semi-sweet flavor. The pecans were sourced and roasted by the Old Dominion Peanut Company. Who has the time to bake pecan pie anyway?

Squibnocket Apple Cinnamon Saison: Think about enjoying a nice mug of warm cider while sitting by the fire. Now imagine that cider is cold and actually beer. Cinnamon, and spice and all things nice, that’s what this saison is made of!



Reaver Beach Brewing Co. | Virginia Beach

Jolly Roger Pumpkin Porter: This classic porter is brewed with fresh, sugar pumpkins and spiced with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. While it would fit perfect with dessert, it will also stand up to any hearty Thanksgiving meal.


Smartmouth Brewing Co. | Norfolk
Photo: Smartmouth Brewing Co.

Holiday Helper: This ale boasts a crisp, sweet, spicy aroma. Its chocolate and caramel malts stand up to the spicy Centennial and rye flavors, making this beer clean and smooth. It’s a tasty brew that’s would be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.





Tradition Brewing Co. | Newport News
Weekend Warrior. Photo: Tradition Brewing Co.

Weekend Warrior Amber Ale: The Peninsula Animal Shelter and Tradition Brewing Company dedicated thisbeer to the special people who participate in the Weekend Warrior program. It features a clean malt flavor and a crispness that goes perfectly with the fall weather. The light balance of malt and bitterness pairs well with Thanksgiving dishes, particularly late night turkey sandwiches.

Altstadt Altbier: With our roots in City Center in Newport News, VA, we proudly dedicate this traditional German brew to the citizens of our great city. In German, altstadt means “old town” – the historical city center. Highlighted with a vibrant, dark amber color that is clean and crisp up front, then revealing a gently bittered and slight malt finish, this seasonal favorite is becoming the talk of the town. The Altstadt will take you back to a time when people connected outside of a phone and laptop, like the original Thanksgiving. It pairs perfectly with fried oysters and pumpkin or sweet potato pie.


Not feeling the craft brew vibe? Check out this guide for Virginia wines that will compliment your Thanksgiving meal as well.