On the fourth Thursday of every November, we commune with family, friends, and those close to us to celebrate the blessings – both large and small, tangible and intangible – in our lives. We do so by saying a quick grace, holding tightly to our neighbors hands, and being thankful for what we have.
Then we pile gravy, mashed potatoes, and stuffing over a heaping portion of turkey (dark meat for me, please). We go back for seconds or thirds, at first being democratic with our choices, then settling down with that one food item that needs to be tasted again and again.
Afterwards, as we await the Tryptophan to kick in, we find a spot on the couch. Luckily for us, besides the food, the other staple of Thanksgiving Day is football. The NFL on Turkey Day has been a regular thing since the league’s inception in 1920. Since 1970, the games have always included Detroit and Dallas; Since 2006, a third game has been a part of the slate of games as part of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football series. In a day of feasting, it’s only right the indulgences extend beyond just the food. Why not watch grown men heave themselves into one another for our gluttony?
In the spirit of all this, six cities are involved in this year’s NFL Thanksgiving Day football slate. Who has the best team? Eh, that doesn’t matter much.
Which team’s hometown has the best suds? That we can do. Let’s pig, er, find out.
[Please note I’ve attached a hypothetical gambling line next to the teams. This spread does not denote an actual football line, but the spread on which city I believe is the better beer city.]
Minnesota (-1) @ Detroit:
On a holiday, there’s nothing wrong with a 12:30 start to either football or boozing. I’ve covered this before. Fortunately, there are a ton of beer options in both Minneapolis and Detroit, since both cities have deep roots in the art of brewing. If Minnesota is going to get the benefit of an entire state, then this luxury should be afforded to both teams. Given that there’s only one professional team in each state, combined with my own editorial freedom, I’m only doing the readers a favorite by extending the field through which to choose.
In Minneapolis, just down the road from the U.S. Bank Stadium (and home to this year’s Super Bowl), there’s Town Hall and their famous Masala Mama, a world-class 6% IPA; Less than three miles away on the edge of the University of Minnesota campus sits Surly Brewing. While a ton of (rightful) attention goes the way of Abrasive and Furious, opt for a Coffee Bender, their year-round brown ale with coffee.
Michigan is a great beer state. From Jolly Pumpkin in Ann Arbor to Dark Horse in Marshall; Founders in Grand Rapids to Bell’s in Kalamazoo, there are a ton of options running the scale from light to dark; low ABV to barrel-aged ABV monsters.
That way you have options for Matthew Stafford’s inevitable late-game interception.
From a football and beer standpoint, this is the day’s best pairing.
Los Angeles Chargers (-10) @ Dallas:
On an actual field, barring a colossal upset, the Cowboys should trounce the Chargers; On the brewing side, the Bolts' move from San Diego to Los Angeles narrows the gap just a bit. Yes, imagine that spread!
In Dallas, the Community Beer Company is garnering all sorts of acclaim for their diversified beer lineup that includes a tasty IPA, Russian imperial stout (and its barrel-aged big brother), and a surprisingly highly-rated Witbier and ESB. Everything is bigger in Texas, it’s said, and there’s proof of that also at Deep Ellum right in Dallas whose offensive-line-sized beer lineup offers big barleywines, Baltic porters, and double IPA.
This hypothetical Thanksgiving beer matchup would be over before seconds were served.”
Just slightly under four miles from the Chargers home at the StubHub Center is Monkish Brewing. Do the math for us, Southern Californians, a four-mile drive is only what, a two-hour trip? Easy as a California-style burrito. The Monkish folks are brewing the most-sought after hazy, New England style IPA west of New York. The only worry? The line there might be longer than getting into the stadium.
Also not far from the stadium are satellite campuses for Mikkeller and Firestone Walker, and local favorite Smog City. If you widen the net at all, you can add Highland Park, Beachwood, El Segundo and other fine fare.
This hypothetical Thanksgiving beer matchup would be over before seconds were served.
New York Giants @ Washington (pick ‘em):
Sometimes the best beer of the day is the nightcap. The same is true for football. Even a great one can put you to sleep. This seems to be the exact intent of NFL schedule-makers who decide to put the NFC East in a prime-time game once a week. Now’s the time to bust out the big beers and end this holiday once and for all.
In an effort to be fair, we’ve credited New York breweries to the Giants even though they play in New Jersey. The aforementioned hazy IPA coming out of New York (Other Half, Grimm, SingleCut, the list goes on) have everyone from hipsters to Wall Street bros lining up for status-raising cases of double-dry hopped everything; Barrier and Sand City, both out on Long Island are crafting that island’s best beers – though there may be too many Jets fans out those ways. Brooklyn Brewery is legendary and Threes is an Odell Beckham-sized star-in-the-making.
Down in the Nation’s Capitol, there’s a bevy of both close-by and neighboring breweries that are basically only accessible by car (I’ll leave it to you to decide if you want that or the NY Transit System). Aslin Beer Company is putting out beers with awesome names like Master of Karate, Champion of the Sun, and Bringing Sexy Back; Port City in Alexandria has the diversity in that their best beer might be the Optimal Wit; For big boozy beers – which you may need to help erase the actual game from your memory – be on the lookout for Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and their series of big, boozy stouts and porters. Around the holidays, it’s also nice to have a bigger option like Hardywood’s Foolery, an imperial milk stout.
In gambling parlance, a pick ‘em means oddsmakers think a game could go either way. If you love boozy diversity, go the way of the Washington beer; If you’re solely an IPA drinker, no sleep til Brooklyn.
Thanks to Remo Remoquillo for the header illustration.