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These High-Alcohol Beers Will Help You Survive Thanksgiving

With parents, siblings, in-laws, and kids all in one place, it can get overwhelming. So when you’re tired and stressed and want a break, I have just the beers for you.


It’s Thanksgiving, which means families come together from far-flung places to share a common meal and give thanks for what we have. I love Thanksgiving—it’s a holiday about food. I love my family—they’re fun to be around and I don’t always get to see them.

All that family time can be taxing, though. Lots of people crammed into a kitchen, managing the kids’ table while trying to enjoy their own dinner, having to entertain a small army…it’s a lot of work. But don’t worry, I’m here to help.

In our family we are always the hosts for Thanksgiving. I make the turkey, my wife makes the desserts, my mother makes her amazing mashed potatoes (a post for a later time), and we enjoy copious amounts of alcohol. With parents, siblings, in-laws, and kids all in one place, it can get overwhelming. So when you’re tired and stressed and want a break, I have just the beers for you.

First, let’s be clear: there’s beer for watching football, beer for dinner with friends, beer to enjoy on date night, and then there’s beer to survive some of life’s challenging moments, like hosting Thanksgiving challenging, not dealing with a tragedy challenging. To survive those moments, turn to high-alcohol-content beer, my friends.

Beer can be light on the alcohol content, in the 3 to 5 percent range, or it can be a serious 8, 9, 10-plus percent beer. That’s what I went shopping for: the serious beers. Sometimes you get really high ABVs from IPAs, but you also see Belgium beers, and more traditional ales with high alcohol contents.

To start with, I like to turn to Save the World Brewing Company. I highlighted this brewery in my piece about brewers that give back. It’s in a small town outside of Austin and brews great beers, each with an interesting Latin name. To survive Thanksgiving, I suggest their Sol Hominis Golden Ale. This is a beer full of carbonation, rich flavors, and a significant 10 percent alcohol content. It is a “four C” ale, meaning it is clean, clear, complex, and crisp.

When our family gets together on Thanksgiving, the first thing we serve is a good charcuterie and cheese plate. Hot soppressata, prosciutto, salami, goat cheese, cheddar, manchego, grapes, olives, honey, nuts—all tasty snacks to keep people busy while you finish the big-ticket items. Sol Hominis is the perfect beer to pair with this spread. A substantial golden ale with a solid flavor, this goes well with creamy cheese and tasty meat, and with its hearty 10 percent alcohol content, it’s a great way to start Thanksgiving.


Next I suggest you move to something like a Belgian-Style Quadrupel. The Flyin’ Monks from Adelbert’s Brewery here in Austin is a perfect example of a hearty, survive the family kind of beer. This multi-award-winning Quadrupel has a knock your socks off 10.9 percent ABV. Yeah, it’s serious. The folks at Adelbert’s describe this as an ale with complex oak and rum flavors “with a warm alcoholic finish.” It’s conditioned on oak cubes from Spirit of Texas Distillery to age their Pecan Street Rum. That’s right: it’s one of those awesome beers that has some substantial boozy roots to its flavoring.

This dark beer is perfect to crack open when you are past the turkey stage and have moved on to dessert. My wife makes a fantastic chocolate pecan pie. Flyin’ Monks is the beer you want to pair with a hearty chocolatey, pecan, or pumpkin-based dessert. It’s oh so good, and a great way to finish out your meal.

Finally, after the kids have gone to bed, the dishes are done, and the leftovers are put away, step outside, take a breather and have a bottle of NightTime from Lagunitas Brewing Company. This is a dark, rich, malty ale, with a solid hop background. As Lagunitas says, this beer that is not for “the faint of heart,” and they’re right. With a respectable 8 percent ABV, if you incorporate a cigar, this “dark black IPA,” and a cool evening, you have the perfect end to a crazy, busy day.

Have a happy, tasty, thirsty Thanksgiving. Cheers!