Let’s get super American and talk about beer and football for a second– the true ULTIMATE pairing and the perfect activity for Thanksgiving. Let’s face it, aside from eating and staring at family members while falling into a food coma, football and sipping beer is the best pastime during the holiday. To learn how to take your beer experience to the next level on turkey day, we ‘tapped’ into KelSo Brewery’s co-founder Kelly Taylor’s brain and are happy to share our newfound knowledge with you!
To give you a brief 101 on Kelly Taylor– he’s been in the beer game making, ‘Simply Good’ Beer for over 10 years and is the president of NYC Brewers NYC Brewers Guild and NYC Beer Week, which recently announced that they will be moving their brewery to the South Bronx in 2017. While KelSo Brewery is in-between homes, Kelly Taylor has been orchestrating and hosting unique beer trolley tours throughout different NYC boroughs to raise money for his Beer Helps charity for which 100% of the proceeds go to City Harvest. How fun is that?!
Read our bubbly conversation about Taylor’s background, favorite fall beers and what you should enjoy on Thanksgiving below.
How did you get into this industry?
I started home brewing in my college dorm room when I was 19 years old (1990). Was easier to make beer than to finding a place to buy it. Developed a taste for the craft, then got a job at a local brewery/pub. Worked my way up from there. Karl Strauss Breweries in San Diego. Great spot.
Let’s jump right into seasonal/holiday talk–Are there any fall beers that are great for cooking?
Pumpkin beers work. Low hops. Seasonal spices. Also porters/stouts for braising. Again, try to keep hops low as they intensify with cooking. Brooklyn brewery has a nice stout, as does gun Hill in the Bronx.
Can you brine with beer?
Yes. Again keep hops low. Still need to add salt. I usually use nut brown lager for this. Residual sugar is high enough to make a difference in the brine.
What beer(s) go best with a turkey?
Ah. Depends on how turkey is cooked. I smoke mine, and love it with a citrus forward IPA like ours or other half. If roasted, I prefer a nice spicy pilsner. Threes Brewing Vilet is awesome with turkey.
Can you pair Thanksgiving courses with beer, such as a pre-dinner beer, appetizer course (paired with?), main course (paired with?) and dessert course?
You can of course pair beer with anything. Depends what you’re serving. Assuming standards are served, then an example pre-dinner beer would be like an appertif , palate awakener perhaps a Berliner Weisse or Pale ale or saison. Not too filling or aggressive. Appetizers like cheeses and cured meat can go well with sessionable lagers like Brooklyn lager or our pilsner. Main course of turkey and stuffing best with a nut brown lager, malty and dry, but also an herbal pilsner or robust saison. Really depends on cooking method and spices. Desserts can be paired with fruity sours (lambic) or dark roasted stouts.
When you want to kick back after the full Thanksgiving meal, what’s your go-to?
Not gonna lie. Goslings dark rum on ice. Though a nice pale ale hits the spot as well.
Speaking of Thanksgiving— does a cranberry, apple or pecan pie or sweet potato beer flavor exist? Or can we make one!?
I’ve seen all of these to varying degrees in beer. It’s hard to strike a balance with those flavor, but can be done. With more and More small breweries around the country, there is more likelihood of coming across these experiments as time goes on.
Getting into the sessional beers- What’s the most outrageous fall beer you’ve tasted and where?
There’s a small brewery out in queens called Bridge & Tunnel Brewery. Rich does some great stuff. One wacky one was. 1642 Mespeaches Ale. With homey and spruce.
In general, what are your favorite go-to-beers for the fall?
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. Been a favorite for decades. Hoppy, malty, crisp, refreshing and warming all at once.
I feel that men are wary about drinking a pumpkin beer because they consider it sweet or feminine. Is there a pumpkin beer that they wouldn’t consider to be, ‘basic’ by men standards ?
I’ve seen plenty of men drink pumpkin beers and don’t think anyone can call them basic. They’re a balance of malt and spices, and sometimes the balance is “Simply Good” and sometimes it’s not. It’s never “basic”. That said, the Heartland Brewery pumpkin has that balance here in the city. Otherwise I think Dogfish makes a nice one.
What’s the best option for pumpkin beers– if you like sweet and if you prefer a dry/bitter flavor?
Sweet-dogfish, dry/bitter typically comes off like a cinnamon bomb. Some people like that. So southern tier does one that finishes that way.
For the amateur beer lover–(but enthusiast), how would you best describe the difference between ALE, Lager and IPA?
All beers are either ales or lagers. The yeast used and temperature that yeast ferments at makes that distinction. Lagers finish clean on your palate, ales have a bit longer finish. An IPA is a style of ale (India Pale Ale) that has more hops and malt and typically alcohol level thank standard ales. Pilsner is a style of lager that has a specific malt character and hop balance as well. Guinness is a stout which is an ale. For example.
Random question, but what are your thoughts on sour beer?
Not random. I think they can be done well, but frequently lack depth of character and flavor. It’s what we at KelSo call “Simply Good”. Layer. Complexity. Umami. When sours have that, they’re delightful.
Since you organize beer events with other breweries, how did you decide to create a beer alliance?
The NYC Brewers Guild was created in 2011 to take over NYC Beer Week, which was in private hands at the time. A few of us brewers got together and created a plan to take it out of private hands and put into a brewer run non profit.
Since you work with so many—which brewery is doing something truly unique in New York?
I’m really digging the beers of Transmitter Brewing. Nestled under the Pulaski Bridge in LIC, they are producing some beautiful beers in a tight tight space. Great guys too.