The experts say to brine your turkey in your favorite wine or beer for 24 hours before you deep-fry it. I assume that my fellow Aleheads, some of whom haven’t had a bottle of wine in the house in six months, will go with beer.
So we asked the Aleheads what beer they’ll be using to brine their deep-fried turkey. We got some predictably inscrutable responses.
BROTHER BARLEY MCHOPS
I’m an old-school New Englander (despite my current Dixie dwelling), so I prefer roasted turkey to fried. But if I was trading in my oven for a giant pot of peanut oil, I’d clearly brine and baste my bird in Lagunitas Brown Shugga. Why? Because it tastes so good.
Now I recognize that Lagunitas isn’t making the Brown Shugga this year (they even brewed a beer called Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale to mock themselves for not being able to get the Shugga produced in 2011). Fortunately, I’ve still got two bottles left in the ol’ beer fridge from LAST Thanksgiving (how’s that for forethought). One for brinin’. One for drinkin’. Happy Turkey Day, Aleheads.
DR. RIPPED VAN DRINKALE
Perfect timing on this conundrum as I’ll be setting my bird in the old salty bath tomorrow evening. We do two birds at the Doctor’s Office, one for the fryer and one for the oven. As much as I love me some deep fried Turkey, I also crave the old fashioned, salmonella filled stuffing that I’ll be picking out of the oven all day.
Most of my brine will be salt, sugar(s), and water, but I’ll certainly be adding a a couple of bottles o’ suds. To be honest, I’m grabbing whatever I have in the fridge that managed to make it through the fall. Probably a combination of pumpkin ales, witbiers, and maybe a brown ale for good measure. All I know is I need a lot of it. I’d hate to “Waste” a good beer on a marinade when I could be drinking said good beer so all the tasties will be where they belong, in my belly. Since this is a conundrum though, I may as well throw out what I think would be the ideal beer to brine your turkey. With that, I’ll go with Unibroue Ephemere. Witbier brewed with apple must. Kinda sweet, kinda sour, kinda spicy, this beer should complement the brine well since you’re looking for those exact kind of flavors even without the beer. You could just use hard cider and I think you’d have some great results, but save your cider for the table and go with the Ephemere instead. Come on, nothing says Thanksgiving like an effeminate beer from Canada. A votre sante!
CZAR VLADIBEER S. BOOTIN’
Is stupid question. I brine in amniotic fluid from northern yak, as my mother used to do. Yak is fed exclusively hops and is to be impregnated artificially with mix of semen and old Rasputin. Is expensive to procure but I have yak farm for this purpose.
* Ed. note: this nonsensical response led to an outstanding colloquy on the Aleheads shit-talking channel.
BARLEY McHOPS: Eagle tears? What is this, the 80’s? Eagles are practically a public nuisance these days. California Condor tears, please. You’re becoming a fauxligarch, Czar.
COMMANDER: That’s a little harsh. It was kind of holiday-appropriate: but for someone telling Ben Franklin how bad his ideas were, turkeys would be the national bird, and perhaps eagles would be deep fried and eaten in front of the TV. Actually, I bet eagle wings are delicious with habanero teriyaki sauce.
CZAR: Condors are carrion eaters. Eagles eat other birds I think.
BARLEY: Eagles eat the shit out of carrion too (assuming you mean American Bald Eagles). Besides, what’s wrong with carrion-eaters? Are you telling me you wouldn’t eat a Tyrannosaurus Rex-steak if the opportunity arose?
CZAR: Now you’re a fucking vet? Get your dick out of my turkey!
BARLEY: But you told me to stuff it?!
pH LAGER: Man, come on. I had a rough night and I hate the fucking Eagles, man.
PIELS [to CZAR]: I think this might be the one situation where you are weirder to the people who haven’t met you than the people who have.
I had to miss it due to familial obligations, but my minions tell me the runaway hit from last weekend’s Pittsburgh Brewfest was a Peppercorn Rye Ale by nano-turning-pro outfit Milkman Brewing, which took home the top prize ahead of 30+ local and national breweries. The roasty qualities of the rye grain will complement your T-bird nicely, and the subtle peppercorn spice will make you day-after turkey leftover sandwiches legendary. Plus, brining your bird in a beer no one has ever heard of will keep the other beer geek guests at your table firmly in check, and allow you to give a self-righteous snort when they remark they’re not familiar with Milkman. Remember: brine nano, and be the Alpha Alehead at your Thanksgiving feast.
Look for our podcast interview with Milkman Brewing, coming next week…
I’m basting the ham with Wild Turkey, which I suppose means I have to brine my turkey in Hamms for balance.
But mostly, I’m going to spend Thanksgiving seeing how much gravy I can fit on my plate.
I’ve had bad experience cooking with IPAs. Nobody wants their turkey to be bitter; that’s what your unemployed uncle is for. (Actually, he’ll probably be drunk, leaving it to the woman married to the unemployed drunk guy to be bitter.) And I’ve found that, though you need a hell of a lot of beer to get the taste to come through in a recipe, you don’t need much in the way of hops to make your dish irreparably bitter.
The beer I choose also can’t be ultra pricey. Sir Magnus Skullsplitter, who loved Thanksgiving so much that he pretty much celebrated it for the entire month of November, taught us that the cardinal rule of being an Alehead (or a foofy investment banker, for that matter) is DON’T WASTE BEER. Would he have condoned pouring a 12 oz. bottle of beer into 4 gallons of brining solution? Fuck no! So to the extent quantity and quality are inconsistent, I’ll err on the side of quantity. (Probably not the first time I’ve said this with respect to alcohol.)
Finally, I want to celebrate Thanksgiving the way the pilgrims did. Well, maybe not by massacring several hundred women and children as the anti-shoebuckle vigilantes would have us believe, and definitely not by using a beer brewed with corn, but by turning to local food sources. Here in Western Massachusetts, we have an exploding local brewery scene, with the more established Berkshire Brewing Company and a number of lesser known shops like Paper City, Northampton, The People’s Pint, Barrington Brewery, Opa Opa, Amherst Brewing, Pioneer Brewing, Element, Bentley, Gardner Ale House, and the list goes on.
Even with that kind of competition, I can’t ignore the DELICIOUS beers turned out by Wandering Star Brewery, an upstart that brews down the street from my office in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It has limited distribution in this area and New York City. This is a perfect opportunity to choose from their array of beers that, while terrific, are usually outside my wheelhouse–a bock, an XPA, an English mild, but not a ton of 10% hop orgies. I’m going to brine my turkey with their Zingari, which is a remarkably flavorful lemongrass witbier. It’s drinkable, having just enough spice, great flavor, no aftertaste, a really pleasant aroma and a wonderful light texture. I think it has the flavor profile to shine through the meat, oil and tryptophan. There will be no water in my brine; just witbier. It will be well worth the 3-4 growlers full that it will take to fill the cooler. I’ll report back.
Happy Thanksgiving, Aleheads!