How to Choose the Correct Craft Beer for Holiday Dinner with your SO's Parents

Holiday dinners are dangerous territory for even the most solid of relationships. What was already a minefield just became even more ill fated when your SO just informed you that her parents would like you to bring over something to drink with dinner. Or maybe you figured that you should grab something, because it is always a good idea to bring a drink as a gesture of gratitude for the meal. Traditionally people would bring wine, but everyone knows about your interest in beer at this point. So not only would it be weird if you brought wine, but if you are like me you don't even know the first thing about bringing the right bottle. So here is Average Guy's Guide to Beer to help you with How to Choose the Correct Craft Beer for Holiday Dinner with your SO's Parents.

Mix Packs

You were probably thinking to yourself that craft beer comes in such a wide variety that you'll never be able to please everyone's palate with a couple of sixers. Immediately the mind wanders to the Mix Pack which is probably featuring three seasonal or limited release beers as well as the brewery's flagship brew. "Perfect", you think, "a little something for everyone." Wrong. This will send the subconscious signal that you lack commitment. "How can you possibly pledge the rest of your life to our child if you can't even spend the whole night with one beer?" While grabbing two different six packs might be fine, make sure you only dip your hand in one cookie jar for the night.

Homebrew and Bottle Conditioned Beer

Been homebrewing for awhile, or maybe you just started and are dying to show off your creations? Possibly have a bunch of bottle conditioned beers sitting in your cellar for a special occasion? It might make sense to share your creations or cherished collection with people you will possibly be sharing every holiday dinner with for the foreseeable future, but this is a great way to have this be your last holiday dinner with them. That is unless you want the whole extended family having to take tasting notes on the qualities and depth of the flatulence from the poor souls who had an unfortunate reaction to the yeast.


So you've decided it is time to grace the plebs and noobs with a gem from your collection. How you will be able to charm and endear them with your exquisite nose and discerning taste buds. They will marvel at your graciousness to share such a rare beer they don't care about with them. Obviously one who is so dedicated and talented at hunting and gathering will be a most ample provider for their SO and all of their future spawn ...

Bringing What The Parents Like To Drink

At this point you might be saying f- this nonsense and calling up your SO to ask what their parents drink. This would be the biggest mistake of all. They can drink what they like the other 364 dinners they have a year, but this is your time to shine. This is your time to climb on top of the table and show them how alpha you are, pounding your chest turkey leg in hand, and displaying your mighty beer intellect. Do you want to acquiesce to their desires for the rest of their lives? Or do you want to show them that not only will you lead, but you'll lead them right to the top of taste mountain. Take their macro lagers from their lips and replace them with a local beer and pump up your ego and the local economy. It is your call. Or you can drink macro lager with your dry turkey for the next few decades.


Holiday dinners and gatherings can be long events. Most likely you are penciled in for arriving early and staying until the gravy starts to congeal. While high ABV beers are fun and mighty tasty, they can quickly sneak up on you leaving you a little too socially lubricated. It is probably not a good idea to really say what you think about the cranberry sauce. Then again a few St. Bernardus Christmas Ales might make Uncle Larry's stories a bit more bearable.

Bitter, Sour, and Smoked Beers

Maybe your SO's family are foodies and are accustomed to some bolder food and beer pairings. This might appear as a chance to try and pair a smoked beer with the smoked turkey or a sour beer with that made from scratch cranberry sauce, but it might be better to hold off on some of these more adventurous styles of beer. You probably don't have a hand in making the meal or really know the menu, so it is better to not start experimenting on family. If you want to suggest Palate Wrecker as a pre dinner aperitif that is on you.

Message On A Bottle

A stumbling block in the journey to the perfect beer for the evening goes beyond what is just in the bottle and also includes what is on the bottle. While Raging Bitch is a tasty beer, it might not be the perfect thing to hand your MIL. Oh that lesser known German craft beer Feuchter Traum is pretty good too, but do you really want people who you are trying to impress possibly finding out that they are drinking a beer called wet dream? No need to worry about little Suzy at dinner right? She isn't even old enough to drink yet. That might be true, but did you remember that little Suzy is a horse girl? Do you really want her watching you sip on Dead Pony Pale Ale all night? Dinner is always less awkward with a ten year old sniffling over their mashed potatoes.


So you've managed to pick out a perfect beer or two to share for the evening and impress your SO's parents. You ask if you can grab a glass from the cabinet to allow that wonderful beer to really shine. Of course they don't mind, but as you pull open the door horror and misfortune becomes evident. They don't have proper glassware. Hell these heathens don't even have the decency to have a shaker glass. You start to panic. Your sweaty palms reach for your cellphone in hopes of finding a nearby big box retailer. Places are open on Thanksgiving and Christmas right? Somewhere has to have some Teku glasses right?  Good thing you always keep that Kwak glass in your trunk. Just make sure to bring up repeatedly through the rest of the night how important proper glassware is.

At this point you may have noticed I've spent plenty of time telling you what not to do and very little actually suggesting anything worthwhile. My only advice is to bring whatever you like to drink, and make sure to grab something else easy to drink if there won't be exclusively beer nerds in attendance. I don't even know these people you are trying to impress! How am I going to know what they want to drink?

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About averageguysguidetobeer

Hi, I'm Colin, I love a good hoppy IPA, but I can find immense enjoyment in a solid session beer, imperial stout, quadrupel or a nostalgic beer from my past.


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