WITH THE HOLIDAYS approaching, my thoughts are on eating good food with great beer. As usual, I have a bunch of suggestions. But first, I want to make a pitch to support those who don't have enough to eat.

This season, I'm partnering with Philabundance, the city's food bank, to drive hunger from our community. It's a very simple program that I'm calling Eat, Drink & Be Generous, and it works like this: The next time you buy a sixpack, I want you to plunk down an equal amount to help buy food for the needy.

Just head to joesixpack.net and click on the Philabundance link.

It doesn't matter how much you give, whether you're matching a $6.99 sixer of Yuengling or the $35 you just laid out for a pick-a-six selection of exotic imports at your local deli.

The point is: Whatever you think of beer, it is a nonessential item, at least when compared with the loaf of bread or gallon of milk for a family who cannot afford groceries.

Donating some of your beer money so someone else can eat is a reasonable and generous gesture, a neighborly step toward building a better community.

I can't say I came up with this idea out of the blue. Scores of bars, restaurants and breweries commonly support charitable organizations through donations of a portion of their sales.

This year, I was particularly struck by Harpoon Brewing's Grateful Harvest, a cranberry-flavored ale that it brews for Thanksgiving. It's made with fruit donated by the A.D. Makepeace cranberry farm in Massachusetts.

Harpoon donates $1 for every sixpack sold to the local food bank where the beer was purchased. In the last two years, it's raised nearly $50,000 for food banks, and this season it anticipates raising another $35,000.

So here's a distant farm and an out-of-town brewery taking a portion of their profits and giving it to Philabundance so it can buy more food for Philadelphia's needy families.

I figure my readers are at least that generous. And that's why I'm asking you to fork over a bit of your beer money to this good cause.
You'll read more about Eat, Drink & Be Generous in the coming weeks, including several fun holiday fund-raising events.
First, though, to get you into the spirit of the season, here are a few food-and-beer suggestions for Thanksgiving. Shell out a bit of your beer money, and I guarantee it'll make these pairings taste even better.
  • Samuel Adams White Christmas and cheese: This spicy witbier is medium-bodied and bubbly. Try it with a wedge of Vermeer, a nutty raw-milk Gouda-like cheese from Pennsylvania's Keswick Creamery.
  • Grateful Harvest and turkey: The ale's tart fruit is a palate-cleaning contrast to the succulent meat.
  • Penn Nut Roll Ale and pumpkin pie: Penn says its cinnamon-and-vanilla winter ale is inspired by those Eastern European-style pastries served by Pittsburgh "nanas" during the holidays.
  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and spiced wafers: My family favors Ivins Famous Spiced Wafers, which you can get only at the Acme, but Sweetzels do the trick, too. Take a bite, then a sip of the rich, black and malty ale. Or dunk. It's a perfect autumn treat.
  • Duvel Rustica and leftovers. Brewery Ommegang's version of Duvel, the famous Belgian golden ale, will go well with almost any hearty dish, especially turkey casserole.
With hundreds of holiday beers on the shelves, it's nearly impossible to try them all. Here's two ways to taste some:
  • Joe Sixpack's Case Club: It's a simple case share in which we pool our bucks, and I select 24 different holiday beers for a case that can be picked up during one of my free Friday afternoon samplings at Bell Beverage (2809 S. Front St.). This season, I've added a limited supply of 22-ounce and 750 ml bottles. Info at www.joesixpack.net.
  • Winter Beerfest: This Thanksgiving weekend fest boasts more than 100 beers from around the world. It features afternoon and evening sessions on Nov. 24 at Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden St.). Tickets are $40 online at winterbeerfest.com.

 


 

"Joe Sixpack" is by Don Russell, director of Philly Beer Week. For more on the beer scene, sign up for his weekly email update at joesixpack.net. E-mail: joesixpack@phillynews.com.