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Vegan Holiday Beer Feast

North America (and its food) has always been a mix of cultures and ideas. This is especially apparent during our holiday celebrations where we share tables and traditions with generations of relatives and friends who may or may not think or eat like we do. In my family alone, we celebrate with food from the Southern United States, Mexico and Poland. We host both meat-eaters and vegans. There’s even a good mix of Democrats and Republicans who break bread together. Nobody said it’s easy to bring all these different viewpoints around the same table, but sharing a meal that welcomes everyone to that table is a good start.

Our holiday menu does just that. It is rooted in tradition, with familiar flavors, textures and aromas. Every dish is hearty and satisfying and it’s all paired with delicious craft brews, of course. What makes our menu uniquely inclusive is that it’s completely plant-based; there’s no meat, eggs or dairy. Even so, each item was chosen for its stick-to-your-ribs meatiness to treat even the most zealous meat-eaters to a satisfying and welcoming seat at the table.

In fact, our menu demonstrates just how indulgent vegan food can be – it’s not just kale and carrots. Most nutritionists would caution against making our menu a regular treat. But that’s the point; it’s not often that family and friends come together for a big meal on a festive occasion. This is a special day to celebrate those very special people. Bonus points that it all goes well with craft beer!

To create a plant-based menu that resembled a traditional holiday meal, we started with herbs and spices that fill the kitchen with familiar, nostalgic aromas, like the thyme and rosemary that go into our main dishes and sides.

While the main meal is cooking, our guests are treated to Pumpkin Seed Hummus Pinwheels. Many pinwheel recipes call for cream cheese, sour cream and sandwich meat. We created our pinwheels to imbue the kitchen with another inviting holiday aroma—toasted pumpkin seeds. Our pinwheels are filled with delicious hummus made of toasted pumpkin seeds, cannellini beans, sliced bell peppers, carrot strips and spinach.

 The hearty Scotch ales we paired with our pinwheels could possibly be served as appetizers in their own right, but the peaty, earthy and thick sweetness of Founders Dirty Bastard and Four Peaks Kilt Lifter pair with our apps perfectly – kicking the meal off the right way.

As guests gather around the table to eat, we serve up Creamy Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup. Made with a mix of fresh mushrooms, wild rice, leeks, and a rich dairy-free creamer, this soup welcomes guests to the table with a comely, “have a seat and stay a while” impact. AleSmith’s Nut Brown Ale is a perfect match, linking elegantly to the comforting nutty base notes in the soup.

We chose Field Roast’s Celebration Roast as the showcase for our holiday menu because it has the look, texture, and nod of flavor to traditional holiday meats. Field Roast, a Seattle-based company, specializes in creating plant-based meats and cheese made from grains, vegetables, legumes and spices. They understand that food is a large part of our culture, and they create foods that look like meat because they know how deeply rooted our food traditions are. Combined with roasted vegetables, this entree tastes like home.

North America (and its food) has always been a mix of cultures and ideas. This is especially apparent during our holiday celebrations where we share tables and traditions with generations of relatives and friends who may or may not think or eat like we do. 

If Field Roast is unavailable, Tofurky also makes a holiday roast that is similar in look and texture to the Celebration Roast. Simply follow the directions on the packaging for Tofurky and make the Roasted Vegetables according to our recipe, minus the Celebration Roast.

Our Apple Stuffing, No-Moo Mashed Potatoes, and Happy Chick Homemade Gravy are all meant to hearken the heart to the comforts of home. This theme becomes especially apparent when our sides are paired with a refreshing pale ale, such as Dale’s Pale Ale by Oskar Blues or Fremont Brewing’s Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop Ale. These lightly hoppy brews both complement and contrast the richness of these dishes without overpowering them.

Finally, it’s time for dessert. We couldn’t pick just one so we made three—pumpkin pie, peanut butter blossom cookies and a shortbread cookie that tastes deliciously like pecan pie.

Peanut butter blossom cookies are usually topped with Hershey’s Kisses. Since Kisses have milk in them, we devised our own topper by roughly chopping stoneground Mexican chocolate from Rancho Gordo (available online). This chocolate has a hint of cinnamon in it which works surprisingly well with the cookie. If Rancho Gordo isn’t on your shopping list, any dark chocolate can be used to top the peanut butter cookies. The result is a tasty, full-of-flavor cookie that’ll leave you reaching for more.

After such a satiating meal, a lighter brew can be more appealing. That’s why we paired our desserts with something a little lighter than an Imperial Stout. Black Raven had just the thing with their Coco Jones coconut porter. Its subtle nut and coffee tones lend the perfect harmonizing note on which to end dinner. It provides just the right amount of sweet without taking things into saccharine territory.

And that’s really the goal here, isn’t it? To bring a little harmony to the holiday table without losing touch with who we are. We’re not shy about making this vegan menu for our guests because we had them all in mind as we planned. We want everyone to feast and enjoy. It is indulgent and decadent. The heartiness of it is meant to satisfy everyone, even the most dedicated omnivore. When the last crumb and sip have been savored and everyone is fat and happy, this meal will be remembered as a celebration of all the unique family and friends who came to share it – alongside plenty of lush craft brews to boot.

Photos Courtesy Sherry Dryja

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