When your mother-in-law crinkles her nose at you while you chug a beer with your Thanksgiving dinner, put down the mug and tell her this story.

If not for beer we very well might not have ever had Thanksgiving. The pilgrims didn’t land at Plymouth Rock because they wanted to… they were off course and running out of beer, both bad things.

So instead of risking it and continuing on to their intended destination (present day Virginia) they thought it best to get ashore and get to brewing beer (among other things like building shelter for the winter.) Good to know that they had their priorities straight!

During that period much of the publicly accessible water in Europe was very unsafe to drink but beer wasn’t. They didn’t know at the time that the boiling that occurs during the brewing process was in fact sterilizing the beer thus killing most harmful containment.

Despite having a number of puritans among them, beer was still safer than water and thus necessary for survival. Little did they know that the water in the “new world” was much different than Europe – clean and nearly untouched – but beer was still safer.

Those who were at the first Thanksgiving normally drank about one quart per day, which was for a long time rationed from what was left on the ship until they were able to brew their own batches. Or at least that was the plan.

So as the story goes, the colonists used up their beer supply by the time Christmas rolled around and the captain of the ship was withholding more than he let anyone know… by the time many had died (both crew and passengers) it was revealed that not only had the captain gotten them lost, but he had been withholding a vast amount of beer.

So this Thanksgiving if you decide to bogart your beer, it is in the spirit of the first settlers… but if you decide to share may I suggest Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale.

Forget pairing wine with food – beer is so much more complicated and fun! Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale is an English-style nut brown ale. There is a slight smoky bitterness with a slightly sweet nut flavor. And don’t be afraid of the dark – while dark in color it’s a pretty mild beer in the flavor and booze department. This is a perfect thing to pair with your turkey and stuffing as well as all of the other hardy foods that go along with the holiday.

One of the other great things about Thanksgiving is desert, of course. How about pairing a beer with desert? Grab that big old piece of chocolate cream pie that grandma made and wash it down with a chocolate stout. My favorite is from Southern Tier Brewing Company – it’s called (odd spelling is their thing) choklat stout. It’s an imperial stout, which were once reserved for royalty. So go ahead and thumb your nose at the king… have this with your Thanksgiving desert and then go pass out on the couch.