Beer-Brined Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

By on November 25, 2013

Food, food, food, and more food. Plus, so many winter warming beers coming out or already out. Pumpkin beers, dark ales, strong ales, spicy ales, Christmas ales, etc. Heavy beers. Heavy foods. More family time. More naps. Eh, you get the idea. Fall and winter are fantastic.

Turkey is pretty much on every plate across America on Thanksgiving. It’s the main course! Simple salt and pepper, stuffed, herbs, fruited, smoked, brined, fried, roasted….the list goes on. Not many do a beer brine. Lets face it, turkeys are huge, and in my opinion, to do a successful brine with beer, you need a lot of beer. I’ve done this turkey the past few seasons at my house. And it seems I get more guests each year just for my turkey. So, I’m here to share with you my recipe. Its the season of giving afterall


Beer I always choose for this brine is Sierra Nevada’s seasonal beer “Celebration Ale” IPA. A wonderful, dry, fruity, and mildly hoppy IPA. And, coincidentally, it just happens to hit Oklahoma shelves every year in November. If no Celebration Ale, then choose a balanced (between malts and hops) and fruity style of IPA or pale ale for your brine.

Ingredients for Brine
1 gallon of Sierra Nevada “Celebration Ale” IPA (1 gallon equates to 12 12oz bottles)
2 tsp whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
6 bay leaves
2 bunches thyme
1 bunch rosemary
3 yellow onions, rough chop
4 celery sticks, rough chop
4 carrots, rough chop
5 tangerines, quartered
2 lemons, quartered
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 gallon water (ice cold, preferably)

Ingredients for Aromatics
1 bunch Rosemary
1 bunch Thyme
1 cinnamon stick
1 tangerine
1 lemon

Other items
One 12-16lb turkey

1 5gallon food-grade safe bucket
small cooler with an xlarge turkey oven bag and ice

Not going to lie, this is a long process (around 36 hours). But the work is minimal. Its really just sitting around and waiting for the most part.

As easy as it sounds….put everything in the brine list (minus ice water) in a large stock pot. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring. Then turn off the heat and let cool.


Once room temp, add in the gallon of ice cold water. You want the brine to be extremely cold so it doesn’t raise the temp of the turkey once placed in the brine. Set brine in fridge to let cool even more. Maybe an hour or so.

Now, you have one of two options….1) set turkey in brine in the 5 gallon bucket and place bucket in fridge to keep cold Or 2) set turkey in brine in an x-large turkey oven bag, tie it off, and then place in small cooler and surround with ice. Then we wait. 36 hours, to be exact. Make sure the turkey is COMPLETELY submerged in the brine and cold at all times.

When time is up, you take turkey out of the brine, rinse the turkey, pat extremely dry with paper towels, and set on counter to allow to rise to room temp.

Preheat your oven to 475. Season with a little salt and pepper in the cavity. Stuff the turkey with aromatics if you like. Truss the turkey. Season the outside with a little salt and pepper. Place in a roasting rack and into the oven. Cook at 475 for 30 min, then reduce heat to 350 for roughly 2.5 hours. Cook until internal temp in the thigh reads 164 degrees, and done!


One of the most important things for meat is to allow for rest. With this size of turkey, simple lay a piece of foil over the top on the counter, and allow to rest for 30mins before slicing it up. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Cheers!

Jeremiah Ramey: Author –

Lover of craft beer and great food. Eat local and drink local, my friends.


About Jeremiah Ramey


  1. Joey

    December 4, 2013 at 11:11 am

    This is my preferred method for turkey. I usually buy a brine bag from Target and place in my fridge. It is really hard to screw up your brine. The most critical part is the sea/kosher salt. While two cups seems like a lot it will not taste salty. The salt is critical for allowing the flavors to osmote (is that a word?) into the bird while it is soaking. We used a darker beer this year and it added a nice caramel color to the skin.

  2. Jeremiah

    December 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, Joey. And I completely agree with you. Darker beer, eh? I may have to change my recipe up bit for next year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>