Last week, I discussed Michael Jackson's suggestion of a Vienna lager as the perfect beer for Thanksgiving dinner. So, a Vienna-style lager is what I expected when we arrived at my in-laws' Waldron, Indiana palace for a down-home Thanksgiving meal (any Thanksgiving dinner that includes noodles and gravy along with the mashed potatoes is way "down-home" in my book). But a bevy of Vienna lager wasn't in my father-in-law's beverage fridge (you know, a beverage fridge--the 20-year-old Frigidaire that's in the garage and contains various and sundry beers and soft drinks). The beer on the shelf was Goose Island Harvest Ale.
As I pulled a Harvest Ale off the shelf and shut the fridge door, I wasn't quite sure what to expect out of this beer because there was absolutely nothing on the bottle to tell me about it. I guess I thought it would contain some sort of spices associated with autumn--a little cinnamon or perhaps some nutmeg--which really didn't get me excited to try this stuff. Spicy beers just don't do it for me.
I was pleased, however, to find that the Harvest Ale is brewed in the Extra Special Bitter (ESB) style, which happens to be my favorite British beer style. ESB lovers know that this style of beer is all about a good hop/malt balance. The Harvest Ale fit that profile perfectly. Brewed with Cascade hops, this copper-colored beer had a wonderful citrus nose and flavor, with a slight hint of rye. Backing this up was a fantastic caramel-like malt flavor. Paired with the turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, this beer really shined.
In short, my father-in-law made an outstanding choice with this ale. If you're into ESB's, this seasonal offering won't disappoint you.