28 November 2007

What really got served at Thanksgiving dinner

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.


  1. Someone else knows where Waldron is. That is where I graduated from. Waldron is so small I am sure I know your in-laws or maybe even mowed their grass for them or delivered their paper as a kid.

    I need to try some of this. I was actually looking for it at Party Pak the other day but didn't find any. I will keep looking for it.

  2. I've been drinking this all fall since it has been the specialty beer of note at Costco for some time now (it's Guinness season now!). I've used it in cooking a few times and it works really well. It really helps create "down-home" type sauces and stews and works with spices like rosemary and sage. I used it to braise some pork chops in shallots and mushrooms (and then reduced it into a sauce) and it was a success!

  3. Matt--

    I married into the Sever family. Ring any bells?

    For the Harvest Ale, you might try Costco, where Rodney got his, or Sam's Club. Both stores were selling 12-packs of the stuff (Costco is where my father-in-law bought the Thanksgiving stash).

  4. Actually Costco normally sells 2-12 packs bundled together. 24 bottles of Harvest Ale were going for $20. 24 cans of Guinness (3-8 packs) are going for $26. Their beer prices alone are worth the price of a membership.

  5. I do not know that name. Did your wife graduate from Waldron? I graduated in 99 from there.

  6. Youngster. :) Let's just put it this way--she graduated from Waldron High more than a decade before you did.