The Bruery Autumn Maple and the First Thanksgiving

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.


: Autumn Maple


: The Bruery


: Belgian Brown Ale


: 10 percent

From the diary of William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony, 1621: Happy Thanksgiving! 'Twas a splendid time we enjoyed in Plymouth this day -- and none too soon. The freedom we pilgrims have found in this new world, I fear, has come at great cost. Poor living conditions, a harsh winter, disease and that damn Chupacabra -- all have taken their toll. Only half of the Mayflower's 102 passengers remain alive. But the survivors, god save them, managed to put together a successful harvest, and so I declared after the work completed that today would be a day of thanksgiving, as was the custom in England. Old habits die hard, etc.

During this celebration, we feasted upon the bounty of our harvest and were joined by some ninety of the Wampanoag Indians, among them their great king Massasoit. The meal and camaraderie were both enjoyable, but something was missing. William Brewster summed it up thusly: "'Tis a fine Thanksgiving we've celebrated this day -- would we but had some ale with which to wash it all down!"

Massasoit's eyes gleamed. "I have just the thing," he said slyly, pulling a small object from his bag. The other pilgrims regarded him with curiosity as he carefully unwrapped a large, decorative bottle.

"My cousin sent this to me," he said. "It's from a brewery in California. They make it with Belgian yeast, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, maple syrup and 17 pounds of yams per barrel."

See also: Arizona Wilderness Picacho Pecan Pie Brown Ale

We paid little heed to Massasoit's strange words (California?), for here was a bottle of ale -- the first any of us had seen since leaving England! Many could hardly hide their joy as the Indian king filled our glasses with the brew, a cloudy liquid with the look of orange-tinged cranberries. A moderately sized layer of froth rose from the depths long after he finished the pour is over and was on display for just a moment before receding.

"Prunes!" one of the colonist called out as she took in the beer's aroma. "And sweet potato pie!" "I smell apple juice!" another exclaimed. Indeed, the bouquet found inside the glass presented both of these, along with notes of maple and cinnamon. The flavor, too, captured food flavors in a sugary concoction -- apple cider, raisins, maple syrup, yams and a subtle cinnamon spiciness. Prickly carbonation caused the thing to fizz up just a bit as it moved around. Alcohol was noticeable within the flavor, but not in the feel of the thing, which was smooth and substantial.

"Good stuff, right?" Massasoit asked. I nodded gratefully, though I felt the brew's drinkability was hurt by its hefty, nearly cloying sweetness. To be honest, I could not drink more than a small glass of it. But, shared between many thirsty mouths, the drink was ambrosia.

As I write this, I am still fueled by a sense of community (or, perhaps, by the beer's substantial alcohol content). Nevertheless, I've determined that Thanksgiving will become a yearly celebration, and that it will culminate in the imbibing of tasty ale. Beer was the reason we chose to land at Plymouth, after all.

See also: 5 Beer/Food Pairings for Thanksgiving

Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.