Hello Wisconsin: Finding Reasons to Be Thankful for Packer Football in a Tough Season

Every year for my Thanksgiving column I like to highlight some of the reasons why I’m thankful to be a Packer fan. 

Well, it’s been pretty easy the last several years to come up with a good list. This year… not so much. But even in these trying times, I’m still out here watching every minute of the games and taking in as much Packers-related content as I can all week long, because I am a hopeless junky who needs to get a life.

It’s been a weird couple years in the world. As much as I joke about being a football junky, it is still occasionally hard to care as much as I once did, as national and global events have made the importance of football pale in comparison to other things happening. That plus, like, having young kids. The losses don’t sting as much, the victories aren’t as satisfying. 

And yet it’s hard to imagine life without the Green Bay Packers. So here are a few things I’m thankful for about the team this year:

  • The online community: It’s never been easier to find outstanding Packers content created by people who actually care about the team and understand the game. I’m not one of those who’s critical of the local beat at all; I think they generally do great work. However, the work they do is mostly outdated. If you’re looking for great multimedia work and Xs and Os analysis, or simply stuff that will make you laugh, you’ll find it all over the internet. Yes, people lose their minds a bit in the comments, but look for the actual creators who are putting in hard work to help people understand the game just because they like doing so.

 

  • Aaron Jones: Could this dude be any more likable? Despite never being used in the way he should, he’s always got a smile on his face, never really complains, and always leaves it all out on the field. It sucks that he likely won’t be a Packer next year because of his contract, because he’s everything you want out of a player wearing the green and gold.

 

  • Still beating the Cowboys and Bears: The Packers may suck this year, but at least they’re still better than the Bears and can still own the Cowboys. If you’re going to be trash, at least beat your rivals. 

 

  • The 2022 draft class: As much as people criticize Brian Gutekunst as a drafter, and often rightfully so, the early returns from this class are looking really solid, especially in recent weeks. Quay Walker has been a different player since being ejected in Buffalo, and was ALL OVER the field last Thursday against Tennessee. Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson both look like hits at wide receiver and have a ton of potential. Heck, even Samori Toure may have a future as a depth player at the position. Zach Tom has flashed positive signs that he can be a long-term contributor. Kingsley Enagbare has really been stepping up into a bigger role in the defense. If all those guys continue along their current trajectory, this is looking to be a really nice class of young players. 

 

  • Lambeau Field: Packer fans are so incredibly lucky to have the Lambeau Field experience. The stadium aesthetic, the tailgating experience, the surrounding neighborhood, it’s all so unique and incredible. Even when the team is struggling, you can’t understate just how awesome of a fan experience Packer fans are able to enjoy during home games.

There have been all kinds of challenges and annoyances about this year of football for the Green Bay Packers, but as always, I’m happy to ride along for the journey. I’m 34 years old and have known a winner essentially my entire life. It’s hard to be too upset.

Wisconsin Beer of the Week

With my brother in town for Thanksgiving, I went with him and my dad for the first time to Ope Brewing Company, located in West Allis (just west of Milwaukee, for those not familiar). I was pretty impressed with the wide variety of beers they have for such a new brewery, and with the large, attractive, hip facility they’ve got. It’s not exactly in the most convenient location as I never really have a reason to go to West Allis, but it was good enough that I’ll be planning a return trip at some point.

Any way, between the three of us we got flights of everything they had on the menu, some 16 beers or so. One of those flights seen above.

There were a few that really impressed me. Their blueberry sour was delicious, as was the milkshake IPA. There were some really excellent traditional beers, such as an American pale ale and a saison that both really hit the spot. There was also a barleywine that went down smoothly.

Because this is a Packers-adjacent column, I will feature their Belgian dubbel aptly named “Discount Dubbel Check.”  Here’s the description from Ope:

“On or off the field, this classic Belgian Dubbel with its malty body, slightly sweet finish, and elevated ABV will certainly help you R-E-L-A-X.”

Great description, and a solid beer. It comes in at 7.5% ABV, which is pretty standard for a dubbel, and features the classic smooth, sweet, floral flavor you’re probably familiar with if you enjoy drinking Belgian-style beers. 

I really enjoyed Ope. Fun place, good beer, cool to see an area like West Allis get something like this. They have beer for everyone on the menu, so whether you’re more into your traditional lagers, pale ales, belgians and dunkels or are looking for something little funkier and more experimental, you’ll find something to like there. 

Check it out if you’re ever in the area.

And then hit up Pizzeria Scotty in West Allis afterwards for a stuffed pizza and some Scotty sticks. Thank me later.

Tim’s Thanksgiving beer specials

But wait… MORE beer!

You may recall my Thanksgiving Day column from last year, when I gave you a bit of a preview of the special beers I like to bring out of the cellar when hosting a gathering like Thanksgiving. Usually I try to crack open five or so bombers to split among we beer enthusiasts at the event. I try to get stuff that covers a wide range of styles and flavors, but all high quality.

Here are a few I’m looking at bringing out this year and the descriptions from the brewery.

  • All Too Well, Flanders Red Ale from 1840 Brewing Company: Fermented with a Belgian yeast strain in stainless in June 2019, then refermented and aged in second-use wine barrels with a mixed culture of yeast and bacteria for 25 months. Bottle conditioned for natural carbonation. 6% ABV. 4.23/5 Untappd rating.
  • Chimay Grande Reserve (Blue), Belgian Strong Dark Ale from Bieres de Chimay: The Chimay Blue Cap, baptized “Grande Reserve” in 750 ml bottles, is a dark Trappist beer with a powerful aroma, the complex flavor of which improves across the years. It was first brewed as a Christmas beer by the monks of Scourmont Abbey in 1956. This authentic Belgian beer, whose tinge of fresh yeast is associated with a light rosy flowery touch, is particularly pleasant. Its aroma, perceived as one enjoys it, only accents the delightful sensations revealed by the odor, all revealing a light but agreeable carmelized note. 9% ABV. 
  • The Rusty Nail (2019), Imperial Double Oatmeal Stout from Fremont Brewing: The Rusty Nail begins life as The First Nail, an oatmeal stout of epic proportions with brewer’s licorice, smoked barley, and pale malt and aged on cinnamon bark. She becomes the Rusty Nail after spending 15 months in 12-year-old bourbon barrels. The Rusty Nail pounds your palate, challenges your perception of all that you’ve known of beer, and leaves you wanting another sip. 13.2% ABV, 4.41 Untappd rating.
  • Twenty One (2018), Barrel Aged Imperial Stout from Central Waters Brewing: Every year Central Waters releases a new barrel-aged stout to celebrate its anniversary. The brewery throws a big party at its Amherst home in February to celebrate the occasion. This particular edition is rich in body and flavor and has a very smooth finish, concealing its 13.5% ABV. 4.49 Untappd rating.
  • VIP Blend 2 (2018), Aged Farmhouse Ale from 1840 Brewing Company: In its early days, 1840 brewed some experimental batches that it would then sell as secret menu items to VIPs. I still have one of those original batches left, a farmhouse ale fermented in a single oak puncheon. This one is a rare treat and quite funky, though certainly not for everyone. 6.75% ABV, 4.15 Untappd rating.

That’s the fancy stuff anyway–there’ll be plenty of other beers from your New Glarus up to your local delicacies, and I might even get crazy and bring out some of the other years-old stouts I’ve got aging in the cellar!

Do the Packers have a chance in Philly?

I’ll give my final prediction below (spoiler alert, I am not taking the Packers), but I’m sure the question on many people’s minds going into this weekend is whether the Packers can actually win this football game.

It is true that the Eagles have had some less-than-stellar performances lately. They barely beat the Colts, who may be the worst team in football. They lost to the Commanders at home, who one would have thought to be the inferior club. They didn’t particularly impress against the Texans, and they barely beat the Cardinals. 

People are going to toss out the “any given Sunday” trope, but there’s a reason this football team is in the position it’s in so far this season. They’ve been surprisingly well coached, and Jalen Hurts has played MVP-caliber football for much of the season. They’re a dynamic football team, and have a raucous fan base that makes playing in Philadelphia quite a challenge.

If the Packers are going to win, their offense is going to have to sustain drives. You cannot leave a defense out all game long against Jalen Hurts. That means running the football effectively, yes, but also, Aaron Rodgers is going to have to complete some freaking passes. He’s been tossing errant lollipops all over the field. If his thumb is truly injured to the point where it’s causing him to be that inaccurate, then the team really has even more problems, because you KNOW they’re not going to bench him for Jordan Love under any circumstance.

So is this team capable of winning this weekend? Sure, why not. Will they actually pull it off?

See my prediction below.

Around the NFC North

Once again we’ll take a quick look around the NFC North at what the Packers’ rivals are doing.

  • The CHICAGO BEARS keep losing winnable games. However, if you’re a Bears fan, you probably are feeling pretty positive about the team’s progress. Even if they’re losers, at least they’re interesting this year. There are positive signs of a build for the future. However, Justin Fields is questionable for this weekend due to a shoulder separation and a partially torn ligament. It’s also interesting that Chase Claypool has done approximately nothing for this team since signing with them. So while things have been a little improved for this Bears squad, there’s still a lot that’s going wrong.

 

  • The DETROIT LIONS suddenly find themselves in second place in the NFC North and in the wildcard race for the NFC, which lends some extra interest to their matchup against the Bills today on this Thanksgiving Day. With key tiebreakers over the Giants and Packers, the Lions have a legitimate path to the playoffs, though they would need some help in getting there. A shocking win on Thanksgiving against the potent Bills offense would certainly lend much more credence to the idea of them playing into January.

 

  • The MINNESOTA VIKINGS were absolutely humiliated against the Cowboys, and you absolutely love to see it. Unfortunately I missed the whole thing, as I was gone for much of the weekend and unable to see much in the way of football action. But I heard it was so glorious that CBS even cut away from the game to take out-of-market viewers to more competitive action. THAT is the good stuff. Hopefully there’s more of that sort of Icarus-like downfall to come, because this Vikings team is flying a little too close to the sun for me at the moment.

Thanksgiving foods, ranked

Earlier this week I was asking all of my students and fellow teachers about their favorite Thanksgiving foods. What I noticed was there was a surprising lack of representation of stuffing among students, whereas it was regularly the favorite among teachers.

Is stuffing starting to fade out into the next generation? Do the youth of today simply have poor taste?

Here is my definitive ranking of Thanksgiving foods that make regular appearances at my gatherings. This is, of course, not counting pie, which you can assume would share the top spot.

  1. Stuffing. The true elite. Everyone has a stuffing recipe they’ve been using for generations. My family’s stuffing features flavors from croutons, sausage, celery and more that makes it hearty and delicious.
  2. Sweet potato casserole. The edition my family makes is truly outstanding. It’s got mashed sweet potatoes with some marshmallow fluff, a cinnamon crumble topping and crushed pecans. A little taste of dessert with the main course.
  3. Turkey. Yes, I know, the turkey is always the star of the show, but it’s never my absolute favorite part of the meal. That being said, I do cook a mean turkey on the grill. Today I’ll have a 20-lb bird, liberally basted with a mixture of butter, oil, herbs, salt and pepper. I baste every 15 minutes and grill on indirect heat at low temperature for close to 4 hours (the amount of time it takes for the interior to reach 160 degrees) then remove and tent to allow it to finish cooking. The result is a flavorful and moist turkey that really, truly hits.
  4. Mashed potatoes. Generously topped with gravy. Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?
  5. Cranberry sauce. There are some folks who really love the gelatinous stuff that comes in a can and keeps the can form when it’s extracted. Personally I prefer the homemade stuff, but I do enjoy watching that canned weirdness wiggle on the tray.

I’ll pass on the green bean casserole. Boring, not a fan, not even that into green beans. And no dinner rolls, please. Bread takes up valuable stomach space that can be used on other, more important foods. However, if there are cranberry muffins present I will absolutely take one of those.

My family has never been a cheesy potato or mac and cheese family for Thanksgiving dinners, but I know there are those who swear by them as sides. 

Honorable mention to a well-assembled charcuterie board as an appetizer, because who doesn’t love cheese and cured meats?

Final look: Packers at Eagles and Week 12 Picks

The Packers gave us the last bit of life they had against the Cowboys, then came out and looked like dead fish against the Titans. Any hope I had for the team to be able to create a Run-the-Table-like rally is now permanently gone.

They get blown out this week.

Eagles 31, Packers 13

 

WEEK 12 PICKS

THANKSGIVING DAY: BILLS over Lions

THANKSGIVING DAY: COWBOYS over Giants

THANKSGIVING DAY: PATRIOTS over Vikings

DOLPHINS over Texans

BENGALS over Titans

BRONCOS over Panthers

JETS over Bears

COMMANDERS over Falcons

BUCS over Browns

RAVENS over Jaguars

SEAHAWKS over Raiders

CARDINALS over Chargers

49ERS over Saints

CHIEFS over Rams

EAGLES over Packers

STEELERS over Colts

 

LAST WEEK:  9-5

SEASON TOTAL: 93-71

 

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (15)

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

November 24, 2022 at 06:24 am

Happy Thanksgiving Tim!
As a retired teacher and not-retired foodie, Yours is the column I most look forward to every week, so I give thanks to you and it! I also spend way too much time reading Packer news (and feeling guilty when I also read about worldly events which are far more meaningful).
Maybe those worldly events are why I also give thanks for all of the great content creators out there, especially those at Cheesehead and Acme (and Mike, Wes, and Larry). I really need to escape the daily barrage of bad news!

Thanksgiving foods: After a lifetime of my immediate family's stuffing and sides, I had to adjust to my in-laws regular items (which involves a little mourning each Thanksgiving).
That said, I love cranberries from scratch, all stuffings, turkey, and pumpkin pie. I also really enjoy the vegetable sides, especially brussels sprouts (with bacon and balsamic) and green beans (casserole or almondine). I agree about rolls, but I bake a new recipe each year to keep it interesting (this year's includes yogurt and rosemary).

A Happy Thanksgiving to all of you writers and readers of Cheesehead TV! I'm thankful for all of you!

PackEyedOptimist (PEO)

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PatrickGB's picture

November 24, 2022 at 06:44 am

Thanks Tim. Save a little room for dessert. Here in the south we include red rice, collards, sweet potato pie and cornbread.

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Since'61's picture

November 24, 2022 at 06:55 am

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow Packers fans here at CHTV and to all CHTV contributors and staff.

Everyone have a great bird, enjoy the day and safe travels.

Thanks, Since ‘61

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Savage57's picture

November 24, 2022 at 07:21 am

I'm thankful for guys who still write articles using larger font sizes.

I can agree on the stuffing as the star of the show, with the generational recipes. One year, just as a kicker, we decided to roast some chestnuts over an open fire the night before Thanksgiving. We saved about a dozen, and chopped them up and put 'em in the stuffing. Haven't skipped roasted chestnuts in stuffing since, but the oven sure is easier than holding a cast iron skillet over the coals with welding gloves on.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

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Pantz_Burp's picture

November 24, 2022 at 07:46 am

There is SO much to be thankful for and many opportunities to be kind. But, the one that always wins in the end is mirrors. I am most grateful for mirrors...

I am leaning into a vegan meal, it makes me happy.

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LLCHESTY's picture

November 24, 2022 at 08:33 am

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

I enjoy Tim's beer reviews but unfortunately the rise of the hard seltzers has pushed out a lot of smaller, non local, breweries for space. Even in Madison it's hard to find some Milwaukee beers Tim has talked about. They've also pushed out one of my favorite go to beers in the cooler months, Anchor Steam, that used to be pretty easy to find.

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Handsback's picture

November 24, 2022 at 09:08 am

Thank you Tim for the work you do for us cheeseheads!
Never lived in WI (Madison, IN was as close as I've gotten) but a Packer fan since 5th grade.
Playing football and lacrosse either wore jersey numbers 66 or Jim Taylor's number. So they are my team. Like you, their wins and loss have diminish in importance over the years. In fact until I started writing my football book...didn't watch a lot of pro games.
This team is poorly managed and will leave it at that. I've seen the Lions a couple times and impressed with how they work for their coach. Not so much with the Packers.
I'm a military brat and Thanksgiving was always the big celebration for food. Since this is the 4th qtr. of my life, I have found that there are a few things I make that are great, mac and cheese, and cinnamon buns which I just finished frosting. Neither are healthy but only do them at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Handsback's picture

November 24, 2022 at 09:35 am

One last thing...my daughter made a layer casserole from the left over Thanksgiving dinner. It included cranberry sauce and was outstanding. Recommend it for those who like melded flavors.

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Handsback's picture

November 24, 2022 at 09:35 am

One last thing...my daughter made a layer casserole from the left over Thanksgiving dinner. It included cranberry sauce and was outstanding. Recommend it for those who like melded flavors.

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HawkPacker's picture

November 24, 2022 at 10:39 am

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

My favorites in order:

Dressing/stuffing
Turkey
Mashed potatoes
Canned cranberry's (not the gel)
Green Almondine
Last but not least-Pumpkin Pie with a bunch of cool whip!

Have a great holiday everyone.

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13TimeChamps's picture

November 24, 2022 at 10:46 am

Like others have noted on here, while I will always root for the Packers, the wins/losses don't affect me as much as I've gotten older. But, that being said, with all the craziness going on in the world right now, I sure am thankful for those 3 hours each week when I can shut that all out and enjoy watching my Packers...win or lose.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Enjoy feasting on whatever family traditions have given you pleasure over the years.

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Starrbrite's picture

November 24, 2022 at 03:00 pm

A blessed Thanksgiving to y’all—in Wisconsin and all us Packer fans living in other parts of the country.
A great article Tim—it’s like sitting around the the Thanksgiving table discussing football and everything else from food to alcohol—love it.
Go Packers!!!

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Philarod's picture

November 24, 2022 at 04:16 pm

Happy Thanksgiving to the whole Cheesehead Family!

Enjoy the remaining football, food, family and friends time (All 4 Fs)!

Informal Ranking of Common Foods:
Turkey/Gravy
Pumpkin Pie
Mashed Potatoes
General Veggies
Stuffing

Cranberry Sauce.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

November 24, 2022 at 04:20 pm

We have great nearby neighbors who came here from Italy and are about as delightful a couple as you ever hope to meet. They arrived with next to nothing and are the epitome of a success story. They are also the closest thing to being experts at everything I can think of, including cooking. This will be the highlight of the week for me when I get to taste her Tiramisu.

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Grandfathered's picture

November 24, 2022 at 05:48 pm

Hopefully the 22 draft class pan\s out. I am hopeful Ryhan and Walker and Wyatt show something great. Traditional side dishes in our house are wild rice mushroom hot dish and sweey corn bacon hotdish. Happy Thanksgiving!

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