Beer (& More) In Food

Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!

Archive for July, 2007

Beer Nutritional Labeling At Least 3 Years Away

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 31, 2007

fatmansitting.gifWhile Google and Yahoo Alerts are trumpheting that the Department of Treasury is considering a new rule that would require companies to put alcoholic content, serving sizes and nutritional information on all alcoholic drink containers, take a deep breath and regroup. After you cut through all the hyperbole, the fact remains that even if Treasury via the Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) decides to give this a “GO,” it will be at least 3 years  before anything will happen.

Makes for great headlines, that’s all. In the meantime, why wait another 3 years for nutritional info on your favorite beer?


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Beer & War

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 29, 2007



   Awhile back, I was watching a reporter from Fox wrapping up an interview with an Army colonel when he concluded the live shot with this afterthought of a question.
“Colonel,” asked the media guy, “if there was one thing you and your men could really use out here, what would it be?”
“A cold beer,” said the field grade officer without hesitation, a single bead of sweat running down his brow. “I think we’d kill for a cold beer!” With an M-16 slung over his left shoulder and an M1A1 Abrams tank behind him, I couldn’t tell if he was kidding or not, but still, I figured, a poor choice of words given the circumstances.

   But moaning about a beer? Same old army, I thought. I’m sure you’ve heard it before that an army travels on its stomach, but after all, they also need something to wash down their daily rations.

   As a matter of fact, General George Washington’s troops had the same thing on their minds during the early part of the Revolutionary War, and the newly formed United States government knew it. One of the first laws passed by the Continental Congress directed the army quartermaster to ensure that all soldiers received a daily allotment of beer. Since good-quality English malted barley was unavailable for brewing purposes during the war, all sorts of beers were made using indigenous American ingredients. Whether these brews were made from spruce, corn or a combination of bran and molasses, they all served the purpose of putting a smile on the face of every Continental Army “grunt.” At the same time, beer also kept troops away from the more debilitating effects of cheap rum and whiskey, a problem that cropped up whenever beer rations stopped.

   During the Civil War, things weren’t much different for troops on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, though beer was no longer part of their authorized daily rations. Instead, a cottage industry of so-called “Sutlers” followed the troops around with wagons loaded with beer and whiskey. A soldier writing home to his family once noted that if a Sutler’s wagon of lager beer was nearby, and “…as long as the money lasted, comfort was taken.”

   By the time World War I rolled around, having a beer on a military post proved impossible. As a matter of fact, because of the hysteria surrounding anti-German sentiment and the fact that so many brewers were of German descent, it also became impossible for a serviceman to find a beer hall or saloon within miles of a military post that could legally serve beer. Prohibitionists had lobbied a weak-kneed Congress to not only ban alcohol from stateside military posts but to also establish saloon-free zones around the posts!

   When America went to war in 1941, however, G.I.s found conditions much different than their Doughboy counterparts did in WW I. Beer was no longer banned on military posts; it was actually encouraged. Mindful of the problems that had arisen from National Prohibition, the Feds decided that beer was now a morale booster and decreed that all U.S. breweries allocate fifteen-percent of their production for the enjoyment of the Armed Services.

   While the packaging of beer in metal cans on the home front was prohibited beginning in 1942 for conservation purposes, servicemen continued to enjoy canned beer while serving overseas. Many of the cans were colored in camouflage green, including the tops and bottoms. This was done to lessen the possibility that light reflecting off a can during the evening might give a sniper the chance to make that canned beer your last one.

   On a tiny South Pacific atoll chain is an island called Mog-Mog that served as a recreational stop for sailors and marines from 1944 until the end of the war. Its primary purpose was to serve as a supply and repair port but became more famously known amongst servicemen as a place where they could spend a couple of hours and drink refreshingly COLD beer rather than the warm brews they normally had tolerated. Generator-powered refrigerators kept huge stocks of beer chilled, causing ships to make passage to the island for just about any reason. Even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was said to have found an excuse to make a pit-stop at the three-quarter by one-half mile island. I don’t know if it was nothing more than the cold beer that enticed FDR to swing by or not but I certainly don’t remember any top secret war conferences going on at Mog-Mog.

   With V-J Day ending war with Japan on August 14, 1945, the returning troops that passed though the island port on September 2, 1945 had loosened up enough to really enjoy a cold beer or two. On that day, over 51,000 cans of cold beer were consumed on Mog-Mog, prompting Admiral Chester Nimitz to refer to the island as the “Navy’s secret weapon.”

   Lately though, our fighting men and women have had to contend with the “sensitivites” of other nations as they fulfilled their military duties. During the Bosnian peace-keeping efforts, military officials prohibited the displaying of the American flag at their outposts, trying not to antagonize the local populace. Though some of the troops agreed with the higher-ups on this decision, when beer also went on the list of prohibited items, the shit hit the fan. A ferocious letter-writing campaign by G.I.s to the Stars and Stripes newspaper complained that not only was beer prohibited on the front lines in Bosnia, but also in the supply and support bases in Hungary and Croatia. Eventually, things loosened up in the rear areas of the conflict when discipline started to become a problem.

   When the Gulf War kicked-in in early 1991, G.I.s found themselves in Saudi Arabia where alcohol is banned for religious reasons. War is hell, they say, especially for beer drinkers in the land of shieks.

   Now we’re in Iraq. Amazingly, this country has a brewing industry. As a matter of fact, Mesopatamia, an ancient Middle East country where Iraq is located today, is considered by many archaeologists to be the area where beer was first brewed. Hopefully, if the situation ever stabilizes there, our fighting men and women might be able to relax a little and possibly enjoy a brew or two in a pacified downtown Baghdad.

   Like the Colonel said during the Fox News interview, “I think we’d kill for a cold beer!”

   Now that I think about it, I don’t think he was kidding.

   In the meantime, if you’d like to help put a cold beer into the hands of our troops in Iraq or elsewhere, Six Packs For Soldiers might be the answer. According to the site, if you send them “…a photo of yourself toasting the troops with a beer (or non-alcoholic alternative, if you prefer)…we will deliver one real beer to a soldier (thanks to our sponsors for springing for it).”
   I don’t know anything about the site so do your own due diligence. It would be nice, perhaps, if a craft brewery or two made contact with them.
 Brewers, if they’re on the up-and-up and you’re willing to help them out, contact me and I’ll write the story.
   Everybody, including a thirsty G.I. or two, can win here.



German Brewery Donates Beer to Hampton Roads-based Ships
Story Number: NNS031001-09
Release Date: 10/1/2003 3:16:00 PM

By Journalist 3rd Class (SW) C. Grant Johnson, Commander U.S. Atlantic Fleet Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) — German brewer Spaten donated 600 cases of its namesake lager to the U.S. Navy Sept. 3, to thank U.S. Sailors and Marines who deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In a brief ceremony on the loading docks of the Fleet Technical Support Center Atlantic, USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Commanding Officer, Capt. Terence McKnight, accepted the beer on behalf of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Louis Sieb, president of Spaten North America, Spaten’s U.S. distributor, was on hand to present the gift to McKnight and some very appreciative Sailors.

“After what our servicemen and women did for us,” Sieb said, “now it’s time to do for them.”

Spaten, one of Germany’s oldest and most respected brewers, donated a total of 2,400 cases of beer to the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines at the request of Sieb. The Navy’s share was issued to Sailors that served on Hampton Roads-based ships and submarines deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I just said ‘you know what, why don’t we donate some product to our [servicemembers].’ I talked to the brewery and they gave their support,” said Sieb.

“I did this from my heart,” he said. “The Navy’s done an excellent job. They’ve done just splendidly.”

As happy as the company was to give it, it was the Sailors at the event that looked more excited.

“It’s really nice of them to do this,” said USS Bataan (LHD 5) Sailor, Electrician’s Mate 1st Class Gordon Hemphill. “It’s appreciated.”

“I think it’s great,” said Chief Fire Control Technician Donald Bennet from USS Montpelier (SSN 765). We’re going to use it for an awards party for the crew.”

The beer is just the latest gift from a public that has been all too happy to donate to American troops overseas.

“When we were deployed, it was unbelievable,” said McKnight. “We received 47 pallets of Girl Scout cookies. Forty-seven pallets! We got skittles, shoeboxes full of toiletries and CDs, boxes and boxes of letters and emails. The American public has been very generous.”



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Impossible Oktoberfest Pie

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 28, 2007

oktoberfest-girl1.jpgOK. So I stole this recipe from another site and it’s not that close to Oktoberfest (actually the Munich festival opens on September 22). Still looks like something worth trying now—work out the bugs, that sort of thing—before you make this for your next Oktoberfest party.

1/2 lb. fully cooked bratwurst (about 3), cut into 3/4″ pieces
1-1/3 cups drained sauerkraut (from 14 oz .can)
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 cup Original Bisquick® mix
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup regular or nonalcoholic beer (God forbid! Use REAL beer. I don’t know maybe an OKTOBERFEST BEER?)
2 eggs

Heat oven to 400° F. Spray 9″ glass pie plate with cooking spray. Sprinkle bratwurst, sauerkraut and cheese in pie plate.

In small bowl, stir remaining ingredients until blended. Pour into pie plate.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Makes: 6 servings.

Nutrition Information:
Per serving =  Calories 300 (Calories from Fat 180), Total Fat 20 g
(Sat Fat 9 g, Trans Fat 1g), Cholesterol 110 mg, Sodium 980 mg,
Total Carbs 15 g (Dietary Fiber 2 g, Sugars 4 g), Protein 14 g.

Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Starch, 1-1/2 High-Fat Meat.

Like you really care!

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WTTW Channel 11 After Action Report

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 27, 2007


Imagine you’re in a nice-sized conference room that overlooks the “Chicago Tonight” studio at 5400 North St. Louis in Chicago. I mean you can actually watch the entire 3-ring circus that goes into making a one-hour television program which is a mix of live interviews, punctuated with off-site video segments. And if you’re too lazy to get up and really observe the live production, you can sit at a nice-sized conference table and instead, watch a big (60″ I’m guessing) HDTV of the program—this way, seamlessly—as live melds with tape.

But the early highlight of the night was sitting at the conference table and discussing Harry Potter with Cook County Board President Todd Stroger (and some of his coat-holders) and Cook County States Attorney Dick Devine. We’re talking “Twilight Zone,” out-of-body-experience, late-60s-flashback sort of moments here.

After Devine and Stroger left and eventually went verbally dueling on camera, with Elizabeth Bracken as moderator, I had a wonderful conversation with a young guy whose name I’ve already forgotten—part of Stroger’s group—about beer & booze. Since I’m the (take your pick) “beer guy,” “beer man,” “beer historian,” “beer blah, blah, blah,” the nomenclature even makes politicians want to talk about their times with a bottle in their hand. I felt like a parish priest and the confessional booth door was open…

After Stroger and Devine finished their public dust-up (don’t ask; it’s Chicago, it’s Cook County, it’s politics) on camera, I eventually got tapped to stand outside the studio and received last minute instructions from the executive(?) producer. “No long-winded answers. Keep it short and sweet. Sit, shake hands with Phil (Ponce), always look at him; do not look at the monitor. When the interview is over, stay seated until I say “CUT!,” thank Phil and then get up and leave.”

So wth a 4-minute lull as some video rolled for another segment, I sat with Phil while he gathered his notes, we made some chit-chat (He said he enjoyed “Beer: A History of Beer & Brewing” (“I can tell you enjoyed writing the book.”), and his last words were, “Let’s just have fun with this!” And we were live…

I think it was a 7-minute segment, and of course, I had no control over the questions. A segment producer and I did talk in general terms about subject matter and I gave them everything I graciously received from Jonathan Cutler from Piece, Pete Crowley from Rock Bottom, Tim Lane from Goose Island/Clybourn, Matt van Wyk (rhymes with bike) from Flossmoor Station and Nick Floyd from Three Floyds in Munster, IN. Add some tidbits about Two Brothers in Warrenville, IL, wait for Phil Ponce to sort it all out and ask me some questions, and I probably got to use 2% of the info everyone sent me.

That’s ShowBiz.

Anyway, as far as the producers are concerned, it all worked out so well that they want me to come back in the fall and do a “Fall Beer Review.”

I’m ready. So if you’re from a local brewery and want to get a mention (no promises, as you’ve already seen), think of me. Send me your info and fall line-up of beer samples as soon as they become available and I’ll try to do something promotional with the time I have—when I get “the call.” 

One dose of this media adventure and another dose switching off as part of four rotating columnists in the print and online versions of FoodFare in The Times of Northwest Indiana, and things are finally looking good for a regularly-scheduled outlet for local beer news. Other glitterati as columnists for The Times food section will include Michael Foley, formerly of the Printer’s Row restaurants, Gale Gand, executive pastry chef extraordinaire and Food Network contributor, and Alpana Singh of Chicago’s WTTW, Channel 11 “Check Please!” Good company, but no idea how I got mixed in with this all-star crew.                                                                                                                                                                       

“Mr. DeMille; I’m ready for my close up.”



Posted in Appearances, Beer & Food In The News | 1 Comment »

Is A Blue Moon Light Arising?

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 27, 2007

bm_logo.gifWith the success of the Blue Moon line of beers, quietly brewed by Coors, seems the Colorado brewery might be coming up with a low-calorie/carbohydrate version of these very popular beers. The brewer last month filed trademark applications for “Pale Moon” and “Pale Moon Light.”

More here

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See Me Tonight On Channel 11, WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” Program

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 25, 2007

beer-snob-hdr.jpgbonvivant.jpgJust received another call confirming I’ll be on Channel 11, at 7 P.M., talking about Chicago’s ONLY brewery, our meager assortment of brewpubs, and hopefully, a few of the suburb locations.

More to follow…



“Once I got passed the ‘barnyardy’ nose,
the tang of the slight drippings from the undertone
of the sweat from the farmer who made it, the putrid
smell of a 3 week old Belgian Shepard Dog who pissed
first and then died on the brew’s stale 3-year old hops,
and the cost-cutting attempt by the brewer to skimp by
using an obviously old yeast cake from his aging
wooden fermenter, I immediately placed an order
with for a crate of these
wonderful 22-ounce bombers!”

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Chicago’s Yeast Side After Action Report

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 25, 2007


Well, all I can say is that if you missed this 2.5 tour on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan…you missed a GREAT time! The weather could not have been more cooperative, the Berghoff beer never stopped flowing, they couldn’t shut me up, and the questions from the audience were abundant.

Thanks to Liz and Brianne from the Chicago History Museum, Sally from Glunz Distributors who handled the beer end of the cruise, and  Chicago Line Cruises for a memorable evening. If you missed this one, contact the CHM and ask about an upcoming possible second tour. I was told that we had well over 100 on board so that was very gratifying.



 Our ship, the Ft. Dearborn



Left picture: L to R…Brianne (CHM), Sally (Berghoff/Glunz), Liz (CHM), Me. 


Right picture: Sally fielding a question from the audience. 


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Exploring Chicago’s Yeast Side — Beer Tasting/Beer History Boat Tour

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 20, 2007

berghofffamousbock.jpgFor those of you who have been adding your names to my growing list of “People-Who-Want-To-Do-A-Chicago-Beer-History-Tour,” this might be just the thing to hold you over while we strive for a count of 35 or so participants for our customary 4.5 hour bus tour.                                                                                                                                                                                           

Working in conjunction with the Chicago History Museum, aka, the Chicago Historical Society, Chicago Line Cruises, and The Berghoff, Chicago Beer Tours (that’s me) will be conducting a 2.5 hour cruise on Lake Michigan while I talk about Chicago’s beer history—including The Berghoff—complete with a tasting of Berghoff beer.berghoffcoaster.jpg

This event is being run by the Chicago History Museum. If you have any questions, please contact them. I have nothing to do with ticket purchases. I do know this though…tickets are going fast. There’s talk of doing this tour once again in September.

Exploring Chicago’s Yeast Side: A History of Beer                               

Sunday, July 22; 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Before Milwaukee claimed the title of beer capital of the Midwest, there was Chicago. Discover the city’s golden age of brewing on this sunset tour complete with beer tastings provided by a Chicago staple, the Berghoff Brewery.

Tours meet at the Chicago Line Cruises dock at North Pier, 465 N. McClurg Court.

$45; $40 members.


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The End of Homebrewing

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 19, 2007

schlitzmaltex.jpgInteresting that almost every homebrewer can tell you when homebrewing was once again legalized. Through the efforts of Senator Alan Cranston from California, President Jimmy Carter signed a bill in 1978 that brought legal status to homebrewing in 1979; but most homebrewers are unaware of the particulars that ended homebrewing during Prohibition. In actuality, it was not homebrewing per se that was criminalized, it was the way that malt syrup (extract) could be labeled and advertised that was altered…

From Beer & Food: An American History by Bob Skilnik;

   By 1927, the malt extract industry found itself under increased pressure from Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Lincoln C. Andrews, who decided to take on the industry for what he believed were abuses being practiced by the thousands of Malt-and-Hop shops throughout the country. Andrews took particular umbrage with “…Malt-and-Hops shops who display in their show windows together with Malt Syrup, complete paraphernalia for making a home beverage.” Feeling the political heat, the malt syrup trade association set up eight self-governing regulations to police the sale of their products and passed these on to the Prohibition Department for its approval. This acquiescence by the malt syrup industry ended the ambiguous legal status of homebrewing until President Jimmy Carter signed a bill into law in 1978 that firmly legalized the practice in early 1979. The regulations for the sale and advertising of malt syrup were as follows:

Pertaining to the sale of Malt Syr­up adopted by the National Trade Associations and now OK’d by the Prohibition Department.Under the provisions of Section 18, Title II of the Volstead Act:

(a) The possession or distribution of any formula, direction or recipe for the manufacture of intoxicating liquor is prohibited;

(b) The sale of any substance, ad­vertised, designed or intended for use in the manufacture of intoxicating liquor is prohibited. The question of whether or not a product is being sold for use in the manufacture of intoxicating liquor is determined largely, if not entirely, from the labels appearing upon the product and the advertising used in connection with its sale. If from such labels or advertising, it is apparent that it is the intention of the seller that the product shall be used in the manufacture of intoxi­cating liquor, then its sale becomes a violation of the section above quoted regardless of whether the product is actually used in the manufacture of intoxicating liquor or not. The assembling and sale of malt syrup, hops and gelatin in one pack­age has been condemned by the Treas­ury Department in that it tends to establish the intent of the seller that the product be used in the manufac­ture of prohibited beverages, and the sale of such composite package must be stopped immediately. The advertising, sale or gift of yeast, corn sugar or gelatin in con­nection with the sale of malt syrup tends to establish the purpose for which the product is being sold and such sale ~ advertising or gift must be discontinued immediately. So that there may be no inference gathered from the labels or adver­tising that the product is being sold for anything except food purposes, we make the following recommenda­tions in regard to the labels and ad­vertising used in connection with the sale of malt syrup:

1st: Labels and advertising should contain no language that in any man­ner refers to beverages or that the product may be used in the manufac­ture of a prohibited beverage;

2nd: Labels and advertising should contain no cuts, figures or designs that by inference or otherwise con­vey the idea that the product is in­tended for or may be used in the man­ufacture of a prohibited beverage; 3rd: All names formerly used in connection with the sale of intoxicat­ing beverages, such as “Bock” “Stout” “Porter” must be eliminated from la­bels and advertising;4th: All names which embrace or include the word “brew” (whether in the English, German or any other language) or which convey the idea, either directly or indirectly, that the product is intended for brewing pur­poses, must be eliminated from labels and advertising;5th: All cuts of stems, mugs, brew­eries, or brewery equipment, must be eliminated from all labels and adver­tising;6th: Any and all language, which either directly or indirectly conveys the idea that the product may be us­ed in the manufacture of a prohibi­ted beverage must be stricken from labels and advertising;7th: All such expressions as “no boil” “no fuss” “no muss’s” “no odor” “ready for use” must be eliminated from all labels and advertising.8th: All warnings appearing on la­bels or in advertising wherein the purchaser is warned against the use of the product in the manufacture of an intoxicating beverage must be stricken there from.

Cooking With Malt Extract  

   Since the legal restrictions, written by the malt industry and approved by the federal government, left open a gaping loophole that still allowed the manufacture and sale of malt extract for “food purposes,” the government was able to turn their heads from the real purpose of malt syrup while the manufacture of malt extract continued. But this move also gave the malt syrup trade association, aka, the brewers, a second chance to get their product not only back into American households, but into their kitchens too. Knowingly or not, the introduction of malt syrup into food recipes by the deposed breweries established the first step for why there’s probably a beer or two in your refrigerator right now.    

   The malt syrup ruling was finalized in 1927, but already the taste for Prohibition was waning. The $50 million yearly cost for the unsuccessful efforts to stop bootlegging was accumulating, with no visible returns. Hundreds of millions of dollars of lost tax revenue from the drink trade were affecting cities, states, and the federal government. Al Smith, who had narrowly missed his second push for the 1924 Democratic Party nomination for president, was a known “wet” advocate. In 1927, Smith’s third push for the party’s nomination the following year was a given. His populist position on the repeal of National Prohibition was a reflection of a growing distain by the American public of the “Noble Experiment.” If Repeal could be seen in the horizon, this time the brewing industry would need to be ready to get beer back into the house again—and keep it there.   

   In 1928, the Jos. Schlitz Beverage Company published Schlitz Malt Syrup in the Home, a thirty-two-page pamphlet of food recipes using malt syrup that also managed to boast of the patriotic role that malt syrup had assumed during the sugar-rationing days of World War I. Other malt syrup firms followed with their own recipe renditions. The product was ignored as a kitchen aid in the earliest days of Prohibition, utilized instead for homebrewing after the reality of no legal beer had set in. To further the argument that the syrup was indeed an item for cooking, the booklet came with the endorsement of Jessie De Both, a “nationally known dietician” and Director and General Manager of De Both Home Makers’ Schools. De Both attested that “I have reviewed the recipes appearing in this booklet, and found them correct as to volume and proportions. I have also found that by including Schlitz Malt Syrup in these food combinations, the flavor and nutritive value is enhanced considerably.” Schlitz was still ascribing to the old nutritional benefit position, even listing its malt syrup’s caloric value of ninety per ounce, adding that “This is equivalent to 1 oz. of honey, or 1 ¼ oz. of wheat bread, or 1 ¼ oz. of sirloin steak, or 5 oz. of whole milk.”   

   By 1929, there still seemed to be some confusion as to the legitimacy of malt syrup, even if purportedly used solely for home cooking purposes. The Best Malt Products Company of Chicago, formerly the Best Brewing Company, made note of the public’s supposed confusion, especially concerning the use of hopped malt syrup, in a small fold-out food recipe pamphlet that the company published that year. “The government says that ‘no action prohibiting the sale of Hop-Flavored Malt Syrup is being contemplated,’” the pamphlet assured readers on its back page.

    Since 1927, when the regulations of how malt syrup could be labeled and advertised were instituted, it appears that the malt syrup industry itself was still unsure as to how to proceed. The booklet noted that the two-year span between implementation of the regulations and the publishing of the recipes “…was probably the most unstable period in the history of the malt syrup industry…” The fact that Best Malt Products was also the largest private-label manufacturer of malt syrup for wholesalers and retailers probably prompted the company’s full-page explanation of the legality of continued sales of malt syrup.

    One has to question, however, whether or not the malt industry was sincere in providing food recipes using their products to keep malt syrup sales up or simply to have provided them as a subterfuge while their products continued to make its way into homebrewing vessels.

    Gussie Busch of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch reportedly had his own idea of food recipes that used A-B’s malt syrups. “You could no more eat the malt syrup cookies. They were so bitter…,” he claimed years after Prohibition. Then why continue with such a culinary charade? “If you really want to know, we ended up as the biggest bootlegging supply house in the United States.”

COMING NEXT: Cooking With Malt Extracts

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Food Recipes of the Repeal Era and Beyond, Part I

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 17, 2007

Beer can be used in hundreds of recipes to add flavor, point up the savor of other ingredients, turn old dishes into new exciting adventures.
Beer and Brewing in America, 1948

With the return of legal beer, the brewery industry faced the question of a possible change in consumer attitudes toward beer and its relationship to competing intoxicants. “The new status of women as beverage-consumers,” warned distribution consultant Paul T. Cherington, at a meeting of brewery representatives in early 1934, “the glamour of illicit consumption for fifteen years, the growth of the cocktail and the hip-flask habits…are factors of real weight in the new status of beverages…”

With worries that consumers might have grown weary of beer during Prohibition, the brewing industry began its second push during the twentieth century to place beer into American homes—and keep it there. Looking at its past approaches in trying to make malt syrup a kitchen staple during National Prohibition, the revived brewing industry took a similar approach by publishing food recipe books, booklets, and pamphlets that featured beer, not malt syrups, as a food ingredient or as a food accompaniment.

Until hundreds of recipes could be devised and kitchen tested, the earliest brewery publications chose to feature suggestions for beer paired with food, and not surprisingly, the tried-and-true foods of the saloon free lunch era were dragged out again. Suggestions of beer with salty pretzels and potato chips were mingled with calls for dark breads, cheeses, sausages, smoked meats, sandwiches, oysters, pickled foods, and side dishes of coleslaw and potato salad.

One of the earliest examples of a publication that matched beer and food was “Here’s how!” ~ and what to serve with BEER, by the Theo. Hamm Brewing Company. This twenty-four-page booklet helped set the stage for not only why beer should be served with beer-friendly foods, but also gave the hows. It’s amusing today to read through the detailed, but perhaps clichéd, suggestions from 1934 for preparing a “Lager Lunch,” a “Buffet Beer Supper,” a “Sunday Night Beer Supper,” or a “Swedish Ale Party Menu,” until one realizes that having beer in the home at the time, pairing it with food, and using these elements as an important part of home entertainment, was not clichéd at all. The notion of holding a home “beer party” was virgin territory, and because of this, the Hamm’s publication holds significance as it detailed the food and entertainment guidelines of Christine Frederick, a former household editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal. In setting up a “Beer Party Table,” for instance, Mrs. Frederick, also author of Household Engineering, advised using this festive decor:

Table cloths with bright, gay stripes, or the attractive “peasant” cloths with matching napkins…[and] tankards, pitchers and mugs…while on a small round or “beer-barrel” table, two narrow runners of crash toweling, placed crosswise, give a smart effect.

With the kind of care that contemporary beer geeks faithfully practice, the home economist added tips on how to serve beer, setting up rituals and practices that still hold true today.

Remove the cap from the bottle quickly and pour beer slowly against the side of the tilted glass. Beer should always be well chilled, but not too cold. Beer that is too icy loses the delicate flavor and life that makes it the most popular drink of today. Never under any circumstances put ice or ice cubes in beer. The water from the melting ice dilutes the beer and makes it unpalatable and flat…If you chill your beer in an automatic refrigerator, do not place bottles in the coldest compartment. A few hours in the bottom of the refrigerator will bring the beer to the right temperature.

Mrs. Frederick, however, allowing her “household management” skills to overshadow her skill with beer, gave the budding beer party hostess one more serving tip that beer cookbook authors have thankfully chosen to ignore:

Never offer any…dessert type of dish. Candies are “out” also! Cakes are not suitable either…

A two-page centerfold advertisement in a 1939 edition of Liberty, a popular general interest magazine, featured Schlitz beer, “with that famous flavor,” surrounded by “Favorite Recipes of famous Amateur Chefs.” The recipes included a corned beef hash dish put together by legendary cartoonist Rube Goldberg, washed down, of course, with Schlitz since its “fresh, clean aftertaste makes good food seem better.” Six years after Repeal, the brewing industry was still taking the tentative step of simply pairing beer with food rather than using beer as a recipe ingredient in its advertising. The same magazine also carried a full-page ad from the recently founded United Brewers Industrial Foundation (U.B.I.F.) that trumpeted the fact that the brewing industry had contributed over $400 million in taxes in 1938 to various government agencies, claiming that this amount of money could theoretically cover the entire cost of President F.D.R.’s Civilian Conservation Corps. Beer not only had revenue-enhancing features, it had a sense of patriotism behind it too.


While the ad showed the importance of the kind of tax money the brewing industry now generated, it was also indicative of the industry’s dark fear that Prohibition could return. The additional claim in the ad of the brewers’ self-regulation of “law-violating beer outlets,” furthered the notion that the beer industry realized it still had a lot of work to do to convince all Americans that beer was assuredly an asset, and not a detriment, to American society.

More info on Beer & Food: An American History by Bob Skilnik

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer History, Beer In Food, Books & Beer, Cooking With Beer | 6 Comments »

Nutritional Info For Carlo Rossi Sangria

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 16, 2007



Coming Soon!

Does My BUTT Look BIG In This BEER?

Carlo Rossi Sangria (Spanada)             5 ounces             11.50  carbs     125  calories        10% abv

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The Ultimate Tailgater And Bob Skilnik Talk Beer & Food

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 12, 2007

thmb_chef_a_ep23_bookcover.jpgthmb_chef_a_ep23_headshot.jpgA few weeks ago, I did a podcast with Stephen Linn-The Ultimate Tailgater. I don’t know what’s going on, but lately I’ve been hooking up with some celebrity cooks and chefs. I’m honored that I’m sharing space with Stephen Raichlen, BBQ cookbook author and TV host of BBQ University (sign-up for his newsletter at his site), Kevin Roberts, radio’s “Food Dude” and author of Munchies, and Rocky Fino who penned Will Cook for Sex. (Maybe I should go back to playing the Illinois Lotto again, too!)

Speaking of celebrities, I’ll be making a formal announcement soon about my columnist gig with the Times newspaper. I’ll be a member of a team of some big name food heavyweights, which still has me scratching my head as to how this all happened. Stay tuned for more details!

But back to The Ultimate Tailgater podcast…Stephen Linn talks about one of the most popular ingredients to most any tailgate party – the beer – with Bob Skilnik, author of Beer & Food. Bob talks about the history of beer in and with food, including some great recipes and cooking tips. Click on Episode #23 in the “Browse Audio-by Episode” drop down box or “Browse Audio-by Guest Name”.

You’ll also find a link to some beer/food recipes I contributed for The Ultimate Tailgater website.

Posted in Appearances, Plugs, Podcasts | Leave a Comment »

New Illinois/Michiana Beer Writer

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 8, 2007

The Times of Northwest Indiana has offered me the position of beer writer for their paper.

As some of you know, I’ve been freelancing beer-themed articles for the Chicago Tribune since 1997, but they consider their readers more wanting of a regularly scheduled wine critic. They won’t budge on hiring a beer columnist.

All I can say is “Thank the gods for the Times and their willingness to acknowledge the importance and nurturing of readers who want to read about beer!”

I’m hoping that local readers will be willing and able to feed me info about beer and brewing activities in the paper’s area of coverage. From going over their print and online statistics, the paper’s actually GROWING (unlike so many MSM papers), so I’d like to make my column as relevant and informative as possible for their expanding readership. It looks like their coverage is the northeast portion of Illinois and northwest Indiana, down to Newton and Jasper counties, and over to the edges of Michigan City or so. It’s the 2nd largest newspaper in Indiana, with a daily circulation of 82,709 and a Sunday one of 89,942.

If you’re from the area and know of any brewpubs, breweries, homebrew clubs, beer bars with good selections, and even progressive beer distributors and liquor stores that I can use for local info, I’d appreciate the help. This is a chance for Illinois/Michiana beer lovers to finally have a local media outlet, with a paper willing to back the effort. I’m excited about this opportunity.


Bob Skilnik

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Conflict Over Historic Brewery Comes To A Head

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 8, 2007

Conflict over historic brewery comes to a head: Allentown set to prosecute owner over Neuweiler building’s poor condition.

Released : Sunday, July 08, 2007 4:00 AMJul. 8–Since rolling out its last barrel nearly four decades ago, the Neuweiler Brewery has sat mostly empty, fading from its architectural glory and serving as a symbol of Allentown’s failure to capitalize on its waterfront.

The brewery on N. Front Street went bankrupt in 1968. Since then, it has been the subject of a lawsuit, site of a chemical spill and accumulator of unpaid taxes. It also has joined the National Register of Historic Places.

Yet, for many people, the brewery — even with its ornamental brick facade, Greek granite portico and copper cupola — simply has become part of the backdrop at the edge of downtown. For those living in the neighborhood, where many people don’t stay long, it’s always been just another empty building.

But like other decaying buildings in Allentown and along other city waterfronts, this one finally is getting more attention.

Tired of the brewery’s New Jersey owner, Stuart Kellner, ignoring demands to shore up the site, city officials are preparing to prosecute him under state building code law, a step up from city ordinances.

Tired of waiting for Kellner to make repairs to keep passers-by safe, the city also is preparing to fix the brewery on its own. The Allentown Redevelopment Authority is moving toward condemning it, as it did with the Colonial Theater on Hamilton Street, to secure it and seek a redeveloper.


Posted in Beer History, Breweries | Leave a Comment »

Sam Adams Boston Baked Beans

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 8, 2007

July Is National Baked Bean Month

baked-beans.jpgSamuel Adams Boston Lagered Baked Beans

2 pounds dried navy beans
2 bottles (24 ounces) Samuel Adams Boston Lager
¼ oil or bacon drippings (be authentic here and use the drippings)
3 onions, coarsely diced
1/3 cup dried yellow mustard powder
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup pure maple syrup (or an additional cup brown sugar)
1 tablespoon paprika
2 small smoked pork shanks, split or 1 pound lean bacon
Salt to taste 

In a large pan, soak the beans overnight with cold water. Drain the beans and cover with fresh water and 1 bottle of Samuel Adams Boston Lager and salt. Bring the beans to a boil, then simmer slowly for 1 hour or until the beans are tender. Place the beans in a large, ovenproof pan or Dutch oven along with the liquid they simmered in.

In a small fry-pan, heat the oil on medium heat and add the onions. Cook until they are a deep, golden caramel color, and then add to the beans. Mix the remaining ingredients, except the pork, into the beans. The pork shanks should be pressed down into the beans.

Place the pan, uncovered, in a preheated 300º F. oven and bake for 3 hours. Add the additional bottle of Sam Adams Lager plus enough water to just cover the beans, seasoning as needed. Allow the beans to continue cooking, uncovered, without adding additional liquid until they are browned on top and have cooked to the desired consistency, approximately 3 hours.

When cooked, serve as is or shred the meat from the pork shank and stir into the beans.

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer In Food, Cooking With Beer, Food That Demands To Be Paired With Beer | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Beer Nutritional Info For Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 5, 2007

312_left.jpg                         Goose Island      312 Urban Wheat     12 oz        10.50 carbs    135 calories       4.20 abv

      Get More Goose Island Beers With Their Nutritional Values Here

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Red, White and Blue Potato Salad With Lager Beer Dressing For July 4

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 4, 2007


12  Servings

2 bottles (12 oz each)  Lager beer
4 cloves garlic, smashed with side of knife
4 pounds mixed baby red, white and blue potatoes, quartered
1 Tablespoon plus 1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 Tablespoon honey mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
1/2 cup canned sweet corn kernels
1/3 cup scallions, sliced
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

In large pot with colander inset, combine beer and garlic cloves. Bring Lager beer to a boil over medium-high heat. Insert colander or steam basket; place potato quarters over simmering beer. Cover tightly with lid. Steam potatoes 20 to 24 minutes, until just tender when pierced with fork. Transfer potatoes to large bowl to cool. Pour the beer from pot into a glass measure, discard garlic and reserve beer. There should be about 1 cup.In small saucepan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add shallots and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes or until softened. Add reserved beer, vinegar and sugar; bring mixture to a boil. Boil 7 minutes or until reduced to about 2/3 cup. Pour mixture into a blender or food processor. Add honey mustard, salt and pepper. With blender or food processor on low, slowly pour in remaining 1/3 cup canola oil until dressing is emulsified.Pour dressing over potatoes; add egg pieces, corn kernels, scallions and bacon. Toss well to coat. Serve potato salad warm or refrigerate up to 2 days before serving. Top with parsley when ready to serve. (If dressing is made ahead, bring to room temperature before serving.)

Courtesy of The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA)     Alexandra, Virginia

The N.B.W.A.was founded in 1938 as a trade association for the nation’s beer distributors. It also, however, has assumed an educational role with the public, bringing attention to the problems of alcohol abuse, drunk driving, and underage purchasing and consumption of beer. The site also provides plenty of food recipes using beer. Make sure to stop by their site for recipes, beer terms, and further information on promoting responsibility while enjoying a beer or two.

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer In Food, Food That Demands To Be Paired With Beer | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »