Beer (& More) In Food

Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!

Archive for November, 2007

Hear Me In Cleveland, Tuesday, December 4 On WTAM 1100 AM News Radio

Posted by Bob Skilnik on November 28, 2007

wtamlogo.jpgI’ll be on the Bill Wills morning radio program on Cleveland’s News Radio WTAM 1100 AM this coming Tuesday, December 4 talking about my favorite subject, BEER and my latest book, Beer & Food: An American History. WTAM is the home of the Cleveland Indians and the Cavs.

As a news/talk format, it also carries the syndicated talk show hosted by Rush Limbaugh.

It’s also Cleveland’s most powerful AM station and during the day, its signal can be heard throughout most of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about! Stop by and have a listen. I’m not sure what time since we’re taping Monday.

Posted in Appearances | 3 Comments »

Beer, Plymouth Rock & The Pilgrims—The Real Story

Posted by Bob Skilnik on November 14, 2007

beerandflag.gifOne of the interesting things I’ve learned while donning the cloak of an author is
my love of research. Unfortunately, falling under the spell of a good story or three
that has ever so slightly the remotest connection to your main topic can lead to a
manuscript that most publishers will take a scalpel to. The economics of getting
published in today’s market often means writing a lean story, just enough to keep
the reader interested, but not so many pages as to bring down an entire forest for
an 800-page opus.
While working on Beer & Food: An American History, I found so
many interesting and often odd ball stories to tell, ones that might have peaked
the interests of beer geeks, foodies, and even the weekend historian.
But publishing,
dear readers, is a business
, so many stories never made the aftermath
of the editorial cut.

Since the release of my seventh book, I’ve posted a few of these cutting room floor
stories that have rubbed against the grain of some popular bits of American beer folklore.
Not surprising to me, I’ve been chastised by a number of critics who just
know I was
wrong when I explained that
Ben Franklin never had an infatuation with beer as he did with wine.
I guess living in France for so many years can do that to people, even old Ben.

“I doubt the veracity of Bob’s research,” said one poster on another beer blog,
even while admitting that he had no evidence to contradict my story of Franklin’s
love of wine, not beer. Even corroborating evidence supported by a computer word
search by the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary that proved that Ben was writing to
his friend, Andre Morellet about wine (
“Behold the rain which descends from heaven
upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a
constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”
) and NOT beer, was

“He’s pushing a new book, so what do you expect?” chimed another armchair

I went a few rounds with fellow bloggers and the Brewers Association in April, 2007
about the true date of National Prohibition on December 5, 1933. Despite the fact
that 36 states had to vote on the repeal of the 18th Amendment—the first time
that U.S voters ever had a hand in the institution of a new amendment to the
Constitution, voting for the 21st
which nullified the congressionally-originated 18th
too many weekend historians insisted that April 7, 1933 was the true
end of Prohibition.
April 7 allowed those states that wanted to, to ignore the
Volstead Act and bring back “light wines” and beers with an alcohol by volume of
no more than 3.2%. It did not bring back hard spirits, full-bodied wines, or even
bock beers, but to this day, there are some who insist that April 7, 1933 was the
end of Prohibition. Of course, if that was so, what was the whole purpose of the 21st

It’s a bitch when facts get in the way of a good argument, especially concerning
beer and all its folklore.

So I was a bit hesitant to write about another popular bit of U.S. beer folklore—beginning
with the silly notion that the “Pilgrims” chose to land at Plymouth Rock because they
had run out of beer.



Posted in Beer & Food In The News, Beer History, Food History | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Beer Writer Bill Brand And Author Bob Skilnik Talk Pumpkin Brews

Posted by Bob Skilnik on November 8, 2007

pumpkin-vomit.jpgI recently received, but missed a call from William (Bill) Brand, a newspaper reporter who happens to also sideline as a beer writer for the Oakland Tribune/Bay Area News Group/Media News Group and the food & drink friendly Contra Costa Times. It’s not often you run across a true newspaper reporter who can switch gears from reporting on a blazing local fire to a light-hearted piece about a fire-brewed beer. Unlike a lot of beer writers, Bill has put his time in the trenches out in the field, but after speaking to him, you soon can tell that he uses this same kind of dedication that he exhibits when penning an article about his favorite adult beverage—beer—as he does when reporting on a blazing inferno or an unfortunate murder in the city.

I found that out when I returned his call for some requested comments about a story he was working on about Pumpkin Ale, a perennial harvest time beer that has gone on from a novelty brew to one that has become a true seasonal. “Bob, I’ve got to call you back while I knock out this article about a nearby fire,” he said, and quickly hung-up the phone.

About an hour later, with the fire struck and the news article about the blaze sent to his editor, we had a nice chat about Pumpkin Ale and its growing popularity, a drink that has limited time constraints in stores, usually wrapping up appearances in 50-case aisle displays in liquor stores about the same time that the last stale pieces of Halloween candy can still be found in the kid’s candy bowl (typically buried under crumbled wrappings). But unlike post-Halloween candy that’s already showing signs of age, a smart beer drinker can usually find a good and still-fresh supply of post-holiday Pumpkin beer products that have been discounted to clear them out, making them available for stockpiling, at least through Thanksgiving and even into Christmas—if you’re lucky. A good bottle of Pumpkin Ale to wash down a slice of still-warm pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread, topped with a too genrous dollop of whipped cream, is a taste treat that can brighten up any holiday meal.

As Bill reports in his article, pumpkin beer has gotten so popular in the last few years that the Great American Beer Festival in Denver has even added a pumpkin beer subcategory for the first time. “There were 15 entries,” Brewers Association’s Julia Herz says. And Dick Cantwell’s Great Pumpkin won a second place silver medal, edged out only by a beer made with berries. It’s a brave new beery world these days.

Having discussed the problems that colonists had in securing brewing fermentables in my latest book, Beer & Food: An American History, Brand wanted my take on the origins of a gourd-ish beer and and any clues to the style’s history.

“The idea of pumpkin beer makes beer historian Bob Skilnik, author of ‘Beer & Food: An American History,’ snicker — well, almost. He admits he likes pumpkin beers; always buys them each fall. But pumpkin beer, while a true piece of Americana cuisine, was not exactly lofty stuff in colonial times.

Truth is, limited shipments of quality malted barley to make beer had to be imported from England to the colonies, Skilnik says. It was hard to obtain and expensive, so colonists made do with what they had — and that included indigenous pumpkins and corn. ‘The Indians taught the earliest colonists how to grow pumpkins along with corn. The vines grew up the corn stocks; it was an efficient use of space.’ ”

But as pointed out in the book, pumpkin was just one of the crazy ingredients that early brewers used to make suds. Artichoke beer anyone?

“So when it came time to brew beer, everything fermentable was tossed into the brew kettle: Both corn and pumpkins went in, along with persimmons and Jerusalem artichokes, Skilnik said. “When I see everyone replicating the beers of the past, I kind of laugh. What most people don’t know is there was some pretty foul stuff passing for beer in colonial America.”

You can read Bill’s complete article here  and his blog here and read more about Beer & Food: An American History here. And keep your eyes out for discounted 6-packs of pumpkin beer. I’m thinking pumpkin creme brulee with a well-spiced and cellar temperature pumpkin beer on the side.

Posted in Beer & Food In The News, Beer History, Beer Styles | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Beer after sport ‘is good for the body’

Posted by Bob Skilnik on November 6, 2007

Well, first it was beer helping build muscle tone. Now it’s good for fluid retention.                                                              beckerbeerbroad.jpg

Prof Garzon asked a group of students to do strenuous exercise in temperatures of around 40ºC (104ºF). Half were given a pint of beer, while the others received the same volume of water.

Prof Garzon, who announced the results at a press conference in Granada beneath a banner declaring “Beer, Sport, Health”, said the hydration effect in those who drank beer was “slightly better”.

“[Professor Manuel Garzon, of Granada’s medical faculty] believes the carbon dioxide in beer helps quench the thirst more quickly, while beer’s carbohydrates replace calories lost during physical exertion.

“Based on the studies, the researchers have recommended moderate consumption of beer – 500 ml a day for men or 250 ml for women – as part of an athlete’s diet.”

Juan Antonio Corbalan, a cardiologist who worked formerly with Real Madrid football players and Spain’s national basketball team, said beer had the perfect profile for re-hydration after sport.

He added that he had long recommended barley drinks to professional sportsmen after exercise.

Now no ones’ suggesting slamming down a cold sixer after running a marathon (Moderation, Not Deprivation!), but ole Prof Garzon is not without support.

“If you are dehydrated to start with following exercise, a beer, as opposed to a spirit, probably does not have a high enough concentration of alcohol to induce a diuretic effect,” says Dr James Betts, an expert on nutrition and metabolism at Bath University.

Gotta love them Brits and whoever that pretty young thing is to the right!

And don’t forget “Beer and Building Body Tone!”


Posted in Beer & Food In The News, Beer And Calories, Beer And Carbohydrates, Beer Nutritional Info | 2 Comments »