Beer (& More) In Food

Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!

Archive for April, 2008

Reason 101 Why 90% Of American Beer Drinkers Don’t Drink Craft Beer

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 24, 2008

Vaune Dillmann thought the wording on his bottle caps was just a clever play on the name of the Northern California town where he brews his beer – Weed.

Federal alcohol regulators thought differently. They have ordered Dillmann to stop selling beer bottles with caps that say “Try Legal Weed.”

While reviewing the proposed label for Dillmann’s latest beer, Lemurian Lager, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau said the message on the caps he has been using for his five current beers amounts to a drug reference.

In a letter explaining its decision, the agency, which regulates the brewing industry, said the wording could “mislead consumers about the characteristics of the alcoholic beverage.”

Dillmann scoffs at the notion that his label has anything to do with smoking pot.

“I’ve never tried marijuana in my life,” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I don’t advocate that. It’s just our town’s name.”
This guy’s a moron. If this brewer doesn’t know how the old ABT, now TTB treats labels and advertising that blatently says or insinuates anything doing with “high-strength,” extra-kick,” claims of nutritional benefits, so-called vulgarities or “Try Legal Weed,” then I suggest he goes back and looks at the TTB guidelines on labeling and advertising material or go back through some old brewing industry trade journals. He’s either stupid or looking for trouble/publicity. This is a poor business decision, not some frat house prank.

This isn’t cute; it’s stupid. “I’ve never tried marijuana in my life.” Sure.
If I was an investor, I’d be pissed for this very poor business decision.



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Drinkz-N-Eatz-TV Soft Opening

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 21, 2008

I’ve decided to spin off a seperate HTML portal and blog of food and drink recipes using video and some podcasting too. As I get it up and running at full-speed, you’ll be able to enjoy a slew of video food recipes and listen to interviews with people in the drink and food trades.

You can go to UTube or other sites for this sort of thing, but if you do, you’ll also waste time wallowing through the junk out there to get to what you want. Drinkz-N-Eatz-TV makes it easier for the kitchen chef or the family bartender to watch and observe, and if so inclined, give any one of the posted recipes a shot at home.

In the next few months, I’ll be adding more of my own videos, along with the self-made smattering that’s now posted at There will be no editoralizing, just taped and recorded recipes that are fun to prepare and are spiked with enough beer, wine and booze to make these recipes fun and easy to prepare.

So I’m looking for your input. If you have a favorite recipe out on the Web, let me know where it is, and if I can use it for content, I’ll get it up on the site. If you’re a brewer, vintner, distiller, importer, distributor and on and on, and would like to add some low-cost Internet exposure to your products, drop me a line. All it takes is a sample of your product, some sales and promo material and whatever, and I’ll include your product in an upcoming food or drink video for shits and grins…that’s it. Of course, if you’d like to add a banner or text message, you can check out the “Sponsers” tab at Contact info is at the site and blog.

I’ll be heading to St. Louis on May 8 for the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival and hope to come back with a boatload of interviews and other interesting content to liven up the site. The seven participating brewers in this exciting event will include some smaller local breweries/brewpubs and Anheuser-Busch, so there will be a smattering of beers and much more for everyone. Stop by HERE for more info and a link for purchasing tickets. Say “Hi!” to me if you get there. I’ll be the big, balding (more like bald) guy pestering everybody for a video interview or a quote or two.

This is a “Soft Opening” for Drinkz-N-Eatz-TV, giving me a chance to find the bugs and work them out, and to start driving traffic to the site from Beer (& More) In Food and other sites I have up an running. Eventually I’ll formalize all of this when I feel comfortable with the level of content I have and know the concept is working…press releases and such. In the meantime, stop by  Drinkz-N-Eatz-TV and check it out.

Posted in Appearances, Beer & Food In The News, Beer In Food, Cooking With Beer, Plugs | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Is The New-Formula Schlitz Overpriced?

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 19, 2008

Not having yet seen nor tasted the “Old” Schlitz-formula beer, I still managed to call the pricing of this beer in an earlier post.

“I imagine it will be priced somewhere between a higher-priced craft beer and a great quality pseudo-craft beer like Blue Moon.”

And that seems to be a problem with its sales.  As one liquor store sales manger has noted, label owner Pabst has overpriced it.

Part of the problem, he said, is Pabst’s pricing. At $9.99 for a 12-pack and $5.99 for a six-pack, it’s more expensive than Budweiser, about the same as Michelob and almost as expensive as more upscale brews such as Samuel Adams. “It’s just overpriced,” he said.

And that’s a shame because you know damn well that the only other thing that could give Schlitz a push in sales would be a strong marketing and sales campaign. But this is the Pabst Brewing Co., whose sales luck with its flagship brand has been based on a non-existent ad and/or media campaign, relying instead, on nostalgia and a good mix of shallow-pocketed college kids who look at the “popular-priced (read: cheap)” beer as a God send. In the case of Schlitz, Pabst has decided to position it as an expensive “super-premium” priced beer…and still use no marketing and sales oomph behind the brand.

A few years ago, I organized 2 study groups for a marketing consultant group that was working for Pabst, trying to understand why Old Style sales were so sluggish in Chicago, where it had once ruled supreme. Old Style is another beer in the Pabst Brewing Co.’s portfolio. We came up with a couple of viable options, but many of them began with the opening phrase, “You have to throw more money at the brand,” and when anyone said this, the beer distributors in the group just sighed as their eyes rolled over.

There’s a hell of a lot of baggage behind the demise of Schlitz, detailed in my book, Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago. Like Old Style before it, Schlitz was Chicago’s #1 selling beer, ignoring Budweiser’s reign as the nation’s top-selling beer. Today, it’s just another beer, unless Pabst gets serious about Schlitz and either runs a pantsload of sales, positioning the beer, or starts running a viable and long-running ad campaign.

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Attn: Brewpubs or Breweries–Chicago Contractor Looking For You!

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 15, 2008

About once a year, I get an e-mail or telephone call from someone who wants to open up a brewpub or brewery in Chicago. They tell me they have all their ducks in a row…and a year or two later, nothing has happened. Some readers might recall the high hopes of a brewpub being built in the Beverly section of Chicago…and then nothing.

I’m now talking to a contractor who supposedly has ownership of a building on the Chicago register of historic buildings and additional empty land across the street. It’s on the South Side of Chicago, in Bridgeport. If you haven’t been to Bridgeport lately, the transformation has been amazing. Condos, a new business center, multi-million dollar houses…and Daley’s left, to boot. But it needs something to forever remove the stigma of being a a knuckle-dragging neighborhood of White Sox fans who hide in wait of unsuspecting Cubs fans during the annual CrossTown Classics, or whatever the hell they call the on-field clashing of the Sox vs. Cubs teams…and the subsequent stories of Cub fans being handed their heads for the trip back over Roosevelt Road.

Where was I? This guy owns a plumbing business, tells me he has the go-ahead of the local alderman, and is looking for a brewpub or brewery to work with to begin the anchoring of new businesses in the area. Like GI’s old situation, this building is located in a TIF area, so there’s a City of Chicago tax stimulus package involved. He’d rebuild the building interior to specifications if he had someone moving in and wants to build other retail shops across the street.

The old business district on 35th and Halsted has been rebuilt, there is new construction everywhere in the area, and as I remember Goose Island when it first opened, this area is much less life-threatening than GI’s neighborhood used to be. Compared to what the Halls built their business on, this area’s a paradise, a stone’s throw away from U.S. Cellular Field, I-55 and the Dan Ryan…15 minutes to The Loop.

Anyway, he’s talking about a multi-million project. He has continued to call me every 6 months or so and keeps me up-to-date on his progress. Just talked to him last Friday. Since the news came out on Monday about The Goose, and I spoke to him last Friday, it’s almost like fate has entered the arena.

Aside from the combined 26,000 sq ft on two levels, he figures the basement would add another 13,000. He’s pricing this at around $40 per sq ft or so and would adjust this for a long-term lease. What makes this nice is the fact that the the lessee could add input for whatever was needed before construction begins and not have to retro-fit around something. That and plenty of parking, a rare North Side thing. The alderman’s supposed to be a big supporter of the development. Construction begins in June.

You want a Chicago venue for Real Ale…with fracking parking to boot? Here it is, but first it needs a brewpub.

And I haven’t even talked about the development of the property across the street…

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Goose Island Nut Brown Ale-Braised Beef Ribs

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 14, 2008

Enjoy this while you can, even get out to the Clybourn location because it looks like this Goose Island location will close by the end of the year.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS                                                             

8 Beef short ribs
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup canola oil
4 large onions, diced
10 cloves garlic, 4 sliced and 6 whole
1/4 cup butter
4 bottles Goose Island Nut Brown Ale
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves

Season the short ribs generously with salt and pepper and lightly dust with flour. In a large sauté pan, warm the canola oil over medium high heat until it starts to smoke. Add the short ribs and reduce the heat slightly. Brown the ribs on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. After browning, transfer ribs to a large stew pot.

In a separate pan, sauté onions and sliced garlic in the butter until onions become translucent. Add the garlic and onions to the ribs. Add the beer and simmer uncovered over low heat until the beer is reduced by one third. Cover the ribs with stock and add the molasses and tomato paste, whole garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Simmer covered 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender. Shake the pot periodically to prevent sticking.

Transfer ribs to a serving dish and cover to retain heat. Skim excess fat from the broth, discard the herbs and pass liquid through a sieve. Return liquid to a saucepan on medium heat. Reduce until thickened and pour over ribs.

Nutrition facts per serving: 966 calories, 57 g fat, 17 g saturated fat, 138 mg cholesterol, 74 g carbohydrates, 41 g protein, 519 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

Julio Ambriz, kitchen manager, Goose Island Brewpub

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Leo Burnett’s “Drink Schlitz Or I’ll Kill You” Ad Campaign

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 10, 2008

In September of 1977, a group of Leo Burnett’s top officials met in their 10th floor conference room in the Prudential Building in Chicago to view four commercials using the resurrected gusto theme. The commercials had been put together quickly, a reaction to Schlitz’s insistence on getting something ready as soon as possible.

Burnett employees had researched their commercial ideas by taking a simple storyboard with a sketched sequence of the proposed commercials to the Woodfield Mall in nearby Schaumburg, Illinois. Passers-by were asked by the Burnett people if they understood the commercials. Because of the urgency imposed upon the advertising agency by the brewery, the Burnett people simply wanted to make sure that their initial efforts were on the right track. As a result, they did not ask for the subjects’ opinions as to whether they either liked the product or its proposed style of presentation. With assurances that the test subjects simply understood the concept of the storyboards, the four commercials went into film production.

The commercials varied from one featuring a Muhammad Ali-like boxer with a full entourage to a rugged outdoorsman with his pet mountain lion. In each of the four commercials, an off-camera voice asked the lead characters to give up their Schlitz beer for another brand. The commercials, as Richard Stanwood, at the time Burnett’s director of creative services, would later recall, were meant to be “interruptive.”

At the screening of the new commercials, the Burnett people watched as the boxer told a disembodied voice that he was going to knock him “…down for the count” for even suggesting a switch from the Schlitz label. The outdoorsman in one of the following commercials told his pet mountain lion to calm down after his choice of Schlitz beer was also challenged and snarled back to the animal, “Just a minute, babe. I’ll handle this.”

The group of fifteen Burnett creatives approved the series of commercials without objection as did Schlitz representatives who viewed the commercials soon after.

The reactions to the commercials once they went public were almost immediate; people hated them. Burnett officials were appalled at the reaction.

Jack Powers, who managed the Schlitz account at Burnett, was stunned by the swift public response to the commercials. “I can assure you that we have no desire to threaten the people of the United States. It (the commercials) was supposed to be fun, tongue-in-cheek stuff.”

At Schlitz, the feeling about the unexpected consumer backlash to the series of commercials was much worse. “A really great tragedy-—really, really bad,” a brewery spokesman admitted.

Ten weeks after the commercials first began to air, Schlitz management ordered them pulled. Soon after, the Leo Burnett ad agency was fired by the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company.

The short-lived run of commercials would go down in advertising history as “The Drink Schlitz or I’ll Kill You” ad campaign.

* The complete story of the demise of Schlitz, including comments from Uihlein family members (major stockholders of Schlitz) can be found in my book, BEER: A History of Brewing in Chicago. The aftermath is continued with the detailing of an attempt by Pabst to buy Schlitz, the blocked merger of G. Heileman and Schlitz by the federal government, and the managerial conflicts that hastened the end of Stroh after it acquired Schlitz.

Posted in Beer History | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Geoffrey Baer at Channel 11, WTTW Talks About Schlitz Tied-Houses On “Chicago Tonight,” April 10, 7 P.M

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 10, 2008

I fed his producer a bunch of info about the former Schlitz saloons in Chicago. It’ll be interesting to see if I get a “Contributor” mention.

From the WTTW site;

Ask Geoffrey
Is there something in your neighborhood you’ve always wanted to know more about? Our resident Chicago expert Geoffrey Baer joins us to answer many of those questions in a new segment called “Ask Geoffrey.”

I hope the topic gets the attention it deserves.

Posted in Beer & Food In The News, Beer History, Breweries | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Colleges Criticize Quantity of Beer Ads During NCAA Broadcasts

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 10, 2008

WASHINGTON ( — More than 100 college presidents and athletic directors are urging NCAA President Myles Brand to re-examine the presence of alcohol ads on broadcasts of games, suggesting that college sports and beer advertising are a “bad mix.”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has said some of CBS’s game telecasts may have exceeded the amount of beer advertising allowed.
In a letter sent yesterday, the presidents cited the amount of beer advertising during CBS’s broadcast of the “March Madness” college basketball tournament.

“Beer advertising during the games continues to undermine the many positive attributes of college spots and taints the NCAA’s status as an inspirational youth brand,” the letter reads.

Sounds to me like someone’s not getting enough payola.

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London Porter History

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 9, 2008

There’s a barrel full of fable that surrounds the origins of Porter, some of it disputed by The Zythophile , but to add fat to the fire, London Porter is a very interesting site that also delves into the origins of London Porter and much, much more.

I found the site’s reasoning of leaving butts behind (no pun intended, well, maybe just a little) for maturation purposes and moving on to large-scale vatting—and the switch to attemperated beers—of particular interest.

Start with the “Intro” link in the header and follow along the rest of the links for an interesting read.

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Voices: A brief history of beer

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 9, 2008

Metro is the world\'s largest global view by metro

On Monday, breweries throughout the U.S. celebrated the 75th anniversary of the end of National Prohibition. The thing is, according to the Constitution, National Prohibition ended Dec. 5, 1933.

The “Noble Experiment” was caused by a confluence of events that eventually pitted prohibitionists against the “cabal” of German-American-owned saloons and breweries. Congress gradually fell under the relentless lobbying efforts of the well-financed Anti-Saloon League, showing a willingness to end the manufacture and sale of alcohol with the 1913 ratification of the 16th Amendment that brought us the income tax (on a side note, April 15 is just around the corner!). In 1920, Congress reveled in a whopping $5.4 billion in income taxes. The often-taxed-and-licensed drink trade was forgotten, the feds no longer needing the tax funds they produced.


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That Oh So Wonderful 3.2% Beer Of April 7, 1933

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 7, 2008

At this time in U.S. beer history, the brewing industry was still under the influence of German and German-American brewers. Lager was the most popular beer, not a surprise with wide-girthed Braumeisters still turning out the golden brew. One demonstrated point of their pride of product during the pre-Prohibition era was the brewers’ insistence of a lagering period of at least one month. Now with events as chaotic as they were prior to April 7, and with FDR’s delayed signing of the C-H bill on March 23, they would have had to be clairvoyant to have good-quality and properly aged beer conveniently ready for April 7.

So how did they do it? They used weak, and I would go as far as to claim inferior beer. In Chicago alone, there were 5 legally-licensed breweries that were pumping out real beer and then extracting the alcohol from the beer and selling it as “cereal beverage,” in other words, near beer. I made an earlier reference last April that the beer was “weak-assed” and some beer blogger made the remark with some disdain that there was nothing wrong with weak beer, or as geeks like to put it “session beer.” I agree; there is nothing wrong with lighter-alcohol session beers. If your group is babbling at the bar after something like 3 barleywines or Imperial Stouts, it might be an early end to your little bier klatsch…and that’s no fun. But think about what you would do if you were a brewer back then. How would you handle the grain and hops bill if you knew that in the final process, you would be required to boil the hell out of the beer and collect the vapors of alcohol for shipment to a government-bonded warehouse where alcohol was stored? Would you start with a nice heaving load of fine Moravian malts, maybe throw some crystal malt in for color and a little more body, and then dip into your supply of “noble” hops for character; maybe some for bittering and then topping off the batch with a touch for some added nose?

Of course not! You’d probably use some indifferent malt—and certainly not a lot—and most likely the minimum amount of hops (and who knows how old those hops were?) Why strive for a quality brew when you knew that the beers would be stripped of alcohol and then, either at the local speakeasy or on the delivery truck, the beer would be injected with alcohol through the bung-hole of the wooden barrel, giving rise to the Roaring Twenties speakeasy standby, “needle beer?”

To give you another example of the quality of the beer that was consumed on April 7 and somewhat beyond, city and federal agents were hitting the streets and testing beers in Chicago on April 7, 1933 to make sure the brewers were conforming to the 3.2% alcohol limit. Not one beer sample was in violation. On the contrary, the agents remarked that the beers were well below the legal limit. Why? Because the beer that rolled into the streets of the U.S.A. on April 7 was the indifferent beer that had been brewed for alcohol extraction, brewed to be near beer. It was brewed with the least amount of grains and hops and probably hard to argue that it had been aged for at least a month. What would be the purpose?

After the euphoria and initial beer supplies ran out throughout U.S. breweries, the suds factories started turning out “green” beer, beers that demonstrated little lagering, if any at all. It became so bad that Blatz (and others) began running full-page newspaper ads, thanking FDR for bringing “Democratic” beer back to the masses while pledging to the President and all beer drinkers in the country that they would release no beer, despite the demand, until it had gone through a proper period of maturation. That wasn’t “session beer,” my blogging critic, that was shit beer they were drinking in the aftermath of April 7, 1933.

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New Beer’s Eve: Happy days were here again

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 7, 2008

By Jim Kavanagh 

(CNN) — At the stroke of midnight, American beer drinkers were no longer breaking the law when they broke open a beer.

Breweries and beer lovers around the country are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the return of beer on April 7, 1933, as the Prohibition era was drawing to a close.

It wasn’t quite the end of Prohibition, and it wasn’t quite beer, but after 14 thirsty years, it was close enough.


Bob Skilnik, author of eight books about beer, including “Beer & Food: An American History,” holds that the December date is more significant and that the quickly brewed April 7 beer probably was of poor quality.

More At

Readers have to realize where the beer that night came from. It was beer that was ready to be dealcoholized. The pre-Prohibition brewers used to make a big deal about the length of their beers’ maturation…at least one month. The C-H Bill, however, gave them only 2 weeks to get beer bottled or kegged and ready for the market.

You can be sure that any beer that was about to be stripped of its alcohol was a beer without the choicest hops or a decent grain bill. What would be the purpose if the beer was going to be stripped of alcohol?

This became more obvious as the beer continued to flow from the breweries in the later weeks. The public started to complain that the beer tasted “green,” i.e., not mature. Pabst even started a newspaper campaign that pledged that no beer would leave their brewery until it was ready.

So people can talk nostalgically about the 3.2% beer all they want, call it “session beer” or “small” beer or whatever; it was poorly crafted beer ready for a vigorous boiling to extract the alcohol.


Posted in Beer & Food In The News, Beer History | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Original Formula Schlitz Coming Back to Chicago!!

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 5, 2008

I can’t wait! This is the beer I was raised on, long before certain people at Schlitz got greedy, leading to Schlitz beer becoming known as “Schitz” beer.

The story of the rise and fall of Schlitz, especially in Chicago where it held the top beer sales position for years, is described in my best-selling book,  Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago.

The downfall of Schlitz, combined with a bottler’s strike at Anheuser-Busch in 1976 allowed Old Style, a sleeper brand that had been in Chicago since the early 1900s, to take over the Chicagoland beer market. OS distributors took their battle for supremacy to neighborhood taverns, bottle by bottle and case by case until the brand dominated more than 40% of the local beer market.

The problems of the Jos. Schlitz Brewing Company were brought upon themselves and a board of directors who refused to acknowledge their production mistakes, the sudden death of CEO Bob Uihlein, Jr., and no real leader to take over the business when Bob died, a leader who could handle the meddlesome Uihleins.

At one point, G. Heileman and owner Russ Cleary were poised to buy Schlitz when the Uihlein family-dominated board of directors decided to end it all and sell. At the last minute, the Justice Department stopped the sale, claiming an unfair dominance of the market with the merger. It was a sham of a claim since the combination of G. Heileman and Schlitz would have held about 16% of the national market while Anheuser-Busch already held around 27%.

From Wall Street down through the brewing industry itself, the merger was considered to be a life saver for Schlitz and a boost to G. Heileman which was trying to shed the mantle of being just a regional brewery. It was a perfect match. The feds thought otherwise.

Stroh eventually brought Schlitz but the merger was a disaster. After the family-owned Stroh gave up in 1999, the Schlitz label went to Pabst.

What most beer drinkers don’t realize is that while Pabst owns the label, they actually don’t own any breweries. Their portfolio of once proud regional brands are now brewed by Miller.

I really hope they bring back the original formula and make the brand available again as a draft, bottled and canned product. After Stroh closed, you could only get canned Schlitz beer, which dried up a lot of draft accounts in Chicago. It was a staple at Southport Lanes, for instance

The problem now is, how do you reposition Schlitz as a premium or super-premium beer? It’s had no advertising budget, no media exposure, no nothing for years, just a reputation as a cheap beer that sat on shelves and accumulated dust. The trick will be to be able to convince young beer drinkers that Schlitz is once again a quality product and worth every penny. I imagine it will be priced somewhere between a higher-priced craft beer and a great quality pseudo-craft beer like Blue Moon.

Chicago was it’s number 1 market. It might have been the beer that made Milwaukee famous, but it was Chicago beer drinkers who really made it so.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Posted in Beer & Food In The News, Beer History | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

April 7th is Not the 75th Anniversary of the End of National Prohibition–News Release

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 4, 2008

An American History“What was was once a trite beer history canard has become an outright lie,” says beer historian Bob Skilnik. “I can only hope that the apparent rewriting of U.S. brewing history is either an innocent result of poor research and not a shameful display of industry greed, just for the sake of a bump in beer sales.”

(PRWEB) April 3, 2008 — Bob Skilnik, author of “Beer & Food: An American History” (ISBN 0977808610, Jefferson Press, Hardcover, $24.95), argues that industry embellishments and poor research have distorted the true date of Repeal on December 5, 1933, which signified the revocation of the 18th Amendment and the enactment of the 21st Amendment and brought back the manufacture and sale of all alcoholic beverages.

“Congressional events leading up to April 7, 1933 allowed only the resumption of sales for legal beer with an alcoholic strength of no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight (abw), weak by today’s standards. Congress had earlier passed the so-called Cullen-Harrison Bill which redefined what constituted a legally ‘intoxicating’ beverage. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the bill on March 23, 1933. The bill’s passage took the teeth out of the bite of the Volstead Act of 1919 and raised the Prohibition-era legal limit of alcoholic drinks from .05% abw to 3.2% abw.”


Posted in Beer & Food In The News, Beer History, Editorial | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »