Beer (& More) In Food

Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!

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Diabetics Given New Hope with Book Offering Thousands of Beer Choices That Reveal Their Calories, Carbs and Alcohol Content

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 8, 2009

While Diabetes Associations Suggest Switching to Drinks That Are Lower in Alcohol and Sugar, Current Labeling Laws Fail to Provide Needed Information

 

 Does My BUTT Look BIG In This BEER? Nutritional Values Of 2,000 Worldwide Beers

Chicago, Ill. (PRWEB) April 8, 2009 — Gambrinus Media announced today that “Does My BUTT Look BIG In This BEER? Nutritional Values of 2,000 Worldwide Beers” (ISBN-13: 978-0982218204, $10) is now available in book stores and Internet book sites. The valuable information provided in the paperback book can be used by diabetics under the supervision of their physicians, dieters counting calories or carbohydrates or beer drinkers who simply want to know the nutritional values of what they are drinking. Currently, this kind of information is only available on the federally-mandated nutrition facts labels of light or low-carbohydrate beers.

Tired of waiting for the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to implement transparency in alcohol nutrition labeling requirements, author Bob Skilnik has compiled an impressive array of beers, including popular imports and crafts, with their nutritional values.

“At the moment, individual states determine whether or not the alcoholic strength of a beer can be displayed on containers or advertising materials. If you’re looking for carbohydrate or calorie content on your favorite beers, forget it. You won’t find it, no matter what state you’re in. Suggestions by leading diabetes organizations to seek out beers with less alcohol and carbohydrates are meaningless if that information is not made readily available to consumers.”

A few years ago, the TTB, the federal agency that controls labeling requirements for alcoholic beverages, opened up a comment campaign for a possible new labeling design that drew over 18,000 comments concerning the proposed addition of a nutrition facts label on all alcoholic beverages, similar to what’s found on most packaged foodstuffs. About 96 percent of the comments received by the agency demonstrated a strong wanting for nutritional labeling on all alcoholic products.

“The brewing industry is currently rushing gluten-free beers to store shelves for those beer drinkers who rank among the 2 million Americans who suffer from Celiac Disease, a condition that can damage the intestines due to intolerance to gluten, a protein found in various grains such as barley. Other breweries are trying to capture the even smaller niche of those drinkers looking for ‘organic’ beers. In the meantime, almost 24 million Americans suffer from diabetes, a huge demographic in an otherwise flat market that finally has the opportunity to enjoy a beer or two with a meal or snack, empowered by the information provided in ‘Does My BUTT Look BIG In This BEER? Nutritional Values Of 2,000 Worldwide Beers’ while under the supervision of their physician, dietician or nutritionist.”

Bob Skilnik is a certified brewer and freelance writer. He’s been a contributor to the Good Eating Section of the Chicago Tribune and a former columnist for the LowCarb Energy magazine. The Chicago writer has appeared on ABC’s “The View,” ESPN2’s “Cold Pizza,” Fox News Channel’s “Fox News Live,” and Chicagoland print, radio and television outlets, preaching the moderate consumption and nutritional aspects of adult beverages. Skilnik is currently working on a similar nutritional research project with wine for late summer publication. More information can be found at “Drink Healthy, Drink Smart” (http://drinkhealthydrinksmart.com)

“Does My BUTT Look BIG In This BEER? Nutritional Values Of 2,000 Worldwide Beers” is distributed by Ingram Book Group, the world’s largest wholesale distributor of book products. With four distribution centers strategically located throughout the country and the largest inventory in the industry, Ingram provides the fastest delivery available.

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Posted in Beer & Food In The News, Beer & Health, Beer And Calories, Beer And Carbohydrates, Beer Nutritional Info, Book Reviews, Books & Beer, calories in beer, carbohydrates in beer, Malt Beverage Nutritional Info, Plugs | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BEER Nutrition Book Now Available

Posted by Bob Skilnik on January 22, 2009

Nutritional Values of 2,000 Worldwide Beers

Nutritional Values of 2,000 Worldwide Beers


NOW AT AMAZON

NOW AT BARNES & NOBLE!

 

Does My BUTT Look BIG

In This BEER?

Nutritional Values of
2,000 Worldwide Beers
 

 

— Bob Skilnik —

aka, The Low-Carb Bartender

Pick up a candy bar, a bag of potato chips, or even your kid’s favorite sugar-coated breakfast cereals and you can refer to a Nutrition Facts label that gives you the kind of nutritional information that you, the consumer, deserves to know.

But pick up a bottle of your favorite beer, and unless it’s a low-calorie or low-carbohydrate brew with a federally-required Nutrition Facts label emblazoned on it, you have no idea what, if any, nutritional components are in a regular-brewed stout, porter, bock, wheat beer or even a simple
American-style pilsner beer…

…Until NOW! Whether you’re counting calories, carbs or even Weight Watchers® Points®, here’s the nutritional information that you can’t find anywhere else but in these following pages for
over 2,000 worldwide beers.

 

Moderation, Not Deprivation!

Posted in Beer & Food In The News, Beer & Health, Beer And Calories, Beer And Carbohydrates, beer diet, Beer Nutritional Info, Book Reviews, Books & Beer, calories in beer, carbohydrates in beer, Malt Beverage Nutritional Info, Weight Watchers POINTS | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Does My BUTT Look BIG In This BEER? NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted by Bob Skilnik on January 2, 2009

Nutritional Values of 2,000 Worldwide Beers

Nutritional Values of 2,000 Worldwide Beers

NOW AT AMAZON

NOW AT BARNES & NOBLE!

Does My BUTT Look BIG

In This BEER?

Nutritional Values of
2,000 Worldwide Beers
 

 

— Bob Skilnik —

aka, The Low-Carb Bartender

 

Pick up a candy bar, a bag of potato chips, or even your kid’s favorite sugar-coated breakfast cereals and you can refer to a Nutrition Facts label that gives you the kind of nutritional information that you, the consumer, deserves to know.

But pick up a bottle of your favorite beer, and unless it’s a low-calorie or low-carbohydrate brew with a federally-required Nutrition Facts label emblazoned on it, you have no idea what, if any, nutritional components are in a regular-brewed stout, porter, bock, wheat beer or even a simple
American-style pilsner beer…

…Until NOW! Whether you’re counting calories, carbs or even Weight Watchers® Points®, here’s the nutritional information that you can’t find anywhere else but in these following pages for
over 2,000 worldwide beers.

 

Moderation, Not Deprivation!

Preface

Whether brewers, vintners or distillers like it or not, the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), responsible for labeling requirements of alcoholic beverages, is close to making it mandatory for alcoholic beverages to list their nutritional values. Whenever the TTB can finally arrive at some sort of standardized Nutrition Facts label that makes sense (it might take years), they have assured the drink industry that once they settle on an idea of what will be needed on the Nutrition Facts label, they will still give industry members an additional three years to redesign new labels and ease the cost of testing and relabeling by gradually implementing their compliance timeline.

One compelling reason why this will come to fruition is because of the hand of globalism in today’s universal trade and commerce. As the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States notes in their most recent comment in TTB Notice No. 74, “…this proposed rule change would bring TTB requirements into conformity with the provisions of the World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) Agreement on Wine Labelling (sic). As stated by TTB, ‘[these] negotiations proceeded from the view that common labeling requirements would provide industry members with the opportunity to use the same label when shipping product to each of the WWTG member countries. With a global economy and with free travel among consumers, we support TTB’s effort to harmonize its labeling regulations with international requirements. TTB’s proposal would have the beneficial effect of serving the interests of consumers, as well as eliminating a potential barrier to trade between countries.'”

Change is coming and it has the tailwinds of consumer support and NAFTA conformity behind it with a soon-to-be standardized world market of beer, wine and booze labels. Without acceptance by U.S. drink manufacturers, it’s conceivable that the import/export markets of beers, wines and spirits would come to a halt; but be assured, that that will not happen.

So in reality, the global economy is probably more the driving force behind the eventuality of nutritional labeling on beer, wine and booze than any concerns about the wants or needs of consumers.

But why worry about any of this? In the following pages, you’ll find nutritional information now that will help you to enjoy the moderate consumption of worldwide beer whether you’re counting calories, carbohydrates or WEIGHT WATCHERS® POINTS®, perhaps even trying to pack on the pounds, or simply trying to maintain your current weight. You can even use the alcohol by volume (abv) information in this reference guide to settle bar bets; What’s the strongest beer? The weakest? for instance.

Measurement Tolerances

“The Bureau [TTB] has determined that tolerance ranges are required with respect to labeled statements of caloric, carbohydrate, protein, and fat contents for malt beverages. The intent of these tolerances is to provide for normal production and analytical variables while continuing to ensure that the labeling is not misleading to the consumer.

Held, the statement of caloric content on labels for malt beverages will be considered acceptable as long as the caloric content, as determined by ATF [Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Bureau] analysis, is within the tolerance +5 and -10 calories of the labeled caloric content. For example a label showing 96 calories will be acceptable if ATF analysis of the product shows a caloric content between 86 and 101 calories.

Held further, the statements of carbohydrate and fat contents on labels for malt beverages will be considered acceptable as long as the carbohydrate and fat contents, as determined by ATF analysis, are within a reasonable range below the labeled amount but, in no case, are more than 20% above the labeled amount. For example, a label showing 4.0 grams (within good manufacturing practice limitations) but not more than 4.8 grams.

Held further, the statement of protein content on labels for malt beverages will be considered acceptable as long as the protein content, as determined by ATF analysis, is within a reasonable range above the labeled amount but, in no case, is less than 80% of the labeled amount. For example, a label showing 1.0 gram protein will be acceptable if ATF analysis of the product shows a protein content which is more than 1.0 gram (within good manufacturing practice limitations) but no less than 0.8 gram.”


Book Guidelines

You’ll probably notice disparities between the nutritional information of the same brands of beer, but brewed in different countries. Guinness or Beck’s comes to mind. Some worldwide breweries contract to have their beers brewed in satellite breweries, far from their home offices. The use of more easily available indigenous grains or accommodating known taste preferences of local beer drinkers can influence the use of different mixtures of grains in the mash, differently treated water sources, ever-changing ratios of various types of hops in the kettle, and even yeast strains in the fermentor, which can account for variances in calories, carbohydrates and alcohol levels for the same brand of beers in different countries. Guinness, for instance, is extremely popular in Nigeria, yet the cost of shipping malted barley from Ireland would be prohibitive. As a result, indigenous grains such as sorghum and soybeans can also be added to the grain bill. As noted throughout the book, and reflective of different brewing practices in a host of countries, the nutritional value for Guinness will vary widely. The beer is currently brewed in 51 countries!

Serving size for beer is listed in the book as 12-ounces (with rare exceptions), even if the beer comes in 22-ounce “bombers” or half-liter bottles, as per the TTB and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggestions. That serving size (12-ounces) for beer will assuredly be solidified when the TTB makes its final decision on labeling requirements. I have no idea how the TTB will handle high-strength beers such as The Boston Beer Company’s Utopia or Millenium brands, for instance. The brewery recommends a moderate 2-ounce serving size for these high-alcohol brews, but with a beer serving being defined as 12-ounces, this is just one more standardization problem that the TTB will have to deal with.

No sodium, fat, cholesterol or protein values are listed here. There is NO fat nor cholesterol in beer and trace amounts of sodium and protein values in your favorite brew. While TTB mandated alcoholic drink labels will almost assuredly display protein levels in grams and sodium levels in milligrams-all part of a labeling consistency for beer, wine, liquor and liqueurs-these numbers in beer are insignificant in my opinion, especially in light of the government recommendation of no more than two 12-ounce servings of beer for men and one 12-ounce serving of suds for women per day. For instance, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for sodium for a 25 old male is 1500 mg. Your average 12-ounce serving of Budweiser contains less than 10 mg of sodium. The average 12-ounce serving of Budweiser also contains 1.3 grams (gm) of protein while the RDA for protein for a male, 25 years and older, is 63 grams. (I used a 25-year old male for obvious reasons; they do enjoy their beers.) You could check out similar parameters for 25-year old women or different ages for men and women and you’d never find any beer, let alone a Budweiser, coming anywhere near RDA levels. You’d have to drink more than 150 bottles of Budweiser to hit the sodium RDA or chug down a little more than 49 bottles of the stuff to hit the protein RDA. Remember again; we’re considering the fed’s recommendation of no more than two 12-ounce servings of beer a day for men and one serving for women. The need to worry about sodium and protein in beer seems like a wasted exercise, so these nutritional values are ignored here. 

One more caveat. Breweries are changing, and tweaking their recipes all the time, skewing their beers’ nutritional values with any given batch. Also be aware that any measurement of the nutritional values of beer is based on an average analysis. No two batches of beer will ever be the same. That’s why the TTB gives an expected range (+, -) for calorie, carbohydrate and protein analyses. Of the many breweries that contributed to this book, The Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was the only brewery that sent me their beer nutritional information with expected ranges, not as definitive numbers. That’s really how you have to look at the information in this book; numbers will fluctuate with each batch of beer. Keeping the nutritional data within an expected range and deriving an average analysis of product is what’s given here.

I welcome any documented corrections to the material presented here and will post them on our website and will also include the newest numbers in future printings of this book. There are more than 2,000 beers in this list, the majority of them with ALL their carbs, calories, and alcohol by volume percentages listed. You’ll waste your time going through the various websites with nutritional values of beer. Using info direct from the breweries, I’ve often found that the website nutritional values are wrong; more often than not, very wrong!

This material, as presented, is copyrighted. Slight “ringers” with an insignificant difference of .01 g carbs or 1 calorie have been added to the list to track any attempts to duplicate this material.

We’ll be online soon with ever-expanding information on beer, wine, and booze nutritional values and be presenting plenty of tips on how to enjoy them in a moderate, responsible and healthful manner. 

On the website, you’ll find:

  • New and updated information  for the nutritional values for beer, wine and booze as more numbers come in
  • Lower-calorie, lower-carbohydrate and lower-fat recipe versions of your favorite mixed-drinks
  • Tasty recipes for making your own lower-calorie, lower-carbohydrate and lower-fat liquors, liqueurs and bar mixes
  • Food recipes using beer, wine and booze as condiments, with an emphasis on flavorful and healthy dishes
  • Video presentations of much of what’s listed above
  • A drink recipe exchange forum

Posted in Beer & Food In The News, Beer & Health, Beer And Calories, Beer And Carbohydrates, beer diet, Beer Nutritional Info, Book Reviews, Books & Beer, Booze Drink Recipes, Booze Nutritional Info, Booze Recipes, calories in beer, carbohydrates in beer, Cooking With Beer, Liqueur Nutritional Info, Malt Beverage Nutritional Info, Spirits Nutritional Info, Video Recipes, Weight Watchers POINTS, Wine And Carbohydrates, Wine Nutritional Info | Tagged: , , , , | 13 Comments »

Tales From “Beer & Food: An American History”

Posted by Bob Skilnik on December 28, 2008

     In the last decade or so, there has been an explosion of new beer-themed cookbooks that have either attempted to pair up food with various styles of beer or use beer as an ingredient in its preparation. The craft beer movement and its impact in reawakening the brewing of styles of beer that had long been forgotten in the United States seems to have had a strong influence on the authors of these cookbooks. Though many of the recipes that have been created in the last few years have ambitiously tried to match these forgotten beer styles with various foods, the efforts often seem too esoteric for my taste, too demanding of my time and certainly not of common everyday fare.

A cedar-planked wild salmon matched with a highly-hopped pale ale sounds delicious on a restaurant menu but way beyond the sort of entrée one might whip-up at home. Let’s face it, there are few home cooks who have a supply of untreated cedar boards stored away or have ready access to wild salmon for this sort of a dish. And what would be a proposed vegetable accompaniment to such an entrée? Suggestions in the latest beer cookbooks might include the steamed, young tender shoots of the hop vine, similar, so we’re told, to the springtime harvest of asparagus. My local supermarket doesn’t carry young hop shoots. Does yours? Since supermarket asparagus continues to be flown in from God-knows-where and priced at $3.99 to $4.99 per pound in late December, imagine what a price of hop shoots would cost, if they could even be found.

As we look at the evolution of the use of beer in American food recipes, I hope to convince readers that beer, the drink of the common man, might be more appropriate and more user-friendly in less esoteric culinary excursions. After reading through a number of contemporary beer & food cookbooks, I couldn’t stop from thinking, “What ever happened to the old simple recipe of soaking bratwurst overnight in beer and then throwing them on the grill?”

        Initially in a search for simpler recipes of food using beer, I decided instead to begin by looking back at the roots of American cookery and its use of beer as an ingredient, to discover when the marriage of food and beer really took hold in our country’ s colonial kitchens. Using food recipes from some of the earliest American cookbooks through an assortment of recipes from the publications of pre and post-Prohibition breweries that have long past into oblivion, I have gathered, edited and tested a generous collection of old tried-and-true attempts at bringing together American food and beer.

American Food Meets American Beer

A number of well intentioned individuals have sent me scores of purported recipes using beer in food from Medieval times and earlier during my early research efforts, but I have chosen instead to use nothing more than published recipes from American sources. My avoidance of European cookbooks is deliberate, an acknowledgment of the chasm that developed in the late 1790s between cookbooks using English-styled recipes and ingredients and the first publication of a true American cookbook in 1796, written by an American using ingredients indigenous to the New World. With the beginnings of a uniquely American cuisine (actually a fusion of the best and most practical recipes from English cuisine) runs the parallel development of the United States brewing industry.

Like early American cooking efforts, early brewers also utilized indigenous ingredients for their brews. Amelia Simmons’ ground-breaking American Cookery, or The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes….Adapted to this Country and All Grades of Life, makes no mention of beer or ale using the customary malted barley in any of her food recipes but does give instructions for the brewing of “spruce beer” and the use of “emptins” to leaven bread, a fermenting mixture of wild hops and starch. The lactic but leavening quality of this mixture was usually aided with the addition of saleratus, a naturally forming white crystalline substance having a sweetening alkaline quality, used like today’s baking soda. With the chemical reaction of the alkaline saleratus and the sour or lactic quality of a home made yeast, a leavening effect was assured. This homemade yeast starter, more a staple of forced necessity than choice, was a virtual cauldron of unpredictability, an aspect of fermentation that also plagued early commercial brewing efforts.

The preparation of spruce beer and the use of emptins in the kitchen hint at the widespread lack of high grade English malt or reliable brewing yeasts in many parts of the colonies, at least before the Revolutionary War. To a degree, this regression in brewing is startling. During the 1600s, settlements in the New Netherland and New England colonies had actually developed more than the semblance of a brewing industry in the Americas. Excessive taxation by local politicians of commercial beer and the abundance of cheap imported West Indies rum had caused the young American brewing industry to retreat to colonial households.

G. Thomman, in his 1909 book, American Beer, Glimpses of Its History and Description of Its Manufacture notes that good quality ingredients for brewing in the colonies were often difficult to attain during this era.

“…at one time the importation of malt was forbidden, in order to stimulate domestic malting; yet, within a short time thereafter, the malting of domestic wheat, rye and barley was prohibited on account of the scarcity of these cereals. At another time, a desire to encourage the exportation of wheat led to the enactment of a law imposing upon a brewers a fine of ten shillings for every bushel of wheat used in brewing. Ordinances encouraging brewing by exempting beer from taxation were counteracted in their contemplated effects by regulations prescribing the quality and fixing the price of malt liquors without regard to the increased cost of materials and production.”

 

By the late 1600s, even New York and Pennsylvania, where the brewing industry had flourished, fell into disrepair, though a few breweries continued to operate in Philadelphia, brewing quality porters and other ales. The widespread result of excessive taxation of beer and the lack of good quality brewing materials brought about not only a hodgepodge of unpalatable home brews using indigenous American ingredients such as corn, ginger, molasses or sassafras, but also a lack of readily available sources of good quality “barm,” or brewer’s yeast. Without this catalyst for fermentation, it often became difficult to make either a palatable home brew or a consistent supply of commercial malt beverages for those few breweries that still attempted to ply their trade.

The use of brewer’s yeast in households to leaven bread would eventually become a practice that would establish itself in the early 1800s of American home and commercial baking when, not coincidentally, the brewing industry began to regroup and expand.

Small Beer

            This is not to say that beer was completely lacking in the colonies during the Revolutionary War era. Victor S. Clark in his History of Manufactures in the United States talks of the humble retreat of the American brewing industry.

            “When the Constitution was adopted many housewives still brewed small beer for their families, and for fifty years thereafter numerous village breweries continued in operation with an equipment and a volume of business hardly exceeding those of a village bakery…”

 

            This “small beer” that Clark speaks of was a weak brew, meant to be consumed almost immediately after it was brewed. Its lower alcoholic strength, and oftentimes lack in the brew of hops with their preservative qualities, necessitated quick consumption since the proper sanitation of brewing equipment and storage vessels and the chemistry involved in making a proper beer were sorely lacking. The unpredictability of a successful batch of beer was based on an all too common reliance on wild yeasts to activate the fermentation. Most household yeast starters were filled with the wild yeast qualities of Saccharomyces exiguus and Lactobacillus bacteria. More often than not, these two critters would win the battle for survival in the young brew even if the beer-making Saccaromyces cerevisae yeast was present. This unpredictable blending of yeasts was just the right mixture of mischievous fungi for setting off the leavening of sourdough bread, the deliberate (though more often than not, accidental) making of vinegar and the occasional batch of good-quality beer.

The result was often a spoiled batch of beer or one that could turn quickly, whether brewed at home or in the few commercial breweries of the era. If consumed quickly, however, there was the chance that the wild yeasts that had caused the fermentation to occur did not have time enough to completely spoil the brew, fended off, perhaps, by the valiant efforts of a particularly determined colony of Saccaromyces cerevisaeyeast. In other words, early brewing efforts were often a crapshoot, an example of brewing being more of an art then a science.

American cookbooks of this era and beyond occasionally used “sour beer” as an ingredient in recipes, also described as stale beer. Lydia Maria Francis Child in The Frugal Housewife: Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy, Boston: Carter and Hendee, 1830, suggested the addition of soured beer as a substitution for wine in stew-like dishes, either liquid ingredient having the necessary acidity to tenderize meat. Another mention of what to do with sour beer can be found in another recipe in her book for making batter for fritters or pancakes. Many contemporary batter recipes using beer still call for flat beer, a reflection of its earliest use when beer soured and was often left devoid of any natural carbonation. The call for flat beer for batters in today’s cookbooks serve no purpose different than the usage of carbonated beer; it merely is a holdover from the days of an abundance of flat beer. Waste not, want not — but contemporary recipe book authors merely reflect a centuries-old practice, unaware of why flat beer is called for.

If the household supply of beer had soured beyond all hope, Child’s book also suggested a mixture of the beer, molasses, water and a vinegar starter, all of which could be added to the family’s never-ending barrel of homemade vinegar. Not only did this practice illustrate the reality of beer turning bad on a regular basis but also Ms. Child’s and the early American settlers’ frugal philosophy of “waste not, want not.” It’s no wonder that some early American breweries also sidelined as vinegar purveyors. What better way to profit from a failed batch of beer!

            A manuscript of George Washington’s writings includes this recipe for small beer.

 

“Take a large Siffer [Sifter] of Bran…Hops to your Taste—Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall[ons] into a Cooler  put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Molasses into the Cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot.  Let this stand till it is a little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t  if the Weather is very Cold cover it over with a Blank[et] & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask—leave the Bung [Stopper] open till it almost don[e] Working—Bottle it that day Week it was brewed.”

 

            The unknown variables in this recipe for beer by President Washington would be frightening for any modern-day brewer, a mention of sanitation procedures and the quality of the yeast strain lacking in Washington’s brewing instructions. It’s a wonder whether the father of our country was a better brewer or maker of vinegar!

 

Don’t Go Near the Water

            If the brewing of beer was such a crapshoot, with the final product often destined to succumb to spoilage, why did early Americans even bother to brew? More than likely, the reason was poor quality water, or more accurately, the perception of bad, unpotable water. Now this might seem an odd notion considering the pristine rivers, babbling streams and crystal clear bodies of water that the early settlers surely came upon in the New World. Immigrants, however, had seen what polluted water could do to a once healthy person in the Old World. Diseases like typhoid and dysentery were common in built up areas such as established European cities and large villages. Though the concept of bacteria and its connection to hygiene were yet unknown, there was an almost inherent knowledge, shared from the educated lawmaker to the lowly peasant that the consumption of water seemed to foster disease.

Little wonder why. By the 1700s, many European waters were already polluted with human waste. Add to that the run off from tanneries and slaughterhouses and other industries that found the local rivers and lakes to be ideal dumping grounds for the unwanted by-products of their industrial efforts.

            When settlers arrived in the New World, their wariness of drinking any water was understandable. However, by boiling water and getting an infusion of fermentables from ingredients such as spruce, corn, barley or bran, as Washington’s beer recipe shows, the people of the Colonists era sensed that boiling was critical in insuring a healthy drink. It’s no wonder that beer, hot cocoa drinks, tea, and later coffee, all had the common element of using boiled water. Even potions such as rum toddies, oftentimes diluted with water, were finalized before consumption with the insertion of a glowing red poker to stir the concoction and heat the drink to a frothy boil.

 

Strong Beer

            There are recorded instances, however, of the higher-strength “strong beer” or “ship’s beer” also being used in some early American food recipes. In the these instances, the brew could be used in the place of a fortified Madeira, but for the most part, the strongest beers were sought out by the landed gentry who could afford them and stored away with the household’s supply of expensive wines. In other words, they were meant to be savored by beer drinkers as intended and not necessarily as a cooking ingredient. These beers were typically imported from England and brewed using quality malts and more reliable yeast strains and astringently hopped for a preservative effect. Strong beer’s use in early recipes, however, does occasionally show up in cookbooks of this era.

 

To Stew Brisket of Beef

Having rubbed the brisket with common salt and saltpetre, let it lie four days. Then lard the skin with fat bacon, and put it into a stew pan with a quart of water; a pint of red wine, or strong beer, half a pound of butter, a bunch of sweet herbs, three or four shallot, some pepper and half a nutmeg grated. Covet the pan very close. Stew it over a gentle fire for six hours. Then fry some square pieces of boiled turnips very brown. Strain the liquor the beef was stewed in, thicken it with burnt butter, and having mixed the turnips with it, pour all together over the beef in a large dish. Serve it up hot, and garnish with lemon sliced.

Susannah Carter, The Frugal Housewife: Or, Complete Woman Cook; Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Liands is Explained in Upwards of Five Hundred Approved Receipts New York, Printed and sold by G. & R. Waite, no. 64, Maidenlane, 1803

 

           

Expansion of the Brewing Industry

As the country continued to develop and expand, a number of things occurred that reinstigated the brewing of beer on a commercial scale, limiting the need for home brewing and even the necessity of small rural taverns to simultaneously act as boarding rooms, eateries, stables and ersatz breweries. Although normal trade relations with Englandwere interrupted again with the War of 1812, and with it, the importation of good quality English malt, the growing of native barley as a cash crop had increased substantially in the states to fill the void of imported brewing grains. This indigenous grain of six-row barley, along with the deliberate cultivation of the wild hops that could be found in the rural areas of much of the East Coast, brought together the necessary ingredients to make a qualffable beer.

One of the first brewers’ of note during the expansion of the early American brewing industry was Matthew Vassar. This brewer shrugged off the destruction by fire of his brewery in 1811 and restarted his brewing business soon after. Although his initial efforts amounted to no more than the brewing of three barrels of beer at a time, the reputation of his products gave him enough capital to open up a saloon in the basement of the Poughkeepsie, New York courthouse to sell his products. Vassar is more well-known for his later founding of Vassar College, but for our purposes, it is interesting to note that he also was responsible for introducing oysters to the beer drinkers of Poughkeepsie, years before the philanthropist provided the capital for the institution of an all-womans’ college. I’m still amazed at beer enthusiasts today who gush over the notion of pairing a dark beer with oysters when the practice had bee commonplace for centuries. An absolutely delightful book about the importance of the American oyster trade, centered around New York City, is Mark Kurlansky’s “The Big Oyster,” History of the Half Shell. Stopping in the many “oyster saloons” in New York for a dozen freshly-schucked oysters and washing them down with beer was a common indulgence.

His father, James, also a brewer, had a reputation years earlier for brewing quality ales, milds, porters and small beers, as well as the selling of “skimmings” or yeasty barm to families for the use in baking products. Those families that had access to brewery yeast found that it helped to make a good quality leavened bread.

This bread recipe below also takes advantage of corn meal, often called “Indian meal” or simply “Indian” in early American cookbooks.

 

Rye and Indian Bread

Sift two quarts of rye, and two quarts of Indian meal, and mix them well together. Boil three pints of milk; pour in boiling hot upon the meal; add two teaspoonfuls of salt, and stir the whole very hard. Let it stand till it becomes of only a lukewarm heat, and then stir in half a pint of good fresh yeast; if from the brewery and quite fresh, a smaller quantity will suffice. Knead the mixture into stiff dough, and set it to rise in a pan. Cover it with a thick cloth that has been previously warmed, and set it near the fire. When it is quite light, and has cracked all over the top, make it into two loaves, put them into a moderate oven, and bake them two hours and a half.

Esther Allen Howland, The New England Economical Housekeeper, and Family Receipt Book, Cincinnati: H.W. Derby, 1845

 

By the early 1800s, however, the brewing of good quality ale had once again become more common place, especially in regions where German immigrants had settled. Pennsylvania was particularly noted as the leading brewing center of the United States during the first few decades of the nineteenth century, with New York, Massachusetts and Maryland adding to the beginnings of large scale brewing in America. By 1850, four hundred and thirty-one breweries accounted for 23,267,730 gallons of beer, and with it, a more common source of brewer’s yeast for baking.

 

The Temperance Effect on Cooking

Part of this expansion of the American brewing trade was a result of the inadvertent influence of the early temperance movement to steer imbibers to the lower-strength malted beverages. This movement was a reaction to the free-wheeling countryside bootlegging of whiskey and the importation of cheap rum into the U.S. At the time, drunkenness was a problem in the states, especially in the rural areas where a bumper crop of bulky corn could be easily mashed and distilled into the more portable and potent American whiskey. Though whiskey could be used as a bartering tool in the back woods and farm lands where money was scarce, it was also subject to abuse by settlers during the downtime of the winter months. Various government efforts were made to convert whiskey drinkers to the less inebriating enjoyment of malted beverages. By the 1880s, beer, or more specifically, lager beer, would indeed take over in popularity as the drink of the common man. Unfortunately, decades later, U.S. brewers, boastful creators of the resultant “drink of moderation,” would also find themselves targeted by both advocates of temperance and the more forceful prohibition movement.

In a reflection of the times, this first wave of American temperance in the 1830s was not only exhibited in the development of “dry” organizations such as the Washingtonian Movement and its Total Abstinence Society, ironically conceived in a Baltimore tippling house by a group of repentant drunks, but also in some cookbooks of the era. The dedication page of Ann Allen’s The Housekeeper’s Assistant, Composed Upon Temperance Principles: With Instructions In The Art of Making Plain And Fancy Cakes, Puddings, Pastry, Confectionery, Ice Creams, Jellies, Blanc Mange: Also, For The Cooking Of All The Various Kinds of Meats…, Boston, J. Munroe, 1845, preaches to readers that the “authoress” has dedicated the book to the temperance movement and hints of the apparent use of liquor [most likely including beer] in everyday cooking. In the dedication, Allen vows that she does not use alcoholic drinks “…as a beverage or in cookery.”

By the 1840s, as some states started to wrestle with the gradual move from the softer-stanced temperance movement and towards the harsher prohibition of the manufacture and consumption of all alcoholic drinks, a new type of beer would come on to the American scene, one that would change the history of the United States brewing industry and begin to seal the relationship between food and beer.

 

Food Recipes of the pre-Lager Era

There are various example of yeast recipes for home baking during the years before lager beer, some using the very American pumpkin as a fermentable yeast starter, bran, indigenous white potatoes and the chancy emptins concoction, as described earlier. The following recipe for a yeast starter utilized malt from a local brewery and, though it’s not explicitly stated here, probably also utilized a sample of good quality yeast from the same brewery. The publication of this cookbook in 1840 by Eliza Leslie reflected the growing, and for many, the more familiar sight of a local brewery in the immediate area. Yeast starter recipes for the next few decades usually recommend picking up either malt or yeast barm from a brewery, a luxury the household cook couldn’t envision from the colonial era until the early to mid-1830s or so.

Also note the addition of pearl ash in the yeast to counteract the inevitable souring of the starter that sat around a little bit too long. Potash, as it’s more commonly known today, was originally obtained from wood ashes and used to counteract the eventual lactic qualities of a yeast starter with its alkaline properties. Its usage was similar to that of saleratus.

Also note that by the time of this recipe book’s publication in 1840, molasses had become an everyday-cooking ingredient, this New World sweetener having replaced the once traditional English treacle in U.S. cooking usage.

 

Baker’s Yeast

To a gallon of soft water, put two quarts of wheat bran, one quart of ground malt (which may be obtained from a brewery), and two handfuls of hops. Boil them together for half an hour. Then strain it through a sieve, and let it stand till it is cold; after which put in two large tea-cups of molasses, and half a pint of strong yeast. Pour it into a stone jug, and let it stand uncorked till next morning. Then pour off the thin liquid from the top, and cork the jug tightly. When you are going to use this yeast, if it has been made two or three days, stir in a little pearl-ash dissolved in warm water, allowing a lump the size of a hickory-nut to a pint of yeast. This will correct any tendency to sourness, and make the yeast more brisk.

 

Eliza Leslie, Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches. Philadelphia: E.L. Carey & Hart, 1840

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Though many of the soup/stew-type recipes of the late 1700s and early 1800s call for the addition of Madiera, red wine or, as a last resort, sour beer, as a tenderizing ingredient, this soup is an example of the much rarer use of ale, simply as a flavoring component.

Asparagus Soup

Take five or six pounds of lean beef, cut into lumps and rolled in flour; put into your stew-pan, with two or three slices of fat bacon at the bottom; then put over a slow fire, and cover it close, stirring it now and then till the gravy is drawn: then put in it two quarts of water and half a pint of ale. Cover it close, and let it stew gently for an hour with some whole pepper, and salt to your mind; then strain off the liquor, and take off the fat; put in the leaves of white beets, some spinach, some cabbage, lettuce, a little mint, some sorrel, and a little sweet marjoram powdered; [after removing fat from the gravy, pour back into the stew] let these boil up in your liquor, then put in the green tops of asparagus cut small, and let them boil till all is tender. Serve it up hot, with a French roll in the middle.

 

Susannah Carter. The Frugal Housewife: Or, Complete Woman Cook; Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands is Explained in Upwards of Five Hundred Approved Receipts… New York, Printed and sold by G. & R. Waite, no. 64, Maidenlane, 1803

 

 

            Below is another example of ale being used for flavoring, not as a tenderizer. Note that this recipe specifically calls for “…good table beer.”

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To Make a Craw Fish Soup

 

Cleanse them [the crawfish], and boil them in water, salt and spice: pull off their feet and tails, and fry them [the crawfish, not the feet and tails]; break the rest of them [the feet and tails] in a stone mortar, season them with savory spice, and an onion, a hard egg, grated bread, and sweet herbs boiled in good table beer; strain it, and put to it scalded chopped parsley, and French rolls; then put in the fried craw fish, with a few mushrooms. Garnish the dish with sliced lemon, and the feet and tail of a craw fish.

 

Susannah Carter. The Frugal Housewife: Or, Complete Woman Cook; Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands is Explained in Upwards of Five Hundred Approved Receipts… New York, Printed and sold by G. & R. Waite, no. 64, Maidenlane, 1803

 

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            Though we’ll see numerous interpretations of stew using beer as an ingredient throughout the book, this early recipe holds up well throughout the scores of stew recipes of the next two centuries. Note, however, that red wine is the first choice as an ingredient, not beer.

Burnt or dried bread is often called for in early gravy-based dishes to thicken the sauce.

 

To Stew Beef

Take four pounds of stewing beef, with the hard fat of brisket beef cut in pieces; put these into a stew-pan with three pints of water, a little salt, pepper, dried marjorum powdered and three cloves. Cover the pan very close and let it stew four hours over a slow fire. Then throw into it as much turnips and carrots cut into square pieces, as you think convenient; and the white part of a large leek, two heads of celery shred fine, a crust of bread burnt, and half a pint of red wine (or good small beer will do as well). Then pour it all into a soup-dish and serve it up hot, garnish with boiled and slice carrot.

 

Susannah Carter. The Frugal Housewife: Or, Complete Woman Cook; Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands is Explained in Upwards of Five Hundred Approved Receipts… New York, Printed and sold by G. & R. Waite, no. 64, Maidenlane, 1803

 

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Dutch Cakes

 

Take five pounds of flour, two ounces of caraway seeds, half a pound of sugar, and something more than a pint of milk, put into it three quarters of a pound of butter, then make a hole in the middle of the flour, and put in a full pint of good ale-yeast: pour in the butter and milk, and make these into a paste, letting it stand a quarter of an hour before the fire to rise; then mould it, and roll into cakes pretty thin; prick them all over pretty much, or they will blister, and bake them a quarter of an hour.

 

Susannah Carter. The Frugal Housewife: Or, Complete Woman Cook; Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands is Explained in Upwards of Five Hundred Approved Receipts… New York, Printed and sold by G. & R. Waite, no. 64, Maidenlane, 1803

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Read More In Beer & Food: An American History

Review

“The first book that gives a historical look at why beer and food are truly partners in today’s kitchens.”  —John R. Hall, president, Goose Island Beer Company
“Kudos to Bob Skilnik for creating this absorbing and informative resource.”  —Keith Lemcke, marketing manager, World Brewing Academy
“This enjoyable read merits a pint of your favorite ale by your side, so you may sip and browse throughout!”  —Lucy Saunders, editor, Beercook.com, and author, Grilling with Beer
“A tasty history, from beer soup to Beer Nuts, with pickled pigs’ feet in between.”  —Don Russell, a.k.a. “Joe Sixpack,” beer reporter, Philadelphia Daily News

 

 

 

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