Beer (& More) In Food

Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!

Posts Tagged ‘Beer History’

Chicago-World’s Greatest Beer Town

Posted by Bob Skilnik on August 26, 2008

I received an e-mail from Kevin Brown, a writer with the Ale Street News. I met Kevin a few months ago in St. Louis when we were enjoying the hospitality of St. Louis brewers at a beer dinner, the prelude to a long weekend of beer tastings and tours.

His latest article will be about great beer towns and Chicago, of course, has to be included…but why?

My response;

For a historian like myself, Chicago is still rich with beer and brewing history although old local brewing sites still fall to the wrecking ball on a regular basis. Chicago’s fading beer past, however, sets the greater Chicagoland area up for today’s diversified selection of beers from the U.S. and around the world.
I’ve often heard the criticism that Chicago still lags behind other big cities when it comes to local breweries. Chicago, however, is more than the city itself, and if you add the greater Chicagoland area to the mix, you can enjoy craft beers from dozens of brewpubs, three breweries (with one more coming soon online) and the biggest selections of U.S. and worldwide beers in our area liquor stores and retail outlets.
And you have to talk about the macros; A little more than a year ago, Pabst moved their headquarters to Woodridge, IL a Chicago suburb; Just a few weeks ago, MillerCoors announced that their new venture would be headquartered in Chicago.
Topping all of this off are old and well-established beer distributors such as Schamberger Bros., Inc, established in Chicago during the early days of Repeal, and Louis Glunz Beer Inc., a distributorship that first supplied Schlitz beer for the 1893 World’s Columbian Expo in Chicago. Along with niche distributors such as Stawski Distributing, which imports beers from Central Europe for our area’s Russian, Polish, Lithuanian and Slovakian population, plus the occasional beer or two from India and even Thailand, Chicago’s centralized location makes it a hot market for brewers and distributors.
The West Coast and the Northwest can maybe claim the greatest concentration of U.S. craft breweries, but when it comes to accessability to the greatest selection of craft, imported and macro beers, I can’t see how any other location can make the claim of being the greatest “Beer Town” in the world. That’s Chicago.

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Top 10 Saint Louis Historical Beer Events

Posted by Bob Skilnik on May 14, 2008

From May 8th to the 11th, I had the opportunity to make the beer rounds in Saint Louis, all part of a junket of beer tastings, an introduction to a to-be-released product (more on this shortly) from Anheuser-Busch, a beer/food dinner and much, much more, including this impromptu history lesson on beer and brewing in Saint Louis. Since brewing history is right up my alley, I was pleased when local beer historian Henry Herbst led a collection of U.S. beer writers through a short review of important Saint Louis beer events. This took place at the Square One Brewery, owned by Steve Neukomm, while we sampled a few beers and lunch.

We eventually left the hospitality of everyone at the brewpub, including brewing consultant (Dr.) John Witte, and headed for a private tasting of a new American ale at A-B. More coming…

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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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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 »