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Maytag Dumps Anchor Brewery

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 28, 2010

Well, enough of the “Fritz,” the pioneer of craft brewing. The investment and consulting company, The Griffin Group, has purchased the 70-man San Francisco operation. Of course, when he purchased the faded brewery in 1965 with the kind of old money that craft brewers never had the advantage of, he was lauded as a brewing visionary, but at the time, Mister Maytag didn’t even know there was a beer movement. No one did.

More at

I had a hell of a time a few years back when trying to get a simple food recipe with an Anchor beer product included for my book, Beer & Food: An American History. One of his reps wanted to flood me with so much long-winded info, history and mythos about Maytag, in addition to the recipe, that the moment that I explained that I was dealing with about 40 breweries and could only mention a nice teaser about the breweries, they stopped speaking to me.

So many other nationwide micros and regionals were very understanding in the editorial problems of writing and getting a long-winded 700-page book published, that they were very willing to send me a concise burb about their breweries and founders rather that the War & Peace approach. While Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company wrote the foreword for the book, even he kept it to a tight few paragraphs.

Quite an ego. Maytag will remain with the company as chairman emeritus.


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Carlsberg Workers Strike Over LUNCH-ONLY Beer Breaks

Posted by Bob Skilnik on April 12, 2010

“Wow…Danish brewery employees say “NO!” to rolling out the barrels over new beer break policy.

For anyone who’s been to Europe, it’s interesting to note how liberal the paradoxical role that beer, or alcohol consumption in general, has carved out in the customs and attitude of of Western Europeans while also enforcing stringent regulations on driving and blood/alcohol levels.

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Events Leading Up To National Prohibition

Posted by Bob Skilnik on December 6, 2008



Racking Room - Chicago's Columbus Brewery

Racking Room - Chicago's Columbus Brewery, 1915

Well, December 5 has come and gone, but the romanticizing of pre-Prohibition beer continues. I’ve included a chapter from Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago that explains the national events leading up to January 16, 1920 and the state of beers during this time. As you’ll read, these beers were NOT the romanticized pre-Prohibition “craft” beers that some wax nostagically about.

Congressional Actions

     While the brewers and their allies in Chicago battled with the almost fanatical strength and determination of local prohibitionists, national and international events were occurring that would take the matter of prohibition to Washington and out of the hands of local officials.

     By the end of 1916, there were 23 dry states with prohibition laws on their books. With the well financed congressional lobbying efforts of the Anti-Saloon League and the U.S.A.’s declaration of war with Germany on April 6, 1917, the campaign for national prohibition became interwoven with President Woodrow Wilson’s institution of a wartime food control bill.

     In 1917, Wayne Wheeler and the Anti-Saloon League lobbied to attach a provision to Wilson’s food bill that would make it illegal to use any food material in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages, except for scientific, medicinal or sacramental purposes. Wet Senators promptly threatened to filibuster the bill. A compromise was eventually reached that took beer and wine out of the prohibition clause of the food control bill but gave the President the discretion to later limit or stop the manufacture of beer or wine as he saw fit. The compromise bill was passed on August 10, 1917. As mandated by a rider attached to the compromised food bill, the production of distilled alcohol ceased on September 8, although sales of the remaining stock of ardent spirits could legally continue.

     Most threatening to the nation’s brewers was a Senate resolution for a constitutional prohibition amendment that had passed weeks earlier on August 1. With the passage of the resolution, the necessary time for state legislators to ratify the constitutional amendment, which had been originally limited to five years, was compromised to six, avoiding a threatened wet filibuster but giving the League more time to marshal their forces. If ratified by Congress, the liquor industry would be given one year to close and dispose of its’ bonded stock. In exchange for this one year grace period, the House of Representatives pushed through the Webb Resolution on December 17, which further extended the time for ratification of the constitutional prohibition amendment to seven years, allowing considerable time for the Anti-Saloon League to influence the decisions of the legislative representatives of the remaining wet states.

     On December 11, 1917, Wilson exercised his authority to further reduce the amount of permissible food materials used for the manufacture of beer by thirty-percent and limited it’s legal alcoholic content to a paltry 2 3/4% by weight.

     On November 21, 1918, ten days after the Armistice, Congress passed a wartime prohibition bill as a rider to the Food Stimulation Act. This bill was to take effect the following year but the Federal Food Administration used it’s authority to order the cessation of brewing nine days after the wartime prohibition bill was passed. Preparing for the cessation of brewing in Chicago, local breweries began to produce all the beer they possibly could before the cutoff date of December 1, 1918. A scarcity of grains and the resultant closing of some plants in order to economize made the challenge of this new post-war measure difficult for the industry to respond to in such a short period of time.

     Beginning on December 1, Chicago brewers used the down time after the imposed brewing stoppage to continue to bottle, keg and sell whatever stock was still on hand. There was also a rotated layoff of the 7,500 employed by the local industry. In this manner, the local brewers hoped that they would be able to quickly recommence the brewing of beer if given the President’s approval. With the brewing moratorium in effect and no hope for a quick resumption of production, Chicago Brewers’ Association President William Legner estimated that the country’s dwindling supply of beer would run out by May 1, 1919.

The German Brewers And World War I

     The German and German-American brewers were not prepared to challenge the dictates of Washington after the declaration of war against Germany. Anti-German hysteria had already gripped Chicago, not only with the nodding approval of the local Anti-Saloon League, but also because of the questionable actions of some German-American organizations. When hostilities in Europe commenced in 1914, the United States Brewers’ Association began funneling money to the National German-American Alliance, headquartered in Chicago. But as the U.S. moved from a neutral to a more proactive stance, the USBA continued to maintain their fraternal ties with pro-German organizations. The Alliance used the funds, in part, to send out press releases that were pro-German in tone.

Author Bob Skilnik Discussing Beer On Fox

Author discussing beer on Fox News Channel

     As public opinion turned against “hyphenated Americans,”  including the highly visible German-American brewers, Mayor Thompson, at the time courting the favor of Chicago’s German-American voters, caused additional problems for the local German community. His refusal to support the early national Liberty Loan efforts or to assume the role of local draft chairman, infuriated many patriotic Chicagoans and earned him the name of “Kaiser Bill”.  In an effort to calm down some of the local anti-German bias and prove their loyalty to the U.S., Chicago brewers and members of affiliated trades and businesses later subscribed about $1,400,000 to the Fourth Liberty Loan campaign. Through the efforts of the Manufacturers’ and Dealers Association of Chicago, brewers distributed several hundred thousand copies of the Appeal by American Brewers to the American People, which attempted to repudiate charges that the brewers were pro-German. These efforts proved ineffectual as wartime Chicago developed a siege mentality.

     In late 1918, A. Mitchell Palmer, who held the federal position of Custodian of Alien Property, began an investigation of the Schoenhofen Brewery and its owners because of the family’s close ties to friends and relatives in Germany. The World War I Office of Alien Property Custodian had been created by an Executive Order on October 12, 1917. The Trading With The Enemy Act of October 6, 1917, had already authorized Palmer to assume control and dispose of enemy owned property in the United States. Instigated by the Anti-Saloon League’s Wayne Wheeler, federal agents seized the corporate and trust files of the brewery. Title to the brewery property was then placed in the control of the federal government in order to prevent the possible use of the company assets by enemy aliens against the United States. German owners of breweries throughout the U.S. suffered similar federal actions. Palmer eventually controlled $506 million of German owned trusts, including the Schoenhofen’s. Ironically, Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, whose failed attempt to kill Hitler at his Wolf’s Lair in Eastern Prussia in 1944 would lead to his own death, was purported to have been a descendant of Peter Schoenhofen, founder of the Chicago brewery.

Ratification Of The Eighteenth Amendment

     After appeals to the beer drinking public and failed legislative efforts by the brewers to resume brewing, the fate of the drink industry was sealed on January 16, 1919, with the shockingly quick ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment  by the constitutionally required thirty-sixth state. One year later, the entire country would fall under National Prohibition. The Illinois Legislature had already followed suit with twenty-eight other dry states and ratified the National Prohibition Amendment,  the Senate on January 8, with a vote of 30 to 15, the House by a vote of 84 to 66 on January 14.

     But Springfield was not Chicago. Provisions of the wartime prohibition bill, passed in 1918, pushed the last date for the legal retail sale of beer and liquor further back to June 30, 1919. Brewers, distillers and saloonkeepers still held out hope that President Wilson would revoke the wartime prohibition bill and give them until January of 1920 to put their affairs in order, as agreed upon in the Eighteenth Amendment. The Armistice had been signed on November 11, 1918; as far as the brewers were concerned, the wartime prohibition bill was void. Prohibitionists countered that the war could not be considered over until demobilization of the European Expeditionary Forces was complete, a process that could last six months or more.

     In Chicago, Deputy City Collector George F. Lohman estimated that the abrupt loss in city revenue from brewery and saloon licensing and permit fees would exceed $8,000,000 per year should the saloons be forced to close. He also took note of the additional loss to real estate owners of useless saloon sites after the closings, speculating that the financial blow to them would be ten times greater than the loss to the city from liquor license fees. It was a loss that would heavily impact local brewers since they owned a significant portion of the Chicago saloons.

     A local Anti-Salooner official naively suggested that raising taxes to cover the $8,000,000 revenue deficit could easily be avoided by simply reducing expenses in all city departments. A Chicago Tribune  editorial, however, demanded a quick revision of taxes to make up the huge deficit. Acknowledging the cost of politics in Chicago and a need for municipal belt tightening, the paper also suggested a realistic percentage of the needed money be allocated for the waste of funds that flowed through Mayor Thompson’s executive departments.

1919 Referendum

      While brewers’ and distillers’ representatives continued to challenge the wartime prohibition bill and the National Prohibition Amendment in Washington, stocks of beer in Chicago were becoming scarce. By February of 1919, barrel prices had risen to $17, reflecting the dwindling supply.

     With prohibition fever sweeping the nation, Anti-Saloon and Chicago Dry Federation forces successfully managed to include the issue of making Chicago a possible dry territory on the April mayoral ticket, months before National Prohibition would take effect. It had been an uphill battle for dry forces to include such a symbolic issue for city-wide vote, culminating with a ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court that the question had to be included in the April, 1919 election. But the results of the referendum clearly demonstrated the present and future attitude of a majority of Chicagoans and their insistence on the right to drink. Wets won the issue by a majority of 247,228 votes, 266,529 men and 124,731 women voting against Chicago prohibition. Had there been a dry victory, local saloons would have been compelled to close their doors on May 1, in compliance with Illinois state law, fostered by local option.

Chicago Wet And Dry Vote By Wards For 1919

  Ward               Dry                    Wet                       Wet

                        Votes                 Votes                    Majority

   1                   1,024                  7,792                    6,768

   2                   3,188                12,826                    9,638

   3                   6,087                11,980                    5,893      

                           4                      873               13,907                    2,806

                           5                   2,203                  9,637                    7,434

                           6                   9,791               12,597                    2,806

                           7                 10,693               13,004                    2,311

                           8                   3,738                 8,329                     4,591

                           9                   4,836                 7,784                     2,948

                         10                     405                  7,104                     6,699

                         11                     857                  8,858                     8,001

                         12                  1,105                10,488                     9,383

                         13                10,472                13,730                     3,258

                         14                  3,043                10,448                     7,405

                         15                  2,486                11,221                     8,735

                         16                     509                  6,966                     6,457

                         17                     568                  4,490                     3,922

                         18                  2,949                  9,496                     6,547

                         19                     588                  5,247                     4,689

                         20                     624                  4,685                     4,061

                         21                  4,104                  9,784                     5,680

                         22                     728                  6,771                     6,043

                         23                  5,131                12,370                     7,239

                         24                  2,111                11,811                     9,700

                         25                12,563                16,576                     4,013

                         26                  6,826                16,288                     9,462

                         27                  8,714                19,865                   11,151

                         28                  3,531                10,651                    7,120

                         29                  3,026                13,350                  10,324

                         30                  2,094                  9,033                    6,939

                         31                  4,979                12,228                    7,249

                         32                10,145                15,160                    5,015

                         33                  9,578                17,011                    7,433

                         34                  2,280                17,141                  14,679

                         35                  6,943                18,622                  11,679

                                             _____                 _____                   _____

                        Totals        114,032               391,260                247,228[xi]


     “There will be no let up until fanaticism has been completely overthrown,” vowed William Fisher, secretary of the wet Trades Union Liberty League as he reviewed the overwhelming election results. “This is the message Chicago sends to Congress.”

     Congress, however, had its own agenda, something that brewers’ attorney Levy Mayer ruefully pointed out. Although the referendum had deflected the local option move to make Chicago a dry territory months before National Prohibition, its results could not stop its inevitability. Passage of the Eighteenth Amendment had been through legislative action, not by a popular mandate. “Members of the legislature and congress…have without a direct vote of the people, undertaken to amend the constitution and say to more than 100,000,000 people that they shall not drink malt, vinous or spirituous beverages of any kind, and that possession of such beverages makes their possessors felons.”  Mayer then threw down this challenge to the electorate. “ I can stand it if the rest of the American people can.”

     Buoyed by the results of the referendum vote and on the advice of legal counsel, Chicago brewers defiantly restarted the brewing of 2.75 % beer on May 1, following the lead of New York brewers. At this point, low alcohol small  beer was better than no beer.

     Hoping to influence President Wilson’s decision on extending the wartime prohibition bill’s effective date of July 1, 1919, the Chicago City Council adopted the following resolution and left no doubt as to its stance on National Prohibition;

     Whereas, In the present day of democracy the majority rules, and the city has by a vote of 300,000 at the last general election declared against a dry Chicago; and

     Whereas, If demobilization is not complete before July 1 the country will go dry by presidential decree, which will, when effective, mean a property damage in Chicago of about $15,000,000, a loss of business of $25,000,000 and inability of the administration to meet the pay-roll of the police and firemen; therefore

     Be it resolved by the City Council that we petition the United States Senate, Congress and President Wilson to declare the army of the United States demobilized by July 1, 1919.”

     Hopefully, if Wilson acceded to the City Council’s petition and to similar demands from other municipalities that feared that a reliable cash cow was prematurely drying up, it would give local governments six more months to draw additional revenues from the local breweries and their affiliated saloons and give them a little more time to get their financial houses in order. The absoluteness of National Prohibition would still be six months away, not scheduled to take effect until January 16, 1920, but time was running short. Wilson, however, let the wartime prohibition bill and the last date for the retail sale of alcoholic beverages come into law on July 1, 1919. He offered one ray of hope to the drink interests when he stated that when “demobilization is terminated, my power to act without congressional action will be exercised.”  With this ambiguous statement by Wilson of a possible short reprieve, there were predictions that saloons in states that were still wet might be back in operation by the end of August. Local brewer association president William G. Legner was wary, however, of unwarranted enthusiasm concerning the possible reopening of saloons.

Chicago Reacts To The Wartime Prohibition Bill

     In Chicago, attitudes towards the up coming closing date of city saloons proved defiant, not surprising after the results of the April election. Over the back bars of many of the saloons were signs declaring, “THIS SALOON WILL BE OPEN FOR BUSINESS AFTER JULY 1.”  Rumors abounded that some local brewers were so confident that the ban would be lifted before July 1, that they were not only brewing beer, despite the restrictions, but were once again brewing full strength brew.

     When informed that there were strong indications that some Chicago saloons would remain open after July 1, United States District Attorney Charles F. Clyne countered that he would be forced to prosecute any violators. It was pointedly noted that Police Chief Garrity had 5000 policemen at his disposal for enforcement of the closings. As the deadline date approached, however, Garrity was away in New York. Acting as chief in Garrity’s absence, First Deputy General Superintendent of Police, John M. Alcock startled everyone by declaring that “…after midnight it is a federal question (the enforcement of saloon closings),”  and indicated a reluctance to act.

     In the seedier areas around Chicago’s barrel houses,  the crowds of bums and hoboes grew unusually large as saloonkeepers tried to unload their stock. Huge schooners of beer dropped back to a nickel, shots of whisky from ten to twenty cents, depending on the quality. Authorities predicted a marked increase in the number of drunks who would probably apply for the cure at the healing Bridewell, Washingtonian and Keeley Institutes when the wartime prohibition law took effect.

     A last minute price war took place in saloons throughout the city as retailers dumped stock. “Only two days more to shop-do your shopping now!”  was a commonly-themed advertisement seen in many of the saloon windows as the deadline approached. A majority of dealers were staying open well past the 1 A.M. closing time, hoping to squeeze out the last bit of change from thirsty Chicagoans. Travelling salesmen, their satchels loaded with booze, scurried through the neighborhoods trying to entice potential customers of the necessity of buying their products now.

     For the would be home brewer, small cans of Hopfen und Malz Extrakt  were popping up for sale in delis and food stores. By adding water and a packet of yeast to the malted extract, the beer drinker was promised a stimulating malt beverage of at least 5% alcohol in five to seven days.

     First Ward Alderman Michael Kenna’s Workingmen’s Exchange mockingly announced a series of recitations and songs on June 30 to mark the passing of John Barleycorn, including “The Old Man’s Drunk Again”  and “Father, Dear Father, Come Home With Me Now.”  At the Hamilton Club, a dinner dance was to be held until midnight when the body of the late John Barleycorn would be brought in by pallbearers for a solemn, but tongue-in-cheek wake. Preparations in hotels, cafes and saloons throughout the city were being made, proprietors predicting record business. When some establishments still threatened to stay open after midnight, July 1, Alderman Anton J. Cermak of the United Societies warned that those who defied the law would endanger any chance of reopening if President Wilson finally declared the Army demobilized and allowed the bars to reopen.

Good Bye To Beer


     On June 30, 1919, Chicagoans celebrated like never before. Whisky and some of the more exotic mixed drinks seemed to be the drinks of choice. The reason for this was simple; Cermak declared that Chicago saloons had run out of real beer before June 30. “Two days before June 30, the last available barrel of real beer had gone from the breweries. There wasn’t a beer jag in town, unless some youngster had a make believe.”[xxii]  If Cermak was correct in his sobering assessment, it would have been the second time since the hot summer of 1854 that Chicago had run out of beer. The Green Mill Garden, the Marigold Room, the Sheridan Inn and the Rainbow enjoyed record business. On the South Side, the De Luxe, the Entertainers and the Elite, were reported to be open well past midnight. An estimate that over $1,500,000 had been spent on beer and booze caused one observer of Chicago’s greatest wassailing occasion to suggest that the city motto be changed from “I Will” to “I Swill.”

The Illinois Search And Seizure Act

     With a collective hangover of tens of thousands, the city slowly awoke the next day to learn that United States Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer had announced the night before that the manufacture and sale of beer with 2 3/4% alcohol could continue until the federal courts ruled on whether or not such beer was legally intoxicating. Recent test cases in New York had resulted in a decision to question what amount of alcohol in beer could be legally considered intoxicating. “We will proceed in an orderly fashion to establish whether intoxicating beverages proscribed by the law include those having less than 2 3/4% per cent alcohol,”  advised Palmer. Until the Supreme Court ruled on a legal definition of intoxicating or until January 16, 1920, 2 3/4% beer could continue to be sold in those states that did not have dry laws on their books. Impulsively acting on Palmer’s ruling, Illinois Attorney General Edward J. Brundage initially issued a statement that the sale of beer and wine with 2 3/4% alcohol could continue in Illinois until National Prohibition took effect on January 16, 1920. In accordance with these opinions, the Chicago City Council quickly passed an ordinance authorizing the issuance of temporary sixty-day liquor licenses, a move introduced by Alderman Cermak. The licenses now sold for $50 a month instead of the old cost of $83, which would have allowed the sale of hard alcohol.

     Later that day, City Corporation Counsel Samuel A. Ettelson conferred with Attorney General Brundage on Palmer’s ruling. As a result of their meeting, despite no federal court rulings on the definition of what amount of alcohol in beer was legally considered intoxicating, Police Chief Garrity was instructed to arrest anyone who attempted to sell any beverage that contained more than one-half of 1 % of alcohol. Brundage now ruled that “The search and seizure act of the state of Illinois, in force and effect after July 1, 1919, defines intoxicating liquor or liquids as including all distilled spirituous, vinous, fermented, or malt liquors which contain more than one-half of 1 percent by volume of alcohol, and all alcoholic liquids, compounds, and preparations, whether proprietary, patented, or not, which are portable and are capable of or suitable for being used as a beverage.”

     When reporters questioned Brundage on his reversed decision, he claimed that he had been earlier misinformed. “I was called on the telephone at my home and informed that the government had modified its provisions of the wartime prohibition act to permit sale of light beverages containing no more than 2 3/4 per cent of alcohol. I said that if this were true, it would be permissible under the Illinois law to sell such beverages here. When the full details of the federal government’s action were shown to me I immediately issued the new statement regarding the search and seizure law, which effectually prohibits the sale of anything containing more than one half of one percent of alcohol.”

     With the enforcement of state law versus a yet established federal opinion, the death knoll for beer in Chicago was sounded at 6:30 P.M. July 1, 1919.

     Some saloons and clubs openly defied the closing mandate. It was later reported that fanatical prohibitionist Reverend Arthur Burrage Farwell of the Chicago Law and Order League and his team of vigilant investigators had found violations of the 12 o’clock closing law on June 30. Farwell also disclosed that whiskey was seen purchased at the Dorchester at 67th and Dorchester and at the Tavern, located at 58th and State. The Reverend stayed long enough at these locations to additionally note in his report that women in all stages of undress were seen in both places.

Local Brewers Go On The Offensive

     After the closings, the Chicago Brewers’ Association passed a resolution to continue to challenge not only the wartime prohibition bill but to also challenge the National Prohibition Act by hastening any test cases through the courts. What they needed was a brewer willing to act as a “victim”  for a test case on the legality of manufacturing 2 3/4% beer. The procedural events leading up to a ruling had already been mapped out by the brewers and their attorneys. Industry leaders anticipated that an expected federal suit would charge a consenting brewer with a violation of the food conservation act and the selling of an intoxicating beverage. After arrest, the association’s plan called for the brewer to plead guilty and pay the fine.

     On July 14, a suit was filed by District Attorney Clyne against the Stenson Brewing Company. It was charged that the brewery “did use grains and cereals in the manufacture and production of beer for beverage purposes containing as much as one-half of one percent alcoholic content by both weight and volume…”  and sold the beer on July 2 to Timothy King, a saloonkeeper at 3153 Archer Avenue. Six counts were included in the suit, three for the sale of the beer and three concerning the manufacture of the beer. The Stenson brothers abruptly changed their original strategy of pleading guilty and instead argued that they were innocent of the charges, stating that the November 21, 1918 wartime prohibition bill “relates only to beer which is in fact intoxicating”  and that the information used in the charges “fails to allege that the beer made or sold was in fact intoxicating.”  They also argued that the wartime prohibition bill should be construed as unconstitutional and void since it was a wartime measure and that at the time of the manufacture and sale of their beer “No war affecting the United States was in progress.”

     Attorney Clyne confirmed that a dozen more suits would soon be filed against the North American Brewing Company, the Hoffman Brewing Company and the Primalt Products Company, the old Independent Brewing Association. The Stenson case was the first suit of it’s kind in the United States since a criminal statute was brought into question. Both Levy Mayer, special counsel of the Chicago Brewers’ Association, and Attorney Clyne worked together on bringing the test case to the District Court and eventually to the Supreme Court, hoping to force the federal court to arrive at a definitive ruling of what percentage of alcohol was to be considered intoxicating. A demurrer filed on July 21 by attorneys for the brewers once again argued that the wartime prohibition bill was void since it was passed as a war measure, the war now over, and that the law did not fix the alcoholic content which beer might contain.

     All arguments and legal challenges by brewery industry and legal representatives were ended with the passage of the Volstead Act on October 27, 1919. The Act clarified prohibition enforcement procedures and mandated a limit of 0.5 percent alcohol of any and all drink as the baseline standard for intoxicating beverages. In doing so, the Volstead Act quashed the final question of legality for National Prohibition.

Early Effects Of No Beer In Chicago

     Of the forty-three city breweries operating before July 1, only sixteen had renewed their brewing licenses. It had been expected that most of the remaining twenty-seven breweries would have applied for license extensions to produce 2 ¾% beer. But now, just days into the end of the drink trade in Chicago, saloonkeepers were serving near beer, pop or numerous other non-alcoholic drinks such as Old Crowe Flavor.  Of the 120 bars in the Loop, all but 16 remained open, waiting hopefully for President Wilson to declare the Army demobilized and allow a return to a whisky and real beer business. But as the saloonkeepers and brewers waited for a sign from Washington, the early effects of the state mandated search and seizure law began to cascade throughout the restaurant and hotel industry. Waiters at the downtown hotels and clubs started to bemoan their now sober customers. “I got a $1.50 in tips today,”  complained one frustrated waiter at Vogelsang’s Restaurant. “Before July 1, it was a poor day when I didn’t clean up $8 to $10 in tips.”  A Hotel Sherman waiter echoed his comrade’s sentiment. “The firewater sure did lubricate a man’s pocketbook. How’s a man gonna get tips on lemonade?”  he asked.

     Others realized the futility of it all; whether beer and booze came back briefly next week or next month, National Prohibition was just around the corner. At the famous De Jonghe’s, a soda fountain was soon installed. Workers at the Palmer House bar were following suit, converting the business into a soda fountain emporium.

     In less than a week after the state search and seizure law had taken effect in Chicago, saloon owners started to complain of poor business. One drink or two of near beer or some non-alcoholic concoction was the limit for regulars whom continued to visit their old drinking haunts simply out of habit. But the habit was starting to fade. John Dunne, a saloonkeeper near the Criminal Courts building, gave all his bartenders the day off for the Fourth of July. By noon, manning the bar by himself, he sold one bottle of soda on a day that business customarily boomed. At 12:10, Dunne had enough and closed for the day. Bartenders throughout the city complained that customers didn’t loiter like they did before. After the usual rush at lunch and after work, the once busy bars were quickly deserted as near beer and soda pop failed to satisfy the cravings of patrons for something more stimulating. Once thriving saloons lay deserted save for the empty beer kegs piled next to the bar. Wooden cases still holding bottles drained of their contents and now stacked for disposal beckoned their old customers through dirty saloon windows to enjoy “A Case Of Good Judgement”,  but to no avail.  

     Chicagoans had given the state imposed Search and Seizure Act less than one week before turning in their verdicts; prohibition, in a state or federal form, was not for them. There were those who quietly observed the reactions of thirsty Chicagoans with marked interest and heard their grumblings of “no whiskey”  and “near beer”  and watched the frustration and disappointment of desperate saloon owners as their livelihoods slowly collapsed. They realized that the prohibition of beer and strong drink would never satisfy the needs of a population accustomed to serious libations.

     One such observer was Johnny Torrio. 

Signed and personalized copies of Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago are available through  Amazon. Click on the “New” link, next to the “Used” link. I have brand new copies availble for $9.90 as Christmas stocking-stuffers.

For a look at the evolution of American Beer, pick up this Christmas gift,
Beer & Food: An American History. 

Intro By Jim Koch, Founder Of The Boston Beer Company, Makers Of Samuel Adams Beers

Intro By Jim Koch, Founder Of The Boston Beer Company, Makers Of Samuel Adams Beers



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Good Times Or Bad – It’s All About The Beer!

Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 30, 2008

Everytime there’s an economic bump or slump, a reporter gets the brilliant idea of talking to some beer marketing personnel about beer sales and how a downturn will affect beer sales. Usually the arguments contradict each other, with one view being that premium or super-premium beers will fall and we’ll all run out and start stocking up on 30-pack suitcases of Busch Ice…they other being that the super-premiums will keep selling, maybe not with the kind of “gusto” you might see in times of prosperity, but beer drinkers will still buy their favorite brands with no compromising. I always have the feeling, however, that at least one side is bloviating while trying to justify why he or she’s latest “brilliant” ad campaign isn’t working.

I received an e-mail from a brewer down in New Zealand, and while it’s the other side of the world as far as I’m concerned, living outside of Chicago, it takes the experiences of beer drinkers so many miles away to prove a point that I’ve always known; rich or poor, I’ll be drinking what I always drink. It’s not like I’m being forced to decide whether or not I should buy a Ford Taurus or a new and tricked-out 4-door Mercedes.

“While people may think twice about large purchases like cars and white goods, affordable luxuries like premium beer tend to remain popular,” notes a spokesman from Lion Nathan, proving my analogy above.

We’re talking about beer.

From The Courier-Mail;

  • Beer sales thrive in downturns
  • Consumption even up on 1987’s Black Monday
  • Sales not subject to sudden movements

IF your shattered share portfolio has left you a little dispirited, here’s an investment opportunity almost guaranteed to produce solid returns in the bleak months ahead – beer.

A 30-year study of Australian beer sales tracked against the Westpac Consumer Confidence Survey has unearthed compelling evidence beer sales don’t merely survive recessions, they thrive on them.

The graph, which has been used by the industry for investor presentations in recent months, shows beer sales starting in January 1975 gliding effortlessly above the turbulence of wages decline in the late 1970s, the recession of the early 1990s and the Asian meltdown of 1998.

In fact, soon after the Black Monday share market collapse of October 1987, the beer graph gently rises, indicating an increase in consumption lasting about five years.

It’s only after the unpleasant business of the recession and Gulf War-inspired oil spikes is complete that the graph returns to its gentle, if slightly downward trajectory.

Foster’s brewers confirm sale figures from as late as September this year show beer drinkers appear blissfully unaware the globe is in the grasp of a once-in-a-100-year financial catastrophe.


And thanks to;
Paddy Sweeney
CEO Westcoast Brewing Ltd

who has also added nutritional information about his beers in my latest book, “Does My Butt Look Big In This Beer?” I have to also remark here that it’s a bit bewildering that I can get the cooperation of someone I don’t know who owns a brewery in New Zealand and who was so helpful in providing me with information for my upcoming book. In the meantime, some of the bigger micro and regional breweries refuse to even answer my e-mails or the form boxes on their own websites that say something like “Ask The Brewer!” but won’t answer my questions. Why put an “Ask The Brewer” section on your site if you refuse to answer a simple question or two.

On the other hand, some of the brewers who gave me a hard time a few years ago when I was writing “The Low Carb Bartender” have come around and have been wonderfully cooperative. To all of them, I tip my hat, but for rest of them, remember this; when the e-mails start coming in to me when the book comes online and readers ask why I don’t have the information about your brewery and its beers – their favorite beers – I’ll simply tell them that you apparently don’t care about what they’re looking for in a beer and that there are hundreds of other breweries who were wonderfully cooperative.

Why not try one of their beers? They care.

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What Is Anheuser-Busch Smoking?

Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 27, 2008

A-B has Ira Glass hawking Budweiser American Ale. IRA GLASS.

A-B thinks that this NPR snob represents the typical Bud American Ale drinker?

A few years ago, A-B was trying to figure out who the market was for Bud Select, a low-calorie/low-carb beer that A-B went out of its way not to promote these attributes. The hired some “rap artist” for a $2 mil contract, dressed up like a blinged-up pimp while exciting some pimped-out car that was worth more money than every house on my block. 2 million freaking dollars. Now if someone can find me 2 black beer drinkers who drink (1) A Bud product and (2) A low calorie/carb A-B beer, you’ll be looking for the rest of your life.

Here it is, a few year laters. Right now, they’re still trying to figure out the beer’s market. The last commercial I saw was a bunch of WASP with their sweaters tied around their necks, and I think they were playing golf. This time we were told that the beer had a rich, bold taste. That commercial too was buried about a month later. I imagine the next attempt at this beer being promoted again before they simply dump the rest of it in their buffalo wing sauce, will be a group of starving North Koreans huddling by the only working light bulb in their village. Perhaps they’ll sing songs about the “Great Leader” while commenting on the rich, bold tatste of such a low-calorie/carb beer.

Please A-B, call me. I’ll do a focus group for you for thousands less and I’ll tell you this: Black and overpaid hip-hop artist exiting a million dollar car and dressed up like a walking South African diamond mine will not make this middle-aged white guy go out and buy a beer that is so poorly positioned.

If you want to sell Bud American Ale, send me a case and $10,000 and I’ll sell more beer in a week than Ira Glass will sell during the High Holy Days. Ira Glass? This guy suckles from the PBS teats of the American taxpayer but he represents the demographic that A-B wants to drink Budweiser American Ale? Ira Glass? Oh wait…Wally Cox is dead.

Fire these PR people. They’re laughable. Or simply spray some cold water on the blouses of non-bra wearing and well-endowed blondes while swigging down Select. I could save A-B millions and ready some dry towels for the girls…or maybe not.

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Bitch Creek ESB Takes GABF Silver Medal in the American Brown Ale Category

Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 22, 2008




430 Old Jackson Hole Highway    Victor, ID  83455

208.787.9000 (phone)    208.787.4114 (fax)



Contact: Chuck Nowicki, National Sales Manager

(208) 787-9000


October 17, 2008




VICTOR, ID – In its 20th year, Grand Teton Brewing Company, known throughout the West for their exceptional microbrews, has won another medal with their legendary Bitch Creek ESB. At this year’s prestigious Great American Beer Festival, Bitch Creek found itself in familiar territory, once again standing on the podium, this time with a silver medal in the American Brown Ale category.


Over the last few years, Bitch Creek ESB has become dominant at the highest level of beer competitions.  This spring it won a medal at the World Beer Cup in only its 2nd appearance.  During this summer’s North American Beer Awards, it repeated last year’s Gold Medal performance. This makes for five medals in five years at the NABA.  At the Great American Beer Festival, this year’s win represents four medals in five years, including two Gold Medals. To win consistently at this level requires a truly superior brew.


Bitch Creek ESB perfectly balances big malt sweetness and robust hop flavor for a full-bodied, satisfying mahogany ale.  Like the creek for which it’s named, Bitch Creek ESB is complex, full of character and not for the timid.


The success of Bitch Creek has not gone unnoticed.  Record numbers of beer drinkers have been calling, visiting and emailing the brewery wanting more distribution.  Many have gotten their wish fulfilled this year!  This summer alone Grand Teton Brewing Co. has added distributors in New York, Idaho, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Missouri and Kansas. Grand Teton Brewing has even released a Double Bitch Creek in its renowned Cellar Reserve Series of beers.


Celebrating 20 years this year, Grand Teton Brewing Company was founded in 1988 as the first modern “micro” brewery in the state of Wyoming.  Today, founder Charlie Otto and his company are in the top 100 craft breweries in North America.  Premium microbrews include the award-winning Bitch Creek ESB, Sweetgrass IPA, Workhorse Wheat and the favorites of the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, Old Faithful Ale (pale golden), Au Naturale (organic blonde ale) and Teton Ale (amber).  From their production facility in Victor, Idaho, Grand Teton Brewing Company beers are hand-crafted from only the finest ingredients, including locally-grown grains and pure Teton mountain spring water.  GTBC is a green company utilizing bio-diesel and feeding local farmer’s cattle with spent grain from the brew kettle.  Discriminating beer drinkers can find their favorite GTBC brews on tap and in bottles throughout Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Washington and Oregon, with limited distribution in New York and Minnesota!








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Make Mine A Melamine!

Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 3, 2008

Europe’s going through another melamine scare, this time in bakery goods, Lotte Koala biscuits. Two weeks ago it was Cadbury Chocolates made and sold in Europe. Before that it was baby formula. Before that it was dog food.

The chemical melamine appears to be a cheap way of working around required protein content in foods. Add some, save on the use of the higher cost of protein additives, make a buck, sit back and watch people and pets die.

It’s amazing…and it’s coming from China.

Now I’ve consumed my fair share of Tsingtao beer, a venerable Chinese brew and the number one branded consumer product exported from China. It’s been in the States since 1972.

But no longer. There’s plenty of beers out there to choose from. In my opinion, why take a chance? I’ve thrown out every food product made in China; I won’t buy fish or shrimp from China. I carefully check all my dogs’ foods and treats. If they say “Distributed in the U.S. by the XYZ Company,” I look a little further to see where it was made. More often than not, dog treats, and even toys, are made in China.

Do what you want, but don’t make mine A Melamine.

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Nutritional Info For Sam Adams Oktoberfest Beer

Posted by Bob Skilnik on September 30, 2008

Boston Beer/Samuel Adams  Octoberfest Beer    12 oz   18.72  carbs  180  calories    05.40 abv 

COMING THIS FALL:                                  Does My Butt Look Big In This Beer?     Boston Beer's Sam Adams Oktoberfest Beer

                              Nutritional Values of Over 1,500 Worldwide Beers

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Nutritional Info For Knappstein Reserve Lager (AU)

Posted by Bob Skilnik on September 29, 2008

Knappstein Reserve Lager     12 oz         15.27 carbs       174 calories      05.60 abv   

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‘Insensitive’ Beer Ad Featuring Barbecued Stag Scrapped

Posted by Bob Skilnik on September 29, 2008

Lion Nathan has been forced to scrap a series of TV commercials to launch a “green” beer after it emerged that a deer had been killed so it could be filmed on a barbecue for final scenes in the ads. After an internal investigation the brewery company found that its production company, Goodoil, had failed to “source the deer appropriately”, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Ironically, a stag is the brand logo of Lion’s bestselling beer, Toohey’s New. The production crew filming in the South Island two weeks ago decided it would be easier and cheaper to select a beast for slaughter at a local deer farm, rather than commission a model or a computer-generated image.

“Lion Nathan is absolutely committed to the ethical treatment of animals, and despite the considerable costs involved in making the advertisement, we don’t intend to air it.” it said in a statement.

Now pass me another beer.

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Does My Butt Look Big In This Beer?

Posted by Bob Skilnik on September 11, 2008

Bob Skilnik

Bob Skilnik


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 cereal 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 your favorite stout, porter, bock, wheat beer or even a simple American-style pilsner beer.


But no longer. Whether you’re counting calories, carbs or even Weight Watchers® Points®, here’s the nutritional information for over 1,800 worldwide beers that you can enjoy in moderation!

Moderation, not deprivation
Also by Bob Skilnik


The Low-Carb Bartender:
Carb Counts For Beer, Wine, Mixed Drinks And More


The Drink Beer, Get Thin Diet:
A Low-Carbohydrate Approach


101 Ways To Cut Fats And Carbs










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Flying Dog GonzoFest—September 13!!

Posted by Bob Skilnik on September 2, 2008

Flying Dog Brewery’s Gonzofest
Flying Dog Brewery’s Gonzofest




GonzoFest joins forces with Hard Times Café Chili Cook-Off on September 13


Frederick, MD – August 19, 2008 – Flying Dog Brewery announces GonzoFest 2008 to occur on September 13 at the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The annual throwdown will feature live music and host the Hard Times Café Chili Cook-Off for the Maryland State Chili Cook-Off Championship. 

In addition to the eclectic sounds of four different bands and the taste of competition caliber chili, attendees can enjoy a variety of Flying Dog beer and tours of the Flying Dog brewery.

A complementary souvenir mug and beer samples are included in the price of admission. 

“GonzoFest is really a representation of Flying Dog’s core values which are “purposeful, provocative irreverence,” explains Neal Stewart, director of marketing for Flying Dog.”  This year’s event will definitely be provocatively irreverent with tons of live music and samples of our award-winning beers. But it will also be purposeful with a portion of the proceeds going to the Heartly House which serves Frederick County residents who have been impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.”

Admission to GonzoFest is $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For more information, visit or call 301-694-7899.


About Flying Dog

Flying Dog is Denver’s largest brewery and the second largest craft brewery in the state of Colorado. Their award-winning “litter of ales” are available in 45 states. The Brewery is located at 4607 Wedgewood Blvd., just off English Muffin Way and MD Hwy 85.  Flying Dog’s core values of “purposeful, provocative and irreverent” flow through the veins of the brewery’s founding owners, George Stranahan and Richard McIntyre.  George and Richard were friends with the “Gonzo Journalist,” Hunter S. Thompson who coined the brand’s tagline “Good People Drink Good Beer” and with the “Gonzo Artist,” Ralph Steadman, who illustrates the brand’s packaging.  For more information, log on to



Contact:  Neal Stewart, Director of Marketing

Flying Dog Brewery


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Narcocorridos Beer

Posted by Bob Skilnik on September 1, 2008

"We Don't Need No Stinking Badges!"From the Chicago Sun-Times:

“GUADALAJARA, Mexico – A new beer named after the ‘‘patron saint’’ of drug traffickers is brewing up controversy in Mexico, where the government is locked in a bloody battle against drug gangs.

Malverde Beer is named after Jesus Malverde, a Robin Hood-style figure who is revered by drug smugglers in the western Mexico state of Sinaloa. It debuted in April and has been spreading to bars around western Mexico. Minerva Brewery plans to sell it in the United States, too.”

Much More Here

More From The AP

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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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Republican Convention Beers

Posted by Bob Skilnik on August 11, 2008

Flat Earth Brewing's Convention Ale

Flat Earth Brewing's Convention Ale

In the interest of being fair & balanced (cough, cough), here’s a link to what some brewers in the  Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area will be brewing up for the Republican conventioneers.

Contrary to reports, there will be no McCain’s Older Than Dirt aged barleywine available.

Dems beer line-up here.

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Wheat Beer Peach Cobbler

Posted by Bob Skilnik on June 13, 2008

Wheat Beer Peach Cobbler
Serves 10

1 bottle (12 oz) Honey Wheat Beer, or any Fruit-brewed Wheat Beer
1 TBLS butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
3 TBLS cornstarch
½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
4 bags (1 lb each) frozen peaches, or 4 pounds fresh sliced peaches
2 cans (7.5 oz each) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (20 biscuits)
¼ cup milk
1/3 cup sugar

Pour Honey Wheat Beer into soup pot or other large pot; bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 5 minutes, or until reduced to ¾ cup. Turn off heat and let reduction cool completely.

With butter, generously grease a 3-quart baking dish (9 ½ x 11 inches). Preheat oven to 450 F.

Add ¾ cup sugar, light brown sugar, cornstarch and five-spice powder to beer reduction; stir until sugars dissolve. Stir in frozen peaches and toss. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce to medium-low heat. Simmer mixture about 8 minutes, tossing peaches several times, until juices thicken and peaches are hot.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Arrange 20 biscuits on top of hot peach mixture. Brush tops of biscuits with milk; sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake in oven 15 minutes, or until biscuits are puffed and golden brown and peach mixture is bubbling. Cool on wire rack 15 minutes before serving.

National Beer Wholesalers Association

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PBR Laiola Spicy Beer

Posted by Bob Skilnik on June 12, 2008

The Pabst Blue Ribbon Chelada

Makes 1 drink

Created for a meaningless romance by bartender Ryan Schooly of Laiola in San Francisco.

  • — Kosher salt
  • — Juice of 1 lime + 2 lime wedges
  • 1 tablespoon Red Chile Pepper Vinegar (see Note)
  • 8 ounces Pabst (or Bud if you’re feeling highbrow. In that case, pour the other 4 ounces on the curb for the St. Louis homeys. Looks like InBev will close the deal on them.)

Instructions: Spread a layer of kosher salt onto a plate. Using a lime wedge, wet the rim of a pint glass. Dip the wet rim into the kosher salt, coating the rim.

Fill the glass halfway with ice cubes and add the lime juice, vinegar and beer. Garnish with the other lime wedge.

Note: To make Red Chile Pepper Vinegar, combine a handful of dried chiles (arbols, anchos or even red chile flakes) with a liter of unseasoned rice wine vinegar in a saucepan. Cover and heat until it’s just about to boil. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for 1 hour. Strain and discard the chiles. Store in the refrigerator.

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Budweiser American Ale Tasting

Posted by Bob Skilnik on May 14, 2008

Budweiser American Ale, Dry-Hopped With Cascade Hops

Budweiser American Ale, Dry-Hopped With Cascade Hops

LASTEST VIDEO UPDATE HERE For Michelob Dunlel Weisse and Pale Ale
and the New Budweiser American Ale

I came back from Saint Louis with an interesting video of a private tasting of Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser American Ale. Before I get to the video, a couple of observations.

It’s been a while since I can recall an extension of the Budweiser name, but just as A-B is positioning flagship brand Budweiser as The Great American Lager, their October-release Budweiser American Ale also waves the flag.

You can read into this whatever you please, but with well over 125 years of brewing heritage and battling for shelf space with foreign intertwined Molson-Coors and SABMiller, they can justifiably throw a little jingoism into the copper and get away with it.

When I wrote Beer & Food: An American History, I asked for the food recipe participation of breweries that were self-searching for their own bit of U.S. brewing industry heritage, brewing beers that were pre-Prohibition throwbacks, or in many cases, beers that were brewed with a nod to even earlier made ales. The results were the usages of a lot of beers in food recipes that included the words “colonial,” “molasses” or “corn” in their titled recipes or beer labels, not a bad thing (since that’s what I was looking for), but at the same time, the efforts were somewhat strained. The breweries were often 10 years old or less. It’s sort of hard to claim a historical brewing heritage when the brewery owner wasn’t even of drinking age a short decade ago. Love ’em or not, A-B has American brewing heritage.

Before anybody starts moaning about this new Budweiser American Ale without tasting it, I say hold judgement until October. I thought that the bottled version that I enjoyed was the result of just what A-B personnel said they were striving for. The amber-colored beer was malty, with a nose that indicated a light dry-hopping of what I’m certain were Cascade hops and the muscle of 5.3% abv behind it. Budweiser American Ale was not, however, a hop-bomb, one of those toe-curling ales that have you burping up hop oils the next morning. It was, I don’t know how to put it any other way, it was…balanced. It was also very, very good in the bottle; I think it would be hard to put down, drawn fresh from the tap. And with the extensive A-B distribution network in place, it’s going to be near impossible to find an old beer on the shelves that has lost its hop nose, a complaint that I still have with some respected craft beers.

As for its pricing, we were informed that it would be priced at “…the low-end of craft beer prices.” I have a suspicion that this ale will be tied to the price of The Boston Beer Company’s Sam Adams Boston Lager. Living in the Chicagoland area, that means a good thing for beer drinkers as A-B tries to slide into the realm of craft-styled beers. I love competition, and with Boston Beer still hurting from their recent chipped bottle recall, I expect their pricing to also remain at “…the low-end of craft beer prices.” Should make for a good shelf fight.

To be sure, the A-B marketing machine will also be out in force in the next few months, emphasizing the company’s brewing heritage, the word “American” and their use of American brewing materials in this new ale.

They can get away with it. As one of John Wayne’s characters once said in a flag-waving movie; “No brag, just fact.”

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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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From the Town of Schlitz to Milwaukee

Posted by Bob Skilnik on May 7, 2008

A View From The Center Of Schlitz, Germany

 “The beer that made Milwaukee famous” … do you remember that slogan? Well, the American beer and a small town in the middle of Germany bear the same name: Schlitz.

And while the link between the two is not particularly strong, they do have Germany and beer in common.

Beer played a prominent role in the development of the small town in northern Hessen near Fulda.

The family Schlitz — who ruled the town of Schlitz — lost its brewing rights in the town to the citizens of Schlitz when the family chose the wrong side in a local uprising and wound up with the losers. But the family did not give up its feud, and in 1725 Friedrich Wilhelm von Schlitz founded a new brewery outside the town to rival the one in town and to maintain some influence over the townspeople.

The beer that made Milwaukee famous was originally brewed there by one German and got its name from another, Joseph Schlitz, who arrived in the country from Mainz. Schlitz worked as a bookkeeper for the brewery’s founder, and when he died, Schlitz took over the company, married the owner’s widow and gave the brewery his name.

The town of Schlitz was first mentioned in history books when Archbishop Richolf of Mainz consecrated a church on the hill of Schlitz in September 812. By 1439, it was officially recognized as a city with a fortified castle and defensive wall. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the castle and fortifications were converted into residential dwellings with a growing population.

Today, Schlitz is a charming and peaceful town, ideal for a stroll on cobblestone streets between half-timbered houses and centuries-old sites.

The main attractions are concentrated on the hill at the center of town. A string of four castles, watchtowers and walls formed a ring atop the hill. Today, only the Hinterturm — a tall tower — and parts of the Vorder- and Hinterburgs — two of the four original castles — can be recognized. With a little bit of imagination, one can assemble the remains of the structures and visualize what they looked like.

An excellent place to get a good view of the town and surrounding area is the towering Hinterturm, once part of the Hinterburg. Almost 150 feet high and built in the 14th century, it offers a splendid view over Schlitz and the surrounding landscape.

During the Christmas season, the tower is wrapped to resemble a candle and is topped by a large electric light that resembles a flame that can be seen from a long distance.

The tower is among the few medieval towers in Germany that has an elevator. It is operated by friendly Georg Eichenauer, who also sells tickets and acts as a guide on top.

And if you are afraid of heights, he will bolster you with a taste of schnapps and bitters produced by the Schlitz Kornbrennerei, Germany’s oldest grain distillery. You can get a glass in Eichenauer’s Turmstube, where he sells the distillery’s products and other souvenirs of Schlitz.

Aha is the name of the well-composed bitter of herbs, roots and berries from the forests around Schlitz that Eichenauer serves up.

“Aha!” you will say after your first taste, and then “Prost” as you toast the town of Schlitz. 

Information: For information, call the tourist office at 06642-97013 or e-mail The town’s Web site is

From Stars & Stripes
By Peter Jaeger, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Tuesday, May 6, 2008

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This Beer Just Might CURE CANCER!

Posted by Bob Skilnik on May 7, 2008


This year’s version of Reunion is an organic red rye ale, featuring a malt ReUnion '08 Beercharacter balanced by spice notes from the rye, caraway seeds, and hops. Once again we have brewed Reunion in cooperation with Dan Del Grande at Bison Brewing.

The 2008 Reunion Ale celebrates the life of our dear friend and partner in this project – Virginia MacLean. Virginia lost her battle with Mutiple Myeloma on June 4, 2007. It was Virginia’s wish that we continue the mission of raising funds for The Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research (IMBCR), so that others could benefit from their research. We know of no better way to honor her legacy.

Every day over 1,000 people are diagnosed with this currently incurable form of bone cancer. IMBCR is working on novel chemotherapy drugs to cure patients like Virginia. Every dollar and every day gets us closer to that cure. You can make it a reality. To learn more please visit:



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St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival – May 8-10

Posted by Bob Skilnik on May 5, 2008

heritagefest2008logo.pngThe date for this year’s St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival will be May 8-10, and because it’s taking place so close to Chicago, I’m going to make it down here for some beers and the chance to video interview all the people who are putting this event together.

C’mon down and say “Hi!” I’ll be the guy with either a camera or beer in my hands…maybe both!


Tickets are on sale at

The seven participating brewers in this exciting event will include Alandale Brewery, Anheuser-Busch, Augusta Brewery, Morgan Street Brewery, O’Fallon Brewery, Schlafly Beer and Square One Brewery. 

In addition to sampling more than 60 styles of beer, area restaurateurs will also be on hand serving culinary fare paired with those different styles.  The festival will offer four sampling sessions and a VIP event: 



  • VIP event on Thursday, May 8 at 7:20 p.m.
  • Friday, May 9 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Friday, May 9 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 10 from noon – 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 10 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.



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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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