Beer (& More) In Food

Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!

Posts Tagged ‘homebrewing’

Muntons Malted Ingredients Opens Office In U.S.

Posted by Bob Skilnik on December 11, 2008

Around the mid-1990s, I put away my trusty stainless steel brew pot. Chicago had become a market that almost every known brewery was fighting over, shelves and coolers crammed with s-o-o many national and worldwide beers. Walking into Binny's or Sam's became, for me, the adult version of a kid in a candy store. It became so much easier to buy a sixer of styles I had been recreating in my basement than grinding malt, mashing, sparging, making sure my yeast strter was ready, etc. Being prideful of my ability to spot trends in brewing, including homebrewing, I pronounced homebrewing as dead or a least on life-support.

How many calories? How many carbs?
How many calories? How many carbs?

Boy was I wrong! The hobby is bigger than ever and even I am looking at starting my basement brewing career all over again, this time spending big bucks and buying, in essence, a complete stainless everything pilot brewery. Even Muntons has decided that the malt market is growing more than ever, including not only for homebrewing and the craft beer industry, but even as an additive in the food market. As a result, they've decided to open their first office in the U.S. to further develop their market here. The company has distributors who stock and distribute locally in the US into various market sectors, with sales based in Seattle, Washington and are even holding thoughts of starting a production facility here too at a later date.

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Posted in Malt Extract | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

So Do We All Agree That December 5, 1933 Is The End Of National Prohibition?

Posted by Bob Skilnik on December 4, 2008

I’ve been bitching and moaning for the last few years about April 7, 1933 being celebrated by various groups as the end of Prohibition when the real end was December 5, 1933. On that date, the 18th Amendment was nullified by the passing of the 21st Amendment. In the meantime, I’ve heard all the contorted stories by a dwindling number of revisionists who still want to hang their hats on April 7.

Today is December 5, the 75th Anniversary of the end of Prohibition. Period. And as expected, beer writers and bloggers are wringing their hands about the significance of the date, its meaning in the grand scheme of things and whether it should be seen as a day of celebration or reflection. And with these postings, there seems to be a need to also tie the date to homebrewing and its supposed illegality during the dry years.

I contend, however, that homebrewing, per se, was NEVER illegal; what was illegal was the way in which malt extract (called “syrup” back then) was labeled and advertised. To support this argument, I’ve included a section from my last book, Beer & Food: An American History. What makes this book so interesting is that while it takes a look at the early marriage of American beer and food and how this union was cultivated, and gives a fascinating glimpse into why there might be a beer in your fridge today, it really details the history and development of beer in the Colonies and the eventual United States of America.

It’s this history that too many beer drinkers, writers, amateur historians and bloggers don’t understand, and as a result, the same old tired beer stories are told over and over. For instance;

1.) If I had a dime for every uninformed claim that corn and rice were dumped into beer coppers as a result of Prohibition (“They were brewing lighter beers for women,” “Brewers wanted more profit so they cheapened their beers”), I’d be writing this entry from the southern coast of France.

2.) Speaking of Prohibition, one of my “favorite” quotes and quite often pouring out of the mouths of some respected contemporary beer writers and “authorities,” is this, “National Prohibition forever changed the face of the U.S. brewing industry and the beers of old.” However, if you look at the neverending changes in the character, quality and brewing of American beer, you’d see that change was and is constant in the industry. In the short time of just a few decades, U.S. beer went from a creature with British origins but often brewed with indigenous American ingredients and brought to fermentation in a manner that some Belgian breweries still use today, to a murky German lager, in short time. . .cleaned up as a golden-colored Bohemian-styled pilsner, soon changed to a lighter version of the product from Pilsen with the addition of costly corn and rice, a product that eventually enjoyed shelf stability with pasteurization, benefited from the change from brewing as an art to brewing as a science and the resultant “cleaner” brew with the isolation of a single and pure cell of yeast, widespread bottling, the use of crown caps, a demand for ice-cold beer, the use of mechanical refrigeration, a wave of brewery closings and consolidations throughout the country when British investors bought into breweries throughout the U.S., only to find that intense competition had taken the bloom off the industry’s rose, increased beer taxes during the Spanish-American War, the brewing of a mandated weakened beer of 2.75% alcohol during WW I, the cessation of brewing in the United States on December 1, 1918, the later resumption of beer with an alcoholic strength of 3.2%, and finally. . .National Prohibition. So I find it hard to accept the argument that Prohibition irrevocably changed beer and brewing in the U.S. Folks, it was changing the moment the first colonist fired up his brew kettle, and it has continued to see change to this very day.

3.) Homebrewing was illegal during Prohibition. No, it wasn’t. Read on.

Posted in Beer History, Books & Beer, Food History, Malt Extract | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »