Beer Birthday: Lucy Saunders

because beer is food: in cooking, at the table, and by the glass …

So begins the website of beer cook Lucy Saunders, whose birthday is today. Lucy has done much to promote both cooking with beer and enjoying food with beer through her books and other writings. She’s a treasure, in more ways than one. Join me in wishing Lucy a very happy birthday Lucy.

At the beer bistro in Toronto for Stephen Beaumont and Maggie’s wedding reception.

Lucy with Stacy Williams, Brand Manager for Gambrinus, at the Hot Brands reception at the NBWA Convention, when it was in San Francisco a few years ago.

During CBC in Austin, Texas in 2007, at the Moonshine bar for an event with Lucy for her book, Grilling with Beer. Here, Lucy with three contributors to her book, myself included.

Lucy with Vinnie Cilurzo at the GABF brewers reception in Denver in 2006.

Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, Fergie Carey, co-owner of Monk’s, Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, and Tom Peters, also co-owner of Monk’s at the Canned Beer Dinner several Junes ago.

Beer Birthday: Sean Paxton

Today is the 44th birthday of Sean Paxton, a.k.a. The Homebrew Chef. Sean is a mad alchemist in the kitchen and puts on some wonderful food and beer spectacles. Plus he’s a terrific homebrewer, an even better human being and a great friend. He’s spent the last year redoing his website with great new recipes and an amazing interface that allows you to search, scale the recipes, convert measurements and much more. For just $5 per month, you’ll get a steady stream of newly created and tested recipes, along with videos and articles to teach you how to cook like Sean and answer your questions. Check it out. Join me in wishing Sean a very happy birthday.

At this year’s Great American Beer Festival in 2008. Bruce Paton, the Beer Chef, Sean and Dave Keene, from the Toronado, in the convention center.

Sean Paxton, with his daughter Olivia
Sean with his daughter Olivia at the Pliny the Elder release earlier this year.

Working with nitrogen at the 11-course Belgian Brunch, or Blunch, held at the Toronado.

My wife, Sarah, with Sean after the 10th annual beer dinner at the Northern California Homebrewers Festival held at Lake Francis Resort in Dobbins, California.

Matt Bonney, Stephen Beaumont, Sean Paxton, Pete Slosberg & Rick Sellers
Matt Bonney, Stephen Beaumont, Sean, Pete Slosberg & Rick Sellers at the Bistro for the Double IPA Festival this year.

Randy Mosher and Sean Paxton
With Randy Mosher at the world’s biggest beer dinner at CBC in Chicago.

Historic Birthday: George Crum

Today is the date that George Crum died in 1914, and the closest anyone knows about when he was born is July 1832, although some accounts say as early as 1822 and at least one more gives 1831. But he was born George Speck, but changed his name to “Crum” (July 1832-July 22, 1914). He worked several jobs before finding his true calling as a chef in upstate New York, most notably at Moon’s Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York, and later at his own “Crum’s Place.” But his true fame came from the invention of the potato chip in 1853. There is some controversy about whether he is the true inventor, although there are other candidates, and some evidence that either way he may have been involved at some level, he remains the likeliest person to be credited with inventing the potato chip, which makes him a hero in my book.


Here’s a short account of his life from

When George W. Speck-Crum was born in July 1828 in Malta, New York, his father, Abraham, was 39 and his mother, Catherine, was 42. He had three sons and one daughter with Elizabeth J. He then married Hester Esther Bennett in 1860. He died on July 22, 1914, in his hometown, having lived a long life of 86 years, and was buried in Saratoga County, New York.

Nothing about his life seems particularly settled, not his birthday, where he was born, his exact ethnicity, or almost anything else, but here’s what Wikipedia claims:

George Speck (also called George Crum) was a man of mixed ancestry, including St. Regis (Akwesasne) Mohawk Indian, African-American, and possibly German. He worked as a hunter, guide, and cook in the Adirondacks, who became renowned for his culinary skills after being hired at Moon’s Lake House on Saratoga Lake, near Saratoga Springs, New York.

Speck’s specialities included wild game, especially venison and duck, and he often experimented in the kitchen. During the 1850s, while working at Moon’s Lake House in the midst of a dinner rush, Speck tried slicing the potatoes extra thin and dropping it into the deep hot fat of the frying pan. Thus was born the potato chip.

George and his wife Kate.


George Speck (also called George Crum) was born on July 15, 1824 (or 1825) [maybe, but possibly other years or dates] in Saratoga County in upstate New York. Some sources suggest that the family lived in Ballston Spa or Malta; others suggest they came from the Adirondacks. Depending upon the source, his father, Abraham, and mother Diana, were variously identified as African American, Oneida, Stockbridge, and/or Mohawk Indians. Some sources associate the family with the St. Regis (Akwesasne) Mohawk reservation that straddles the US/Canadian border. Speck and his sister Kate Wicks, like other Native American or mixed-race people of that era, were variously described as “Indian,” “Mulatto,” “Black,” or just “Colored,” depending on the snap judgement of the census taker.

Speck developed his culinary skills at Cary Moon’s Lake House on Saratoga Lake, noted as an expensive restaurant at a time when wealthy families from Manhattan and other areas were building summer “camps” in the area. Speck and his sister, Wicks, also cooked at the Sans Souci in Ballston Spa, alongside another St. Regis Mohawk Indian known for his skills as a guide and cook, Pete Francis. One of the regular customers at Moon’s was Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who, although he savored the food, could never seem to remember Speck’s name. On one occasion, he called a waiter over to ask “Crum,” “How long before we shall eat?” Rather than take offense, Speck decided to embrace the nickname, figuring that, “A crumb is bigger than a speck.”

Wicks later recalled the invention of the potato chip as an accident: she had “chipped off a piece of the potato which, by the merest accident, fell into the pan of fat. She fished it out with a fork and set it down upon a plate beside her on the table.” Her brother tasted it, declared it good, and said, “We’ll have plenty of these.” In a 1932 interview with the Saratogian newspaper, her grandson, John Gilbert Freeman, asserted Wick’s role as the true inventor of the potato chip.

Speck, however, was the one who popularized the potato chip, first as a cook at Moon’s and then in his own place. By 1860, Speck had opened his own restaurant, called Crum’s, on Storey Hill in nearby Malta, New York. His cuisine was in high demand among Saratoga Springs’ tourists and elites: “His prices were…those of the fashionable New York restaurants, but his food and service were worth it…Everything possible was raised on his own small farm, and that, too, got his personal attention whenever he could arrange it.” According to popular accounts, he was said to include a basket of chips on every table. One contemporaneous source recalls that in his restaurant, Speck was unquestionably the man in charge: “His rules of procedure were his own. They were very strict, and being an Indian, he never departed from them. In the slang of the racecourse, he “played no favorites.” Guests were obliged to wait their turn, the millionaire as well as the wage-earner. Mr. Vanderbilt once was obliged to wait an hour and a half for a meal…With none but rich pleasure-seekers as his guests, Crum kept his tables laden with the best of everything, and for it all charged Delmonico prices.”


Potato Chip Legend

Recipes for frying potato slices were published in several cookbooks in the 19th century. In 1832, a recipe for fried potato “shavings” was included in a United States cookbook derived from an earlier English collection. William Kitchiner’s The Cook’s Oracle (1822), also included techniques for such a dish. Similarly, N.K.M. Lee’s cookbook, The Cook’s Own Book (1832), has a recipe that is very similar to Kitchiner’s.

The New York Tribune ran a feature article on “Crum’s: The Famous Eating House on Saratoga Lake” in December 1891, but, curiously, mentioned nothing about potato chips.[13] Neither did Crum’s commissioned biography, published in 1893, nor did one 1914 obituary in a local paper.[14] Another obituary states “Crum is said to have been the actual inventor of “Saratoga chips.””[15] When Wicks died in 1924, however, her obituary authoritatively identified her as follows: “A sister of George Crum, Mrs. Catherine Wicks, died at the age of 102, and was the cook at Moon’s Lake House. She first invented and fried the famous Saratoga Chips.”

Hugh Bradley’s 1940 history of Saratoga contains some information about Speck, based on local folklore as much as on any specific historical primary sources. Fox and Banner said that Bradley had cited an 1885 article in the Hotel Gazette about Speck and the potato chips. Bradley repeated several myths that appear in that article, including that “Crum was born in 1828, the son of Abe Speck, a mulatto jockey who had come from Kentucky to Saratoga Springs and married a Stockbridge Indian woman,” and that, “Crum also claimed to have considerable German and Spanish blood.”

Cary Moon, owner of Moon’s Lake House, rushed to claim credit for the invention, and began mass-producing the chips, first served in paper cones, then packaged in boxes. They soon became wildly popular: “It was at Moon’s that Clio first tasted the famous Saratoga chips, said to have originated there, and it was she who first scandalized spa society be strolling along Broadway and about the paddock at the race track crunching the crisp circlets out of a paper sack as though they were candy or peanuts. She made it the fashion, and soon you saw all Saratoga dipping into cornucopias filled with golden-brown paper-thin potatoes; a gathered crowd was likely to create a sound like a scuffling through dried autumn leaves.” Visitors to Saratoga Springs were advised to take the 10-mile journey around the lake to Moon’s if only for the chips: “the hobby of the Lake House is Fried Potatoes, and these they serve in good style. They are sold in papers like confectionary.”

A 1973 advertising campaign by the St. Regis Paper Company, which manufactured packaging for chips, featured an ad for Crum (Speck) and his story, published in the national magazines, Fortune and Time. During the late 1970s, the variant of the story featuring Vanderbilt became popular because of the interest in his wealth and name, and evidence suggests the source was an advertising agency for the Potato Chip/Snack Food Association.

A 1983 article in Western Folklore identifies potato chips as having originated in Saratoga Springs, New York, while critiquing the variants of popular stories. In all versions, the chips became popular and subsequently known as “Saratoga chips” or “potato crunches”.

The 21st-century Snopes website writes that Crum’s customer, if he existed, was more likely an obscure one. Vanderbilt was a regular customer at Moon’s Lake House and at Crum’s Malta restaurant, but there is no evidence that he played any role in inventing (or demanding) potato chips.




Potato chips on a white background.

And here’s yet another story about the origin of the potato chip, written by Jean McGregor in the Saratogian in 1940:

The authentic story of Saratoga chips is at long last revealed by the great nephew of George (Speck) Crum, their originator, Albert J. Stewart, now an employee of Mrs. Webster Curran Moriarta of North Broadway, with whom he has been employed for 24 years. Stewart told the story to Mrs. Moriarta many times as I relate it here: “Aunt Kate Wicks” so called by her friends, had something* to do with their Invention—worked for her brother, Crum. She related the true circumstances to Stewart many times before her death in 1914 at 68 William St., where she resided. Crum was born in Malta, the son of Abram Speck, a mulatto jockey who came from Kentucky in the early days of Saratoga and married an Indian woman of the Stockbridge tribe. It is related that a wealthy dinner guest had one time Jokingly referred to the name Speck, as Crura, and thereupon Speck took over the name of Crum. George Crum was more Indianin appearance. His younger days were spent in the Adirondack^ and he became a mighty hunter and a successful fisherman. His services as a guide in the Adirondack* were much sought after. His companion in the forests was a Frenchman from whom he learned to cook. Shortly after the Frenchman’s death, Cnrn took up his abode near the south end of the lake and prepared to serve ducks. He became known throughout the country for his unique and wonderful skill In cooking game, fish and camp fire dishes generally. While he was employed as a cook at Moon’s Place, opened by Carey B. Moon in 1853 at the Southend of Saratoga Lake, on the Ramsdill Road, the incident occurred which led to the making of Saratoga Chips. “Aunt Kate Wicks” who worked with her brother, Crum, making pastry, had a pan of fat on the stove, while making crullers and was peeling potatoes at the same time. She chipped off a piece of potato which by the merest accident fell into the pan of fat. She fished it out with a fork and set it down upon a plate beside her on the table. Crum came into the kitchen. “What’s this?”, he asked, as he picked up the chip and tasted it “Hm, Hm, that’s good. How did you make it?” “Aunt Kate” described the accident. “That’s a good accident,” said Crum. “We’ll have plenty of these.” HE TREED them out. Demand for them grew like wild fire and he sold them at 15 and ten cents a bag. Thus the Saratoga Chip came into existence. Other makes appeared on the market as time passed. For a long period of years, few prominent men in the world of finance, politics, art, the drama or sports, failed to eat one of Crum’s famous dinners.

The late Cornelius E. Durkee, who died at the age of 96, entertained many guests at Moon’s and was familiar with its history, related this interesting story of Crum’s genius as a cook for me one day while he was compiling his reminiscences: “William H. Vanderbilt, father of Governor William H. Vanderbilt of Rhode Island, a prominent visitor here in those days, was extremely fond of canvasback ducks, but could not get them cooked properly in the village. “He sent a couple to Crum to see what he could do with them. “Crum had never seen a canvasback but having boasted that he could cook anything, willingly undertook to prepare these. “I KEPT THEM over the coals 19 minutes.” Crum told Mr. Durkee, “the blood following the knife and sent them to the table hot. Mr. Vanderbilt said he had never eaten anything like them in his life”Mr. Vanderbilt,” continued Mr. Durkee, “was so pleased he sent Mr. Crum many customers. He prospered in the business. He kept his tables laden with the best of everything and did not neglect to charge Delmonico prices.” “His rules of procedure were his own. Guests were obliged to wait their turn, the millionaire as well as the wage earner. Mr. Vanderbilt was once obliged to wait an hour for a meal and Jay Gould and his party, also visitors here in the early days when this resort was the capital of fashionables of the country, waited as long another time. CRUM LEFT the kitchen to apologize to Mr. Gould, who told him he understood the rules of the establishment and would wait willingly another hour. Judge Hilton and a party of friends were turned away one day. “I can’t wait on you,” said Crum, directing them to a rival house for dinner. “George,” said Mr. Hilton, “you must wait on us if we have to remain in the front yard for two hours.” Mr. Durkee recalled for me that, among those who enjoyed Crum’s cooking and his potato chips were Presidents Chester A. Arthur and Grover Cleveland, and Governors Horatio Seymour, Alonzo B. Cornell, David P. Hill, Roswell P. Flower and such financiers as Vanderbilt, Pierre Lorillard, Berry Wall, William R. Travers, William M. Tweed and E. T. Stokes. Crum died in 1914. His brother, Abraham (Speck) Crum dug out an old Indian canoe for Jonathan Ramsdill of Saratoga Lake which is still on exhibit in the State Museum in Albany as one of the finest examples of Indian canoes and Indian days at Saratoga Lake, rich in Indian lore.

And Original Saratoga Chips in New York, also has their version of the story on their website. And The Great Idea Finder also has some info on Crum.

His own restaurant, Crum’s Place, was located at 793 Malta Avenue in Ballston Spa, New York. Today, a marker can be seen by the spot where it stood from 1860-1890.


Patent No. 4590085A: Flavor Enhancement And Potentiation With Beer Concentrate

Today in 1986, US Patent 4590085 A was issued, an invention of Daniel R. Sidoti, John H. Dokos, Edward Katz, and Charles M. Moscowitz, assigned to Anheuser-Busch Incorporated, for their “Flavor Enhancement And Potentiation With Beer Concentrate.” Here’s the Abstract:

A new method for intensifying the inherent flavors of foods and for imparting other desirable organoleptic properties is disclosed. The method consists of adding to foodstuffs a flavor enhancing amount of a heat denatured concentrate of beer. There is also provided a process for producing the above described concentrate.


While the abstract doesn’t tell us too much, the background from the application is very interesting, as it talks quite a bit about beer in cooking, which appears to be the primary goal of the patent’s use, although the patent has lapsed, so I don’t know if it was ever used in a commercial product. I know there have been, and even currently are, powdered beer products on the market, this one seems aimed at adding beer flavoring to cooking, rather than being able to make instant beer by adding water.


Foodstuffs of all varieties whether precooked, served hot or cold, or whether prepared without cooking have flavors, aroma, and other organoleptic properties that influence the sensory perceptions of human taste. The manufacturers of such foods as sauces, spreads, dips, soups, dressings, stuffings, garnishes, meats, fish, vegetables, salads, breads, etc. whether dry, frozen, refrigerated or canned, desire to produce products organoleptic properties closely profiling the natural flavors, aromas and textures that appeal broadly to the sensory perceptions of the consuming public. A food whose natural flavors are unduly masked may be too bland, or if overly modified with added flavor components, it may be perceived as too spicy. The availability of spices, condiments, etc., permits the individual consumer to adjust the flavor of food purchased from the shelf to suit his or her particular taste preference.

Nevertheless, food manufactures because of the nature of precooking processes, the addition of preservatives, the packaging and keeping techniques of retorting, pasturization, etc. will often times find that the desired natural flavor of the foodstuff has been suppressed below the threshold taste perceptions of the average consumer. Accordingly, techniques for addressing this deficiency have become customary to the industry.

One such technique involves the use of chemical compounds which intensify the flavors inherently present in food without adding any flavor from the chemical itself. These compounds are known as Flavor Enhancers and include, for example, linalool, 2-nonenal which is used to enhance the flavor of coffee, and certain sulfur containing amino acids which are used to enhance meaty flavors. Other chemicals serve as flavor enhancers through reacting with endogenous flavor components of food itself to synergistically promote the combined flavor effect of those components.

Another technique which is commercially employed to address the problem of suppressed natural flavors is that of using chemical compounds which when added to foods in very low concentrations to catalytically create desirable organoleptic properties of the foodstuff otherwise undetectable. These compounds are known as Flavor Potentiators, and like Flavor Enhancers, their taste is not itself detectable to the sensory perceptions of the ordinary consuming public.

There are drawbacks, however, to the previously known Flavor Enhancers and Potentiators. One foremost disadvantage is that these compounds are selective in their functional contribution to flavor development. The same compound which enhances coffee flavor may have a deleterious effect, if any effect at all, on, for example, cheese flavor. Accordingly, some food products such as soups, dressings and some pastries which have a combined variety of natural flavors are extremely difficult to potentiate or enhance from previously known chemicals.

Another serious drawback to previous flavor enhancement and potentiation techniques is that they require the addition of chemical compounds which have no nutritional value themselves nor are they derived from natural food or beverage constituents.

It has now been found and this finding forms the basis of this invention, that Flavor Enhancement and/or Potentiation can be achieved by the addition of denatured beer concentrate to foodstuffs of all types and varieties, whether cooked or prepared fresh, without the need to employ non-nutritional, chemical compounds.

It should be appreciated that cooking with beer is not new. The book Cooking With Beer by Carole Fahy, first published in 1972 by Elm Tree Books, indicates that the brewing of beer is known to have been practiced in Mesopotamia and Egypt at least 5,000 years ago. The Egyptians passed on their knowledge of brewing to the Greeks who in turn handed it down to the Romans who refined the Anglo-Saxon form which was already in place at the time of the Roman conquest. English ale became the basis for many religious and social festivals and is said to have accompanied bread as the sole breakfast menu of Queen Elizabeth I.

Ales and beers are all manufactured beginning with mashing barley malt and possibly grain adjuncts such as barley, corn and rice. This is filtered, brought to boil, pitched with hops and result in a wort which consists of water, dextrine and fermentable sugars. The wort is then fermented with yeast.

English ales have been traditionally distinguished from American brews or lagers primarily on the basis of the type of yeast employed to ferment fermentable sugars of the precursor wort into alcohol. Secondarily, there is a distinction between the ratio of malt and grain adjuncts in the mash in that ales customarily have far less, if any, grain adjuncts. Also there are distinctions in the level of hop addition. These factors contribute significantly to the variations in taste of American brews or lagers and ales.

Beers have gained some limited acceptance in cooking as a consequence of their richness, delightful taste, their ability to improve the texture and lightness of cakes, pies and batters; their tenderizing effect on tough meats; their contribution to preserving foods; their ability to make breads rise; their adding piquancy to dull vegetables and attractively glazing roasted meats and a few other culinary virtues. However, each of these benefits is owed to the full compliment of the beer flavor and texture attributes present naturally and, in the case of assisting cakes to rise, its fermentable state with its residual yeast in active form and its carbonation being readily apparent.

It has been determined however, that the use of beer in cooking does have its limitations. For example, if you are making a soup which requires dried vegetables according to Carole Fahy in Cooking With Beer, you must make certain that you soak them thoroughly, overnight, before use because the hard pellets will otherwise sink to the bottom of a rich vegetable beer soup apparently due to slow diffusion of beer molecules through the surface membrane and interior of the dried vegetables. Additionally, when sieving foods as for example, soups, the richer the beer is, the more difficult to push entirely through the strainer without losing some of the desired flavor. Still further, it is found necessary to cook foods longer with beer to fully develop the flavor. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, cooking with beer imparts of a clear beer flavor to the foodstuffs tending to mask the inherent natural flavors of the other foodstuffs. Accordingly, beers, although employed previously in cooking, have not been used nor thought to have any Flavor Enhancing or Potentiation functionality. Likewise, previous beer extracts or concentrates have had no utility in flavor enhancement but rather have been prepared in undenatured form in order to be reconstituted into either alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages.

British Patent No. 2127 describes the prepration of a nonalcoholic beer extract or concentrate. Although the concentration can be effected in any efficient vacuum evaporation apparatus, the first end to be attained is the separation of the alcohol produced by fermentation at as low a temperature as possible. After separation, as disclosed in this patent, the temperature may be raised, but the subsequent evaporation must be carefully conducted otherwise aromatic compounds present may be expelled or destroyed and the color of the product materially increased. The product is said to be pleasant to the taste and to possess all the nutritive and feeding properties of original beer before removal of the alcohol and subsequent concentration. The product is employed as an ale concentrate designed to be reconstituted into a non-alcohlic beverage by the addition of water.

British Patent No. 1,228,917 discloses a dry extract of a fermented beverage. However, it is compounded with dry yeast in live active form, together with dry fermentable carbohydrates or dry unfermented wort containing fermentable carbohydrates in order to permit fermentation when diluted. The boiling evaporation utilized to produce the extract is under a vacuum high enough to take place at the predetermined low temperature of 100° F. The original fermented beverages and their respective solids or residues and the yeast are protected during evaporation by the low temperatures. The evaporation at yeast-preserving temperatures with minimum of exposure to the heat also preserves the solubility of the enzymes of yeast and, therefore, the yeast remains in active condition so it will act vigorously when the extract is diluted with water for the preparation of a beverage.

In British Patent No. 1,290,192, a beer extract is produced from evaporating a partly fermented beverage at temperatures below 80° F. or any other suitably low temperature that will preserve the constituents of the reduced wort in a soluble state. The extract contains fermentable substances with the same characteristics of the beverage from which the extract was made. It possesses the characteristic flavor and taste of the original beverage that can be produced and imparted by yeast fermentation and is naturally alcoholic; and when suitable diluted with water, provides a beverage having the flavor and taste of the original beverage. The yeast, however, is used in large quantity for example, twice as much in respect to the amount of fermentable carbohydrates as is usually employed to pitch ordinary fermented beverages.


It is an object of the present invention to provide a new and useful technique for flavor enhancement and potentiation intensifying the inherent natural flavors of food and creating desirable organoleptic properties to a broad range of foodstuffs with a derivative of a nutritious foodstuff natural concentrate despite having substantially denatured the components of flavor and color, consistency, solubility and fermentability from the concentrate.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a new and useful concentrate of beer and its method of manufacture.

These objects and others are fulfilled by heat treating a fermented malt beverage or beer at sufficiently high temperatures to substantially denature the product and adding it at very low levels to foodstuffs. The denatured beer concentrate is added in amounts below which the concentrate is detectable in taste or mouth feel, but sufficient to achieve flavor enhancement and potentiation.

Beer In Ads #1905: Thanksgiving Dinner

Sunday’s ad is entitled Thanksgiving Dinner, and the illustration was done in 1949 by Douglass Crockwell. It’s #36 in a series entitled “Home Life in America,” also known as the Beer Belongs series of ads that the United States Brewers Foundation ran from 1945 to 1956. In this ad, a family is sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, and everyone has a beer, naturally. Mom is bringing in the turkey, while Grandma and Grandpa eye the bird suspiciously. The pressure’s on.

036. Thanksgiving Dinner by Douglass Crockwell, 1949

Beer Birthday: Bruce Paton

Today is the Beer Chef, Bruce Paton’s 61st birthday. Bruce has been doing fantastic dinners pairing greatvbeer and gourmet food for almost twenty years in the Bay Area starting at Barclay’s Restaurant and Pub in Oakland and continuing at the Clift and Cathedral Hill Hotels in San Francisco. He’s has been doing events and consulting at various food and beverage operations since the hotel closed in 2009, so look for more of his beer dinners in the coming months. I’ve been to many, many of Bruce’s food events and they’re allvspectacularly top notch. He did around eight each year. Raise a toast and stuff your face in wishing Bruce a very happy birthday.

My hands down favorite photo of Bruce, which I took for the Chef’s Association of the Pacific Coast newsletter. I don’t think this is the one they used, but, by far, as I think it captures Bruce’s spirit and his great love and passion for what he does with his cooking and beer.

Giving a cooking demonstration with Garret Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table at the 2005 GABF.

Bruce with Russian River co-owner Natalle Cilurzo.

Me and Bruce Paton, redux
Me and Bruce New Year’s Day a few years ago at Barclay’s.

America’s First Cookbook

Today in 1796, American Cookery was published. It was the first cookbook published in America and written by an American, Amelia Simmons. Not much is known about her. She’s referred to as an “American Orphan” on the title page, which isn’t terribly helpful. The first edition was published in Hartford, Connecticut, so some speculate that Simmons may have been from the area. And it appears the very first edition may have been self-published. Feeding America explores many of the questions about Simmons, but has few answers.

It was printed and reprinted for 35 years, with several people stealing her work and putting their own name to it, with some adding additional material. If you read through her biography, it appears that was happening from the very beginning and over the course of its thirteen additions. It’s 220 years old today.


It’s divided into six sections. First, there’s a Preface, followed by “Directions for Catering, or the procuring the best Viands, Fish, &c.” The chapters that follow include “2. Roots and Vegetables — Beans — Fruits,” “3. Receipts — [Meats] — [Pies],” “4. Puddings — Custards — Tarts,” “5. Cake,” and “6. Preserves — [Boiling], with a short “Errata” at the end. It’s in the public domain and you can get a copy for your eReader at Project Gutenberg.

Near the very end of the book, in Chapter “6. Preserves,” there’s a short recipe for Spruce Beer.


And here it is reprinted in more modern English:

For brewing Spruce Beer.

Take four ounces of hops, let them boil half an hour in one gallon of water, strain the hop water then add sixteen gallons of warm water, two gallons of molasses, eight ounces of essence of spruce, dissolved in one quart of water, put it in a clean cask, then shake it well together, add half a pint of emptins, then let it stand and work one week, if very warm weather less time will do, when it is drawn off to bottle, add one spoonful of molasses to every bottle.


Also, the very first recipe under Chapter “5. Cake” calls for a quart of “new ale yeast.”

Plumb Cake.

Mix one pound currants, one drachm nutmeg, mace and cinnamon each, a little salt, one pound of citron, orange peal candied, and almonds bleach’d, 6 pound of flour, (well dry’d) beat 21 eggs, and add with 1 quart new ale yeast, half pint of wine, 3 half pints of cream and raisins, q: s:

Beer In Ads #1879: Thanksgiving Dinner

Tuesday’s ad is entitled Thanksgiving Dinner, and the illustration was done in 1947 by Douglass Crockwell. It’s #10 in a series entitled “Home Life in America,” also known as the Beer Belongs series of ads that the United States Brewers Foundation ran from 1945 to 1956. In this ad, a picture perfect Thanksgiving turkey is on the dinner table, but the it’s not complete. People wait in the wings to be seated until the most important job is done. The matriarch of the family is putting beer glasses down at each place setting, the final touch, before the holiday meal can begin. Just like at my house.

010. Thanksgiving Dinner by Douglass Crockwell, 1947

Patent No. CA2133272A1: Preparation Of Beer, Probably Samuel Adams Triple Bock

Today in 1995, CA 2133272 A1 was issued, an invention of Charles J. Koch, though the “Applicant” is listed as Charles J. Koch, Boston Beer Company Limited Partnership D/B/A Boston Beer Company (The), A Massachusetts Partnership; General Partner, Boston Brewing Company, Inc., for his “Preparation Of Beer.” Here’s the Abstract:

High alcohol beer having a full, round flavor is prepared by employing as the yeast a wine or champagne yeast, and a sweetened wort.

While I can’t be sure, I think this is essentially for Samuel Adams’ Triple Bock, which was first released in 1994. While the patent wasn’t granted until 1995, it was filed in the fall of 1994, but the “priority date” listed is October 6, 1993. The “inventor” listed is Charles J. Koch, who was Jim Koch’s father, although under “applicant” the Boston Beer Co. is also listed. In addition, I recall Jim explaining that it was in fact Champagne yeast that was used to create the beer. So it certainly seems likely that they patented the process used to make that unique beer. I still have a few bottles of it in my cellar though the last couple I opened tasted a lot like soy sauce. To be fair, the bottles that were opened during an anniversary dinner that I was lucky enough to attend in Boston Beer Co.’s barrel room a few years ago were tasting quite good. Although the OCR errors make it difficult reading, it’s still interesting to see the thought process and how they went about it laid out. I may have to open another bottle soon.


James Beard 2016 Semifinalists Announced

The 2016 semifinalist nominations for the James Beard Awards were announced Wednesday, and the good news is there are quite a few beer professionals among the nominees for “Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional.” If you’re not familiar with the prestigious food awards, here’s how the James Beard Foundation describe their annual awards. “Covering all aspects of the industry — from chefs and restaurateurs to cookbook authors and food journalists to restaurant designers and architects and more — the Beard Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals working in North America.” Until very recently, the awards were almost exclusively food and wine-centric, but more recently “beverage professionals” has slowly been expanding to include craft beer and spirits, too. It’s been nice to see the prejudice against beer in the food, cooking and restaurant world finally beginning to slide away. Too slowly, perhaps, but still … it’s about time and nice to see.

The list released Wednesday is the semifinalists. On March 15, a smaller list of finalists will be announced from among the semifinalists and the award winners will be announced May 2. In the category “Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional,” six of the twenty semifinalists work in the beer world. Last year it was five and the year before there were seven beer professionals nominated. Hopefully, many of them will make the cut next month. Here’s the beer people for this year:

  • Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
  • Wayne Carpenter, Skagit Valley Malting, Burlington, WA
  • Vinnie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, Evil Twin Brewing, Brooklyn, NY
  • Jim Koch, The Boston Beer Company, Boston
  • Rob Tod, Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME

Congratulations to all the semifinalists. It’s a great list, all deserving, though I’m especially pleased to see Vinnie Cilurzo, who’s a friend and neighbor.