America’s First Cookbook

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

James Beard 2016 Semifinalists Announced

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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.

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Pizza Hut To Offer Beer Selection

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Last month, The Street reported that the Pizza Hut chain has remodeled several of their 6,000+ restaurants, and “plans to remodel roughly 700 of its U.S. stores a year through 2022 in the new format.” The newly refurbished Pizza Huts will continue to have the company’s ” trademark red and black colors, albeit with deeper hues” and will also “feature wraparound windows, outdoor seating and yes, a drive-thru.”

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All well and good, so far, but so what, you may be asking. Pizza Hut has also added beer and wine service at the remodeled locations, and plans to add alcohol to each refurbished restaurant. Frankly, I didn’t realize they didn’t serve beer already. Pizza and beer are pretty much a perfect pairing, as iconic as peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese and tomato soup. The more I think about it, almost every pizza place I can name also serves beer, both chains and the small mom and pop pizza joints. How many brewpubs serve pizza? Lots of them, with many even specializing in it.

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Why I bring this up is because the wackos at Alcohol Justice tweeted their displeasure at this idea, with this. “Now Pizza Hut wants to sell booze too bit.ly/1PkIwe1 What’s next…wine tastings at Toys-R-Us?” That’s what’s known as a false equivalence, one does not follow from the other. It is, in effect, a bullshit argument. One is a restaurant, and a type of restaurant that typically does carry beer and wine. The other is a toy store. There’s no link whatsoever, nothing that would make this in any way logical. It’s AJ making a mountain out a molehill, as they so often try to do. It’s just absurd.

They idea that a pizza restaurant serving beer and wine is cause for alarm is absolutely laughable. It’s harder to think of one that doesn’t already serve beer then come up with all of those who do. Several times I’ve gone with Porter’s basketball team and his little league baseball team to a Mountain Mike’s or Straw Hat Pizza after a game with the whole team and their parents. Many pizzas are ordered for everyone, with pitchers of beer for the parents. That’s the very definition of family-friendly, with something for everyone. Not once has there been a problem. But in AJ’s worldview, beer at a pizza joint with beer is the same as booze being served at a toy store. But now I’m feeling hungry. I’ve got plenty of beer. I wonder if it’s too late to order from Pizza Hut? They just opened one in our town, and I definitely want to support their decision to upset Alcohol Justice.

Beer Syrup

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I’ve made pancakes substituting beer for the water, I’ve enjoyed Kentucky Breakfast Stout, once with beer pancakes. And I’ve had beer that tasted rather sweet, like maple syrup, too. But it never occurred to me you could make the pancake syrup with beer. And it looks fairly easy. I recently ran across an article about The Art of Making Beer Syrup in Outside magazine, and apparently bartenders have been making them for years to use in special cocktails. Given that the only cocktail I almost ever order is a gin & tonic, hopefully you’ll forgive my cocktail ignorance. Apparently it’s just water (or any liquid) reduced, sugar added.

Outside’s recipe is so simple, even I could probably make it:

For best results, pour your favorite beer into a pan and slowly simmer over low heat until it reduces to two-thirds of its initial volume. Then add in an equal proportion of raw brown sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Pour liberally over your favorite breakfast food and wait for your insulin levels to spike.

The Good Booze blog suggests adding “a few whole cardamom pods” and “one small vanilla bean, split” to give it a little more flavor. It looks like any beer could work, although malt-forward beers seem better suited than hoppier ones, but certainly some experimentation is in order.

Allrecipes also has their own recipe, and a bar in San Francisco, The Fifth Floor (which is closed now, and reborn as Dirty Habit) used to make a drink they called Hops & Dreams, using a syrup made from Anchor Steam Beer.

And one entrepreneurial soul is trying to start the Beer Syrup Company to make commercial beer syrups.

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Patent No. 6622510B2: Frozen Beer Product, Method And Apparatus

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Today in 2003, US 6622510 B2 was issued, an invention of Mark S. Giroux, Joseph M. Trewhella, and Darryl Alan Goodson, assigned to Grindmaster Crathco Systems, Inc., for their “Frozen Beer Product, Method and Apparatus.” Here’s the Abstract:

A method of freezing and dispensing a beer product comprises providing beer in a sealed, refrigerated storage container under pressure; feeding beer from the storage container to a sealed freezing chamber through a sealed delivery system; freezing the beer in the chamber; and dispensing frozen beer from the chamber.

The frozen beer product preferably has a slush consistency and a density of about 50% to about 90% of the density of unfrozen beer, a temperature of between about 23° and 27° F. and a volume reduction in a filled 14 fluid ounce plastic cup sitting in 70° F. room for 30 minutes or less than 10%.

A refrigerated cabinet for supplying beer comprises an insulated beer storage compartment; a refrigeration system comprising a compressor, a condenser, a thermal expansion device and an evaporator; a pressurized carbon dioxide tank in a separate, non-refrigerated compartment; and a fan for circulating air within the insulated beer storage compartment.

A beer freezing and dispensing apparatus comprises a freezing chamber; a refrigeration system for cooling the beer in the freezing chamber to a frozen state; a dispensing system for dispensing frozen beer from the freezing chamber when it reaches a slush consistency, and a beer delivery system for delivering beer to the freezing chamber, the beer delivery system comprising; a valve for controlling the introduction of beer into the delivery system; a check valve to prevent beer from flowing backwards out of the delivery system; an accumulator for holding beer that expands when beer freezes in the chamber; and a pressure sensor for sensing the pressure of the beer between the accumulator and the freezing chamber.

The method and apparatus may also be used to freeze and dispense other single-strength beverages.

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Patent No. 4350712A: Frozen Beer Stick Including Retractable Cup

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Today in 1982, US Patent 4350712 A was issued, an invention of Alfred Kocharian and George Spector, for their “Frozen Beverage Stick Including Retractable Cup.” Here’s the Abstract:

A popsicle type confection, which instead of an orange, cherry, raspberry, strawberry or similar conventional flavor frozen ice upon a stick, utilizes either a frozen beer or a frozen wine mounted upon a stick, and which in the present invention also includes a cup like heat shield around confection which is retractable so to allow licking the frozen beer or wine.

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Hefe Wheaties

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Just when you think things can’t get stranger, the makers of Wheaties — the Breakfast of Champions — General Mills have announced that they’re making a new beer, Hefe Wheaties. Expecting people to do a spit take when reading that, General Mills blog anticipated skepticism in their announcement of the new beer. “Well, you read it correctly. Wheaties has partnered with Fulton, a craft brewery in Minneapolis, to create a limited-edition Hefeweizen beer named HefeWheaties.

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Here’s how General Mills’ describes the collaboration beer on their blog.

Wheaties is not actually in the beer, but there is wheat. And that connection helped both brands try something interesting.

“We were intrigued from the get-go on this idea for many reasons, including that we’re both Minneapolis companies, and that the beer and the cereal both started from the same place in terms of raw ingredients and the same city,” says Ryan Petz, president and co-founder of Fulton.

So what about the name?

“We had been sampling a number of Hefeweizens, so we had been discussing with the Wheaties team what we liked,” says Petz. “Someone on the team said HefeWheaties, and it kind of sprung out from there.”

The Hefeweizen is a south German style of wheat beer, typically brewed with over 50 percent malted wheat, making it a natural fit for Wheaties.

The “Hefe” prefix means, “with yeast.” This German-style beer often has a cloudy appearance because of the high wheat content and has a little bit of hop bitterness.

Typically served in a traditional Weizen glass, HefeWheaties will be the first beer of this style brewed by Fulton. It’s brewed with water, malted wheat, malted barley, hops from Germany, the U.S. and Australia, and a yeast strain specifically developed for fermenting American-style wheat beers.

“This was a true partnership between Wheaties and Fulton,” says David Oehler, marketing manager, Wheaties. “Both teams were passionate about this project and got to work quickly. We enjoyed the chance to collaborate with Fulton throughout the entire process from idea generation to can design.”

The idea for HefeWheaties came up earlier this summer, thanks to some connections between Fulton’s team and employees at General Mills.

Tony Libera, who manages the social media accounts for Wheaties, chatted about the possibility of a beer partnership for the brand with a friend who was a sales representative for Fulton, and the plans were put in motion from there.

The Fulton team also has other close ties to General Mills. Petz worked for us for a few years after business school, as did Fulton’s director of operations. And the wife of another Fulton founder currently works at General Mills.

So where can you find HefeWheaties?

For a limited time, beginning August 26, it will be available in the Twin Cities market in a 16oz. tallboy can. 4-packs will be sold at limited retailers in the area, while quantities last. HefeWheaties will not be available for shipment or purchase outside of Minnesota.

Also, the Fulton taproom in Minneapolis will host several events featuring HefeWheaties, with the first being held on August 26.

“We’ll see how people react to it,” says Petz. “If it’s something everybody loves, we’ll obviously consider doing it again in a bigger and more widely distributed way in the future.”

Hmm. Breakfast beer, anybody?

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The California Drought: Almonds, Water (And Beer)

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You probably noticed that California is living under severe drought conditions, especially since governor Jerry Brown recently imposed restrictions on our water use. One of the frequent industries to bear the brunt of blame is, of course, agriculture, which uses a lot of water to feed the country. But more specifically, a lot of blame has come down on almonds with stories in the Chronicle, the Guardian and even Slate declaring 10 Percent of California’s Water Goes to Almond Farming, among many others. I haven’t paid too much attention to that, mostly for the selfish reason that I’m not much of a fan of almonds, and couldn’t care less if they stopped growing them.

Gizmodo has an interesting article suggesting that all that stuff about almonds was hooey entitled Seriously, Stop Demonizing Almonds. In a persuasive piece, it’s revealed that “Almonds might take 10 percent of the state’s water, but as the same report notes, they’re generating about 15 percent of the state’s total farming value and almost 25 percent of the agricultural exports from the state.” Of course, I’m no expert on these things, but I encourage you to read it and decide for yourself.

But I actually bring this up for wholly non-almond related reasons. Something in the article caught my attention, which is the chart below. It’s an infographic which originally was published in the L.A. Times, which the Gizmodo author, Alissa Walker, characterizes as a “very misguided infographic of “water-hungry foods.” The title indicates it shows the relative amount of water used to make the finished product, “Gallons of water per ounce of food.”

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But look where beer is on the chart. Beverages are in blue. Soymilk looks like it uses the most, but apparently there was an error that’s now been corrected, and it’s actually pineapple juice that’s the biggest water hog, using 6.36 gallons per ounce of juice. Compared to all the drinks listed, beer looks to be the most efficient, and the interactive portions of the chart on the L.A. Times website indicates that beer uses 1.96 gallons to produce one ounce of beer. But even that seems high.

A bunch of years ago I wrote a feature article for All About Beer entitled It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green: The Greening of America’s Breweries, that examined the steps breweries were taking to lighten their burden on the planet, not just with water, but all sorts of things. One thing I learned was that brewing used roughly a 10-to-1 ratio of water, meaning they use 10 gallons for every gallon of beer. At that time, I also found. “Examining smart ways to conserve water, several breweries have reduced that ratio to four or five-to-one and Uinta Brewery from Utah has gotten it down to 3-to-1.” More recently, the Brewers Association’s Water and Wastewater: Treatment/Volume Reduction Manual claims that the average is now more like 7-to-1 gallons, with a few breweries actually below 3-to-1. Two years ago, Environmental Leader reported that MillerCoors managed to get their ratio of water use down to “3.82 barrels of water per barrel of beer.”

But even staying with a ratio of 10-to-1 for ease of math, this seems egregiously high. Converting the L.A. Times figure of 1.96 gallons to 1 ounce figure to ounces, it becomes 250.88 ounces of water per ounce of beer, or a 251-to-1 ratio, or 25 times reality, and undoubtedly more.

So where did this figure come from? All the Times reveals about its methodology is this. “Totals were converted to U.S. gallons per ounce (weight). Beverage values were additionally converted into fluid ounces using the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.” But that doesn’t really tell us where they got the numbers they’re basing this on. It doesn’t really tell us anything. But one thing seems clear, breweries are relatively efficient in their water use, much more so than is being reported during the California drought. And that brings us back to a statement U.S. Davis professor Charlie Bamforth recently made, which seems even more relevant in light of this. “When in drought, drink more beer.”

Don’t Bet Dollars To Donuts Or Drinking

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I think we can all agree that doughnuts are high in calories. I suspect few people would try to defend them as being a health food. Alcohol, on the other hand, is trickier. There are clear health benefits and, for some, health risks, too. But in order to paint alcohol as something worse than it is, prohibitionist groups feel no need to be truthful or avoid being misleading. To wit, today Alcohol Justice tweeted that “[t]here are the same amount of calories in a glass of wine as there are in a doughnut.”

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To ad insult to injury, the image they used to hammer home their point depicts not one doughnut, as the text is singular, but a pile of them, in fact eleven doughnuts are visible, though some just partially. And look at that glass of wine. Does that look like the standard 5 ounces? It sure doesn’t to me. That looks like a short pour, all in effort to deceive and mislead, as if just a tiny amount of wine is equal to nearly a dozen doughnuts.

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The truth, of course, is different. A standard glass of red wine — 5 ounces — is around 125 calories, while a doughnut is 195 calories. That’s from doing a simple Google search for calories in a glass of red wine and calories in a doughnut. Not surprisingly, calories in doughnuts vary widely, and according to a list on Calorie Lab can range from around 100 to nearly 400, and apparently Krispy Kreme doughnuts are even higher, ranging from 200 to 400.

Alcohol Justice included a link with their tweet to a story at Redbrick, a student publication from the University of Birmingham in England. That’s also where they snagged the photo of the glass of wine. Who knows where the pile of doughnuts came from.

The article AJ is using for their own purposes, Should Alcohol Show Calories?, has its own share of inconsistencies, not that they’d matter to Alcohol Justice. Redbrick states that a “large glass of wine is about 200 calories, which is the same as a doughnut” but then, of course, it links to a British drinks calculator showing that a standard glass of wine is 175 ml, or less than 6 ounces. So to make their analogy of a doughnut and a glass of wine being equivalent they have to pour a larger glass than is considered the standard amount. Naturally, AJ ignores that and even tries their best to make it appear that drinking a small glass of wine is like eating almost a dozen doughnuts, at least that’s the visual message they’re sending.

I had hoped we’d see more honesty from the prohibitionists in 2015, but I guess that was a foolish hope on my part. I think I need a doughnut, or maybe a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which at 175 calories is still less than my glazed doughnut.