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Oct 02, 2014

Beer Break

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Beer Break Vol. 2, No. 20
Put a little hops in your doughnuts

Feb. 21, 2002

As you can imagine, Prohibition was not particularly good for the beer industry. However, many breweries were clever enough to find ways to make money. The most obvious was selling low alcohol "near" beer. Another was to manufacture soft drinks. There were also things you wouldn't think of - for instance, Anheuser-Busch used its distribution network to deliver frozen eggs in large tins.

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There were also those who sold beer-related products with a wink and a nod. For instance, Premier Malt Products shipped malt extract under a variety of names - Blue Ribbon and Banner were two of them - out of Peoria Heights, Ill., starting in 1925. And when Prohibition ended, Premier Pabst Corp. went immediately to making beer in Peoria Heights.

White Banner, produced with only the "finest Barley malt and prime fresh Pacific Coast Hops," sold enough three-pound tins that it also offered a premium book (like Green Stamps). You could get a 25-piece breakfast set with 144 labels, a big league model fielder's glove with 117 labels or a mantel clock with 107.

That's a lot of malt extract. What do you think people did with it, particularly the cans that were hop flavored? Might they have brewed beer? That or they made really big batches of baked beans and doughnuts. The malt extract companies handed out booklets "To the housewives of America" full of recipes like that. The only thing is most only required a tablespoon or so of extract.

We had planned to offer several recipes this week, but there are so many stories we think you should take the time to read (links coming up) so here's what went into the French Doughnuts:

6 cups bread dough
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon Blue Ribbon Malt Extract (hop-flavored)
1 teaspoon mace
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour

Other recipes included: Corn Fritters, Meat Loaf, Sweet Potato Cookies, Shrimp Cocktail Sauce, Malted Milk Rice Pudding, Baked Bananas, Japanese Salad Dressing and plenty more dishes you'd probably work up a thirst while making.

Must read: Thinking about excellence

It's been a big week for beer stories - with results in from the Brewing Industry International Awards and the controversy about Britain's plan to end its Beer Orders - but if you can take time for just one make it this one posted at The Belgian Beer Escort. It's from Tim Webb, author of CAMRA's outstanding "The Good Beer Guide to Belgium and Holland."

He asks: "What on Earth is happening to Belgian beer? Why are your brewers trying so hard to make it ordinary?"

He has nice things to say about American brewers and beer drinkers, but that is not the only point. There are many, in fact. He writes:

"When the excitement dies down, the problem for the same exporters is that their better quality products have been made mediocre by a perceived need for them to be just as accessible. The fact is that the world's finest beverages are not easy to drink. Like the world's finest foods, they are 'acquired' tastes, which once acquired are held in the highest regard.

"A couple of months ago British beer sales consolidated to a thirty year low. No great surprise. British beer production has, during that time, been focused on making cheap and unnoticeable forms of alcohol for the easily pleased. Flimsy character has been diluted further as bioengineering finds cheaper ways of producing larger batches of adequate fluids.

"Meanwhile the rest of the consumables market had been nudging standards upwards because the post-war generations have wanted to grow old and fat with a sense of style. Having decided to be a mass-production, low quality product, beer has nowhere to go in a more stylish drinks market.

"Some years ago the French and Italian wine negociants began to ask and get top dollar for their increasingly lazily produced famous labels. The reaction from the trade was an influx of wines from the 'New World,' which took complacent producers by surprise. Big, well-produced, top quality lines from Australia, New Zealand, California, Chile, Argentina and the new South Africa appeared at a rapid rate, not just on the shelves of supermarkets and off licenses but in the best restaurants.

"Such wines took off because they were better. Not just better value but better made and better tasting. And it has taken a decade for French and Italian wine makers to claw back their reputation among this generation of wine buyers and their children."

Take the time to read it all.

Vitamin-fortified beer

This story certainly qualifies for good reading (with the others below) but we wanted to make doubly sure you didn't miss it. Officials in Scotland are investigating an idea to add the vitamin thiamin -- also known as Vitamin B1 -- to beer because it might reduce alcohol-related health problems. The government has begun an investigation into the possibility of asking brewers to introduce the vitamin into their products.

Can you imagine that happening in the United States? We're not sure how brewers might feel but we can guarantee you that the neo-Prohibitionists would be up in arms. This would make beer even better for you than it already is.

Pairing of the week

Caesar Salad with Focaccia, in this case from one of the Il Vicino's in the Southwest, with Il Vicino's Wet Mountain IPA. The hoppy IPA complements a solid dose of garlic in the salad. The Focaccia, which includes honey in the recipe, stands fine by itself.

Tasting notes
From the Celebrator Beer News Blind Tasting Panel

CHOCOLATE STOUT
Brewed by Rogue Ales in Oregon
Hints of vanilla, peanuts and even chocolate-covered nuts seem hidden in this wonderfully complex beer's aroma. Since it's actually made with imported chocolate, it's not surprising that you get a big hit of chocolate flavor and a dry, linger aftertaste.

FAT DOG STOUT
Brewed by Stoudt's Brewing Co. in Pennsylvania
Light roasted aromas and soft, rich, creamy flavors. Well balanced and a slightly nutty aftertaste lingering in an otherwise clean finish.

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