Category Archives: History

Book Review: Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl

This book has almost nothing to do with beer. However, it has quite a bit to do with booze in general.

If you’re the sort of person that geeks out over food and drink, you’ll probably really enjoy this book. It’s well written, heavily researched, and full of first hand accounts of the sort that generally we’re now reduced to read reading about in 140 characters or less. My favorite is a story of an admiral who made a bowl of punch so large that a ship’s boy rowed around in the middle of it serving the punch to the guests.

The book’s divided into three sections, the first being a general history of the different punches in general and their main ingredients. The second is smaller than the other two, and amounts to an extremely technical discussion of the art of punch making. The third is 30 or so authentic punch recipes, with the original and then the authors best guess on how to approximate it using modern ingredients. It has the distinction of having recipes that include two of the oddest ingredients I’ve ever seen: ambergris and hydrochloric acid.

This book is good, if you happen to be a member of the target audience.If you’re a major food\beverage geek like me, check it out. If you’re a history buff, check it out. If not, well the author is talented but he’s not the Carl Sagan of Punch.



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Filed under Books, History

If I had Possession..

In honor of the up coming apocalypse let me present a list of appropriately named beers that I’ve had:

  • La Fin Du Monde (Unibroue)
  • Hades (Great Divide)
  • Belzebuth (Brasserie Grain d’ Orge)
  • Damnation (Russian River)
  • Salvation (Russian river)
  • Salvation (Avery)
  • Hog Heaven (Avery)
  • Judgement Day (Lost Abbey)
  • Ragnarok Smoked Lager (Elysian)
  • Duvel (Duvel)
  • Old Nick (Youngs)

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Filed under Beer, History, Music

The Beer I Had For Breakfast (wasn’t bad)

Now, I’ll be the first to admit: When I’m making breakfast I generally skip over the shelf of my fridge dedicated to holding beer. However, I love waffles. Especially Sourdough waffles. What I don’t like nearly as much is remembering to feed the sourdough the night before I want the waffles. These are (at least in my opinion) a good standby option for those days when my (or in all honesty,  most likely my wife’s) ambition is greater in the morning than my memory was the night before. This is my adaptation of a recipe in The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger.  According to her, the use of beer in pancakes was pretty common in pioneer cookbooks.

Apologies to those of you without waffle irons, my suggestion is get married and put one on your registry.


I’d try and stay with sweeter beers for this, a good English Brown (particularly New Castle) or perhaps a good wheat beer might be the way to go (although I imagine you’d loose quite a bit of the clove\banana phenols)  Also, feel free to substitute in a cup or so of whole-wheat flour if you’re so inclined.

I have no idea how many waffles this will make you, it’s entirely dependent on the size of your waffle iron, this makes us about 8 cups of batter.

I’ve found the best method for keeping the waffles warm is to stick them in an oven on the lowest temperature setting directly on the rack.

Beer Waffles

3 C unbleached flour.

1/4 C dark brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 12 oz. beers

1/4 C milk

2 eggs

8 Tbsps (one stick) melted butter

1 Tbsp lemon juice

4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix together dry ingredients and, in another bowl, the liquids.  Let sit in fridge anywhere from 30 min. to over night.

Preheat waffle iron to medium-high (or whatever the manufacturer says to do), spray it with veggie\canola oil spray, or brush on butter or cooking oil. Cook for 4-5 or until that ubiquitous and yummy state known as “Golden Brown” is reached.




Filed under Cooking, Food, History

Why beer?

Short answer:Because it’s there.

Long and wildly tangential answer found in an old blue book answer form from Introduction to Literature (oddly enough the question it was answering was about the role of the unreliable narrator in Jeff Vandermeer’s novel, Shriek: An Afterword):

Beer makes the world go round. Beer is mankind’s penultimate achievement (surpassed only by going to the moon. Nothing’s cooler than the fact people have been on the moon). Beer is responsible for 75% of all hyperbolic statements, 45% of all made up statistics, and a full 86% of all self referential jokes.

In other words, beer is good.

Of course, so are music, food, fishing, and a myriad of other subjects. So why beer?

Way back when, somebody accidentally left their porridge out.  They came back a several days later, and ate it. Usually that sort of thing had one of three results: Death, illness, or nothing. This time two much more pleasant results were achieved: A solid buzz, and the birth of beer. There is some evidence that there was a third result, a switch from hunter\gatherer culture to an agrarian lifestyle.  Which, according to Sid Meyer, caused a race to literacy so you could build the Great Library, and mooch scientific advancements off of the computer controlled players.  Not only does beer taste good, it’s partially responsible for civilization.

Eventually, people figured out how to reproduce this happy accident. They switched from accidentally leaving porridge out to purposely soaking loaves of a stale barley bread. We know how they did it, because the first known recipe describes the process in a prayer to the Sumerian Beer goddess.  Back then, chances are you only got to try your locally made magic bread drink. Now,  I can walk 10 min. to a corner liquor store and buy magic bread drink from any continent except that cold one with the penguins, some of which are so different from each other they almost seem like different things entirely.

So, we’ve got something that’s good, partially responsible for civilization, has a wide variety of styles, and makes the imbiber more verbose. That’s why beer.











Filed under History