Beer maven scores again

If you want to read about beer, Bob Skilnik is your man.

The Chicago-area writer, author of such books as "The Low-Carb Bartender," "The Drink Beer, Get Thin Diet" and "Beer & Food: An American History," has come up with a small tome that's a good guide for anyone watching their nutrition while keeping beer as part of their diet.

"Does My Butt Look Big In This Beer?" (Gambrinus Media, Plainfield, IL, 100+ pages, $10) is subtitled "Nutritional values of 2,000 worldwide beers." That's the key to remember. Skilnick has worked with brewers around the world to provide nutritional information rarely available to consumers.

"For decades the federal government's attitude toward alcoholic beverages was a hangover from the National Prohibition -- demonic, but a convenient taxation vehicle. Any implication of alcoholic beverages as having nutritive or medicinal qualities was prohibited.

"But, a few years ago, the TTB (Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau), the federal agency that controls labeling requirements for alcoholic beverages, opened up a comment campaign on the labeling issue that drew over 18,000 comments concerning the proposed addition of a nutrition facts label on all alcoholic beverages, similar to what's found on most packaged foodstuffs. About 96% of the comments demonstrated a strong wanting for nutritional labeling," Skilnik says.

In the usual push-and-pull of changing any regulations, Skilnik notes the various pressures put on the government by industry and consumer groups as well as international bodies, actions that have prevented general labeling beyond certain beverage niches.

His book, he says, "cuts through the red tape and gives beer drinkers the kind of sudsy nutritional information that the TTB currently can't."

This is a paperback guide for both the connoisseur and the average Joe or Jane, given that the usual popular beers are included along with such global exotica as Hövels (Germany), Burleigh (Australia), Sinebrychoff (Russia) and Käki (Finland).

Skilnik is a certified brewer and 1991 graduate of Chicago's Siebel Institute of Technology, the oldest brewing school in the U.S., with a degree in brewing technology. He is a former associate editor of the American Breweriana Journal, and a contributor to various publications.

Go here for my review of his book "Beer & Food: An American History."

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