Beer and Wine in Israel

In my post about Jewish Beer and Brewing I discussed Israeli and Palestinian beer. While in Israel, I had the opportunity to taste both Goldstar and Macabee. Goldstar is a medium color lager with a decent flavor and a small hoppy taste. Maccabee was pretty bad, on par with Bud or Pabst. My husband had Nesher Malt, which is a non-alcoholic beer which has been produced  since 1935.

Someone who was on our trip had Dancing Camel beer on tap and said it was very good. Their website has several different beers, some with funny names in the style of Shmaltz Brewing and He’Brew. The food scene in Israel is so amazing that I think it is just a matter of time before Israel has a thriving micro-brewery industry.

We also had a tour at the Carmel Winery in Zikhron Ya’akov. Most American Jews grow up drinking Manishevitz at Passover and think that is the extent of Jewish Kosher wine. The company dates back to 1882,Baron Edmund de Rothschild, owner of Chateau Lafite, helped established it.

Unlike Manishevitz, Carmel’s fine wines are not pasteurized which allows them to have a  better flavor. The wine we tasted was very good and our tour guide was an amazing, extremely stylish woman, originally from  Morocco. Unfortunately I can’t remember her name but I do have some pictures.

The guide is the person on the right
Wine Barrels


We got back from our trip to Israel on Thursday May 28 after being up for about 26 hours. We  had a wonderful time but it has taken a few days to decompress and resume my everyday life. For one thing the weather was fabulous and the plants and flowers were so beautiful. It is not quite as pretty here at home. I plan to post a few entries about the trip, hopefully with pictures. Some will be about beer and alcohol while others will just be about the experiences I had while there.

One afternoon we walked on the rooftops of the Old City of Jerusalem and looked at churches and other buildings. We also went into some of them. One place we visited was the Syrian Church. A woman named Justinia is in charge. She was from Iraq and had been a math teacher. To say she was strict would be an understatement. She made clear that we were to sit properly and not cross our legs. Justina was also devout. She speaks English but prays in Aramaic which was the street language of Jews and early Christians. She spoke to us about a miracle that had occurred at her church and then sang the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 150, the final psalm, both in Aramaic.

The next day we had a teaching about Jerusalem and its many varied meanings for different people. Our teacher, Yardena,  was excellent and she had us each write something about Jerusalem. I wrote the following poem. I haven’t written a poem in probably twenty-five years.

Syrian Church Jerusalem 2009
Syrian Church Jerusalem 2009

At first Justina seems strange
Even crazy and very strict
But as she talks
She almost glows
Exuding her faith and certainty
When she sings
She is whole and holy.


I had planned to write a post or two, but getting ready for a trip has taken most of my time. On Sunday,  my husband and I will leave for a ten day vacation in Israel. I will not be posting while on the trip, but I will write about it when I get back. I certainly hope to try some of the beers I wrote about in Jewish Beer and Brewing.

Revisiting Old Posts

I have recently been thinking about the thirty-eight posts from my pre-wordpress blog.  I  realized that people might want to see what else I have written on a topic and there isn’t an easy way to do that. I thought about re-posting all of them, but that seems like too much work. I also thought about linking to them every time I am on a topic again, but I would get stuck in an endless loop. So I will just remind all of my readers that you can go to  my website and find the old posts. Click here to do so.

Beyond Amethyst: The Conference

This past Friday I attended a conference at Hampshire College about the drinking age and whether it should be changed. Alex Torpey, a graduating student , organized the conference as part of his Division III, or senior project.

Ralph Hexter introduced the keynote speaker and indicated that he feels the issues around the drinking age and drunk driving hinge on responsibility. President Hexter is a signer of the Amethyst Initiative which called for lowering the drinking age to eighteen. Continue reading “Beyond Amethyst: The Conference”

I am a Craft Brewer

The problem with the movie Beer Wars and the video, “I am a Craft Brewer,” (available at Andy Crouch’s site) by Greg Koch, shown at the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston, is that they simplify, to the level of good versus evil, very complex issues. Both also imply that drinking a craft beer is somehow a politic act. (Stephen Beaumont, World of Beer makes a similar point).

Beer Wars implies that supporting small craft beers will strike a blow against monopolistic, big business. “I am a Craft Brewer,” declares that craft brewers are “socially conscious.” How does any of this connect to selling and buying beer to drink? The workers of the large brewers, ABIB and Miller Coors are unionized and have been for over one hundred years. Are workers at “socially conscious” craft breweries unionized? Working in a brewery is hard, physical labor; do Sam Calagione’s one hundred workers receive adequate compensation and full health care coverage? Or is working in a company with a higher moral purpose sufficient compensation?

Both Beer Wars and “I am a Craft Brewer” also present a remarkably un-diverse craft brewing industry; overwhelmingly white and male. Shouldn’t a commitment to diversity be a part of social consciousness?

Before anyone responds that I am expecting too much of a business, that is my point exactly. Neither Beer Wars nor “I am a Craft Brewer” explicitly acknowledges that craft brewers are involved in an economic activity and in that way are no different from the mega brewers.

This was cross-posted from Women Grow Business

“Am I a Woman in Business?” Learning to Promote Yourself the Same Way Businesses Do


Am I a woman in business, a businesswoman?
That is an interesting question for me to contemplate in writing a post for Women Grow Business. I started my website,, and my blog, Musings, because I wrote a book, Brewing Battles: A History of American Beer.

Many years ago, I had a business, Academic Publicity, that provided promotional help for academic authors.

In retrospect, my business plan had a fatal flaw: academics didn’t want to pay for my services.

In general, academics do not think of themselves as writers and thus do not want to pay to increase their book sales. The existence of the book itself punches their tenure ticket. And most academics write only one book. The one major business success I had was getting my husband‘s book, Nazism, the Jews, and American Zionism, 1933-1948 into paperback.

New business, young family, and next steps
At the time that I was running Academic Publicity, I had completed a PH.D in American history and had two small children at home. I had started the business because I was realizing it was unlikely I would be able to get an academic job without significant disruption to my life.

The perfect vision of hindsight
Because of life’s increasing complexity with family, including buying a new home, I ended the business after two years. With the perfect vision of hindsight, I realized that was too short a time to grow a business. I pulled the plug on Academic Publicity so quickly because I was losing money and I already had some feelings of guilt because I had been unable to find an academic position.

I think inadequacy, guilt, and feelings of illegitimacy are all common problems for women as they negotiate between professional goals and family life. I ended the business and quickly looked around for some way to be gainfully employed.

I settled on becoming a nurse.
I have been a nurse for 14 years and have worked in many different healthcare settings. I do not feel that being a nurse replaced being a historian. I brought all the skills and lessons I had acquired from my academic career, my business, and my family life to my new profession. Again, I think this is typical for women.

Many women’s lives do not occur in a linear fashion.
Both male and female baby boomers are famous for second acts and continually reinventing themselves. I believe this has always been truer for women and has certainly been true for me.

Contemplating a book on beer
Although I enjoyed being a nurse, I had always wanted to publish my dissertation as a book and that remained a goal. About seven years ago, with an increased focus, I began to contemplate taking material from my thesis and writing a book on beer. I was fortunate enough to obtain a publishing contract in the spring of 2006 and Brewing Battles was published in December 2007.

I believe persistence was the key to my achieving this long held goal.

And to achieve anything you probably have to have a passion for the endeavor.

Algora Publishing (who published Brewing Battles) is a very small press, providing very little marketing support for my book. So I have had to market the book myself. Luckily, I had the experience from once running my business Academic Publicity to fall back on. However, in the 15 intervening years since I ended the business, publicizing and marketing books changed completely.

I have marketed the book in both traditional and new ways.
I sent out advance copies to various academic and trade journals, hosted a book party, and have given book talks. Of course, almost all of my correspondence and press releases have been via email (…haven’t done any direct mailings). And many blogs also received my press release about Brewing Battles, in addition to traditional print media.

Learning curves and achieving mastery on the blogosphere
The blogosphere represents the most significant change from the world of book marketing 20 years ago. Setting up my own blog was definitely a challenge with several false starts. Every new task I have attempted has come with a new learning curve and a deep sense of accomplishment when I achieve mastery.

Persistence is key here as well.

Finding the answer to “Am I a woman in business?”
So in answer to my original question, I am a writer and that means I am in business for myself. My varied life experiences have taught me that everything in life is about marketing, marketing yourself. Not in a conceited or self-absorbed way but in the sense that…

You have to put yourself forward and promote yourself in the same way that businesses do.


Old Style

A few weeks ago , the Alcohol and Drugs History Society site had a story about Old Style beer.  Old Style Beer was the most famous product of Heileman Brewing Company, the nation’s sixth largest brewer in 1980. Heileman was a victim of the late twentieth century beer wars which saw regional and second tier breweries fall under the advertising onslaught of Anheuser-Busch and Miller. Pabst owns the brand now and the virtual brewer has decided to change the recipe. Pabst is returning to krausening as its’ carbonation method.  The process involves adding  a small amount  of wort that is still fermenting to a already fermented beer.  This is  an older method of adding carbon dioxide to beer.

Old Style
Old Style

Until recently a 24 pack of Old Style cost $13; now it cost $19. Various bars in Nebraska have Old Style on tap; a pitcher used to cost $5.75 now it is $7.25. Many of the nostalgia laden beers that Pabst markets, such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Style, and Schlitz, get much  of their appeal from the low price. Some drinkers have called Old Style, “Old Bile”.

Pabst made these changes in response to declining sales. Most of the brands Pabst manages were regional or second tier breweries from the 1950s to the 1980s or whenever they ceased independent production.  The drinkers of these cheap beers with a long history are far removed from people willing to pay $40 for a three course dinner with beer pairings. That is available today at the Beer Table in Brooklyn New York. (I gave a talk there in the fall) The  charming, small bar/restaurant has three beers on tap; two are Italian and one is Belgian. In many ways drinkers of standard American lager and drinkers of craft beer occupy two completely separate worlds. I am not sure what would ever connect them.

Beer Wars – Act Two

I saw the movie yesterday. You can read my review on U.S. News and World Report. Yesterday the same site had an interview I did with Anat Baron, the director of the movie. Both posts are on Kimberly Palmer’s blog, Alpha Consumer. If you have any comments you can leave them at U.S. News, email me, or leave them here. Once I read what everyone has has to say, I will probably post again. Cheers!


I read  the blog , New Kid on the Hallway which focuses on her leaving the history profession and going to law school. Of course this reminds me of my own professional journey. When I decided to give up trying to get an academic position and went back to school to be a nurse I did that on my own. I had no community of historians, academics or nurses to support me. Fifteen years later blogs exist to connect people with similar interests. I think this is one of the most positive aspects of the “new media”; people can be connected  even if they do not have an institutional or professional affiliation. An independent scholar, a freelancer writer, a self-employed entrepreneur can all find a community and do not have to pursue their goals in social isolation. Blogging does not replace face to face communication and interaction  but it can give someone who has no workplace to go to a greater sense of identity.