In every culture, there are touchstones that serve as access points into the history, morality, economics and the everyday life of its citizens. Sports, religion, politics—even food and drink can serve this purpose. In Beer & Food: An American History, Bob Skilnik provides a compact history of the relationship between beer, food and the development of the American culture.

From beer’s influences during colonial times to modern cooking with beer, Skilnik takes us on a journey that proves that beer is food and beer is history. Published by Jefferson Press, Beer & Food: An American History tells us how beer has fit into the lives of Americans of every generation. From the early settlers in Virginia who discovered a way to brew “a good drink from Indian corn” to the early days of the modern American craft beer movement, Skilnik uncovers interesting tidbits about brewing and America.

The book stays true to its linking of beer with food by including a range of 90 beer-related recipes for just about every skill level.

For homebrewers interested in early colonial brewing techniques, there are directions for making spruce beer. There is also a good discussion of how World War II grain rationing changed the flavor of beer and altered the American palate towards lighter lagers for generations to come.

Skilnik is an alumnus of the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago and contributes to the food section of the Chicago Tribune. For anyone interested in why certain foods became associated with beer and how segments of our country’s beer and food companies have rebounded from bland to flavorful, Beer & Food is a primer that covers some interesting ground.