Hops of Galicia, Beer of Lopatyn

The post that follows in effect is the second part of my previous post, “Pictures From a Brewery”.

Hops in the Austrian Empire

Hop-growing in the former Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia was an established but relatively small-scale business up to World War I. Prior to 1850 one source, Penny Cyclopedia (1838), states “a few hops” were grown, so a cottage industry at best.

By 1879 hop-growing is on a more solid footing. The Journal of the Society of Arts was particularly approving of quality, stating at their best Galician hops could hardly be distinguished from classic Bohemian Saaz.

The bulk of the culture was in the eastern section of the purple area shown, comprising the Lvov, Tarnopol, and Stanislawow districts, viz. Eastern Galicia.


(Image attribution: Kai Kotzian, year of creation: 2005. Source: Wikipedia Commons at this link).

To the north is Volhynia, then in the Russian Empire, also known for hops historically as I discussed earlier. Although Galician hop quality could be good as noted, as in other parts of Austro-Hungary, occasionally the crop failed or was seriously reduced.

In 1897 production for Galicia was about 1,000,000 lbs. Bohemia, long the star for production and topmost quality, outpaced it more than tenfold. See in Hops: in their Botanical, Agricultural, and Technical Aspect and as an Article of Commerce by Emanuel Gross (1900), whence this table is taken:



In 1911 the American Daily and Consular Trade Reports reported hop output of Galicia about on par with ten years earlier, although swings in annual production could be quite variable, reflecting weather and hop culture factors.

Hops and Galicia After World War I

In 1921, hence just after World War I, the Journal of the Institute of Brewing reported the hop fields of Galicia were “completely devastated” due to the war. I am not clear if there was revival in the interwar years, perhaps there was on a small scale.

In recent years hop culture exists in numerous parts of Ukraine, of limited scale. Eastern Galicia though, which is part of modern Ukraine, appears to raise no or little hops. It is not listed (that I could see) in the 2018 study Beer and Hop Branches of Ukraine: Conjuncture and Integration by T. Pryimachuk, A. Protsenko, R. Rudyk, and T. Shtanko.

While around 1900 Galicia did about as well in hop culture as Styria including for yield, Styria became a recognized hop production area especially for the Styrian Fuggle variety. At least on paper similar promise attended early hop culture in Galicia, but the end result differed.


The novelist Asher Barash memorialized small-scale Galician brewing in his book Pictures From a Brewery (1929 in Hebrew, 1971 in English). I have little doubt the beer he describes had the stamp of terroir. That beer was made in “L.”, signifying likely Lopatyn, the village in Eastern Galicia where Barash grew up.

The beer of L. as the book describes resulted from barley sourced from local agriculture, malted onsite at the brewery. Hops too were sourced from local growers. No matter the attempted replication of the Bohemian gold standard, Eastern Galician hops had to demonstrate local qualities, terroir if you will.

This is the pattern of hop growing world-wide except to a degree where intensive cultivation including irrigation can produce a relatively consistent product, as in Washington State in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

Lopatyn’s Beer

Barash also wrote that the beer of L. was commended for its quality by visitors from the “Halperin” brewery in Brody, the chief town of the district: see on map above, Lopatyn is a few miles distant.

We know that Halperin’s brewery existed, the modern Polish historian Gregory Gembala mentions it as a leased undertaking in his paper The Role of Jews in the Polish Beer Industry. He describes it this way:

  • Brody Stare (Aleksander Heilpern)

Gembala does not mention Lopatyn, but other sources state brewing took place there ahead of World War I and apparently into the 1930s. A 1907-1913 Galician business directory shows the names of Lopatyn residents engaged in brewing, the spirits trade, and propination, or rights granted by a noble landowner to brew, distill or sell alcohol.

See in top-left (the name Lopatyn appears on the previous page where the entry starts):



The names, e.g. Leon Friedmann for brewing, do not correspond to those in Barash’s novel. The brewery of L. was managed by his heroine Hanna Aberdam, who signed the brewery lease according to the book. No similar name appears in the directory for Lopatyn at least for 1907-1913.

It is possible by this period she was no longer involved in brewing, but I doubt in any case he would have used her real name.

Note however the hop trade is mentioned, via the name Distenfeld. This was one of the founding families of Jewish Lopatyn. The patriarch came from Volhynia, as described in a history of Lopatyn Jewry included in the memorial website Jewish Generations.

The account includes a hand-drawn map of the town. The key shows the location of the brewery and distillery (item 11). The oblong shown was perhaps the pond, or “lake” in the book, along which both lay. I included in my previous post an image of what may be that water today, where a distillery still operates.

For those interested, which I hope are all reading, the Jewish Generations page sets out in graphic, sadly disturbing detail what became of Lopatyn’s Jews after the start of World War II.

I think it likely Asher Barash plumbed both his creative process and diverse sources for his story, not excluding the Lopatyn brewery; how could it be otherwise? That he drew the general lines of small-scale, manorial brewing in Austrian Galicia I have no doubt.

For their part, the beer of Lopatyn, and the beer of Brody, had to have a regional stamp. They are a taste forever lost, as are the Jewish communities that produced them, in those places, at that time.

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“Pictures From a Brewery” by Asher Barash

In 1929 in the British Mandate of Palestine Asher Barash (1889-1952) was one of an emerging generation of writers. He wrote mainly short stories and novels, including to memorialize Jewish life in the Galicia he had left behind, in 1914 when he emigrated to pre-Mandate, or Ottoman, Palestine.

In this regard he was similar to S.Y. Agnon, a better-known writer and Nobel laureate (1966), who came to Palestine some years before him from the same part of Europe. Barash is considered a highly realistic writer, seeking to portray Galician life and its characters in all their rich variety when the territory was still ruled by Austro-Hungary.

He wrote the novel Pictures From a Brewery in Hebrew starting in 1915. The book was completed and published in its entirety in Palestine in 1929. Many chapters are portrayals of characters in his drama, and can stand on their own. An instance is the sharp portrait of a German-Jewish brewer, always called “Herr Lieber”, or the accountant, “Reb Simha”.

This image is drawn from a page for the book at Biblio.com:



The book was re-published with his other works in Israel in the 1950s. Only in 1971 did it appear in English (translation by Katie Kaplan), issued by Bobbs-Merrill in New York. The plot concerns a brewery in a town only described as “L.”. This is surely a cipher for Barash’s birthplace of Lopatyn, in the Brody district in eastern Galicia, now in Republic of Ukraine.

Lopatyn was and is a small town, today about 3,200 people, surrounded by fields and forests. Most residents even before World War I were of Ukrainian stock. The town then comprised about 10% Jews, who were mainly Hassidim following either the Husiatyn or Belzer lines (each a particular rabbinical dynasty).

While pious in a life dominated by ritual and learned study, the Jews of (historical) Lopaytn, by my research again, were engaged in normal commercial activities. Some were farmers, some shopkeepers and peddlers, some traded in grain or hops or animal stock. The town also had a brewery and distillery. Similar background appears for the town of L. in the Barash book as well.

The heroine of the book is Hanna Aberdam, called Mrs. Aberdam or in the Polish honorific Pani Aberdam. The period described is not made explicit but seems to be the first years of the 1900s, by which time she has run the brewery for 30 years, under lease from a Polish grandee called Count or Graf (the German form) Stefan Molodetzky.

Molodetzky in turn is described as a scion of the Zamoiski nobility, often spelled today Zamoyski. While based to the west in Poland this undoubted historical family** also held estates in Lopatyn, although Molodetzky himself appears a fictional personage.

Mrs. Aberdam is described as a kindly person, born of a well-to-do merchant family. When her first husband, a pious scholar, dies young, she re-marries a shopkeeper of no great business ability and decides to enter business herself to provide for her family.

She leases the town brewery, which previously had gone bankrupt. It overlooked a body of water called in the book “the lake”, fed by underground springs.  At this she proves a signal success, the result of her good memory, facility with figures, and good knowledge of Polish.

A theme in the book is how the successful Jewish businesses in these small towns were an organic part of their community, helping to support townspeople through employment, and co-religionists with charity. For example, Aberdam would lead a drive to provide a dowry for an indigent bride, or help Jews who lost their homes in a fire.

She is depicted as an ethically motivated employer who charged a reasonable price for her beer. The beer was generally well-regarded including by owners of larger breweries in nearby towns. (Sometimes it was “too bitter” though!).

The town of L. also counted Polish gentry, the local canon certainly, the postmaster, the forester, and others who helped run the town. Its structure was semi-feudal in nature, in a pattern derived from a much older history beyond my scope here.

The Count was represented locally by his agent Pan Grabinski who, with his wife Pani Yuzia and children, are described with great warmth by Barash. He had to know or know of persons similar to them to write the way he does, and similarly of Pan Yashinski, the forester who assisted the Count and Grabinski for that part of estate management.

These officials are described as courteous and fair in their dealings with Mrs. Aberdam and her family. They harbour none of the hostility to Jews which Jewish history in that part of the world amply demonstrates, and which appears in the book in other contexts.

The book focuses on people, explaining their strengths and foibles, both Jews and others. Themes include the varying attitudes to Jews among Poles and Ukrainians as mentioned, the impact of modernity on Jewish piety and ethics, and not least for my purposes, how a small Galician brewery operated in those last years of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

The brewery was small, similar no doubt to the smallest, or “agricultural” breweries I discussed in my recent series on Jewish-owned or -operated breweries of that period. I’ll summarize some of its salient features as described by Barash, but encourage all interested in beer (or Jewish) history of that period and place to read the book.

The beer is described as “light”, selling to a willing market both in and beyond the town. Usually it was of good quality, due to Herr Lieber’s efforts. It is not called a lager but evidently was one, as the role of ice in production is stressed. The ice was cut in “greenish” blocks from the lake.

The wort was cooled in open vats. The “wirze“, a misspelling of the German word for wort, was sold to people as a beverage and given to the poor for free, so (my take on it) a kind of kvass.* Jews in Lopatyn used a concentrated form to sweeten babies’ food.

A “vintage” version of the beer, not otherwise explained, was donated by Mrs. Aberdam for religious celebrations, in particular an annual event where the two Hassidic sects joined as one in communal celebration.

Barash writes that in Galician breweries the rule was to engage a German brewer. Lieber, while Jewish, is portrayed as Germanized, both in character and deportment. He was known for example to order lunch from a “Christian” restaurant! His religious observance was minimal compared to the others but he was respected for his devotion to his work.

He spoke little of his work except when brewery experts visited, then he would become loquacious, birds of a feather again. An unvarying topic of conversation with him was that “beer is bread”, evidently something he learned early in Germany.

He was a bachelor who made an attempt at marriage but it ended badly, in a tragi-comic episode related by Barash.

Hops were sourced from growers in the area, mainly Jewish at the time according to Barash. This product was also purchased by Czech brewers when hop culture failed in Bohemia, in which case the price climbed, but Mrs. Aberdam bought a full year’s supply in advance, and was vouchsafed this risk.

The beer was evidently all-malt, as apart Lieber’s German brewing background, for which this is a desideratum, the all-important barley is mentioned numerous times. The brewery had its own maltings underground, as existed for some other breweries in Central and East Europe, as I described earlier for the Teitel brewery.

Numerous personalities of the brewery are described colourfully, e.g. the worker Vanka who for years had the job of pulling bungs from returned empty barrels. He dreamed of rising to stoker, to fuel the wood-fired boiler, and finally reached his goal when an assistant’s position opened in the brewery.

Unfortunately he was given to excess in drink especially in the town tavern on Sunday. He would say indiscreet things including of the brewery foreman, Srael (contraction of Israel), but was always forgiven. The foreman, for his part, incurs some disapproval from Barash for his officious behavior, or so I interpreted the book.

The brewery operated year-round except that during Lent it brewed sporadically, and on holidays of both religions and Saturdays, “they lay off work altogether”.***

The story of Mrs. Aberdam and her family doesn’t end well. I’ll let you read the book to understand why, a product of perfidy both Gentile and Jewish as described in the book, but also perhaps fate, and the simple passage of time.

The book was reviewed in 1974 in Commentary magazine and those wishing to know more can start there.

N.B. In Lopatyn today a building described as a distillery appears in this image, by a small body of water. This may be the lake described in the book. The brewery of Lopatyn prior to WW I probably was up or down the waterside from where the distillery still lays.****

Whether that brewery formed the model for the one in the book I cannot say, but given Barash grew up in Lopatyn, I think elements of his story are probably drawn from its history.

Note: For a follow-up to this post, see Hops of Galicia, Beer of Lopatyn.

Note re image: source of image is linked in text. Image is used for educational and research purposes. All intellectual property thereto belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. All feedback welcomed.


*Barash sometimes calls the wort “menthe“, a word whose origins I have not been able to determine.

**The distinguished British historian Adam Zamoyski is a direct descendant.

***The text is not clear whether Sunday was considered such a holiday, but from context in the book, I think it was.

****In my research I found a statement that this distillery was founded in the Austro-Hungarian period, hence why I link it to the one mentioned in the novel.




Dutch Lunch. Part II.

Part I includes numerous additional references. Although one can multiply these almost indefinitely, I consider that, with the text, the arc of the Dutch lunch has been explained.

Here, by way of postscript or summary, I focus on two images, one from John Goins’ book, the other from the magazine Table Talk, both from the additional references. The second shows a table service for Dutch lunch. The centrepiece is striking, a large stein filled with green hops from the vine.

One wonders where the average homemaker or even restaurateur was expected to fetch such a thing.  Presumably it was thought anyone thinking of hosting a Dutch lunch would find a way.

A restaurateur likely had access via brewery representatives constantly importuning for business.  A homemaker would have to inquire further, but there were a lot of breweries in America before World War I, at least in larger centres.

As noted in Part I, with the approach of the war, and increasing influence of temperance, traditional German accoutrements were adapted to coffee service. The result seems rather awkward – even a small stein was ill-suited to ferry coffee – but “awkward” describes well how the suit of temperance fit the frame of the American body politic and social.

When commenting on the table service image, Table Talk states that either coffee or beer is served, so its caption was more decorous. Note that caption explains the meal is gathered from “the side”, in keeping with the informal nature of a Dutch lunch.

John Goins, as seen below, was not quite enthused for the use of doilies in this context, seeming to prefer, well, a bare boards approach. He deferred finally to the wishes of “the American hostess”.

I have had countless meals in brewpubs. Never can I recall a stein or vase filled with hops on the table. True, the effect would be dampened with hop pellets (a processed form commonly used), but brewpubs often use the full flower form, or know how to get it certainly.

Even that would make a display if artfully arranged, where hops on the vine can’t be procured, that is. There is always a new angle, which sometimes proves to be rather old.

Brewpubs reading, hark. But let’s leave the doilies in the past.*




Postscript to the postcript, but for what it is worth, Wikipedia details the (truly) Dutch koffietafel, spelled in some accounts kaffietafel.

concludes this look.

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*I claim no expertise but think the doily idea may also fetch from Germany, or perhaps Holland in this case.


Dutch Lunch. Part I.

Boon Companion to Lager Beer – Overview

Before broaching the Dutch lunch, I’ll start with the “free lunch”, a topic that acquired cultural dimensions in the U.S. far beyond simply a matter of tavern history. The term itself entered the lexicon as metaphor to signal something ostensibly but not truly free.

Of course, the saloon’s free lunch came at a price, the need to buy beer. The late Madelon Powers, who chaired the department of history at the University of New Orleans, authored in 1998 the impressive Faces Along the Bar: Lore and Order in the Workingman’s Saloon, 1870-1921 (University of Chicago Press).

A chapter in the book running some 20 pages describes the origins, diversity and fate of the free lunch as a national social institution of the pre-Volstead era.

The book makes clear, as do other sources, that while cheese, rye and other breads, cold cuts, and salted fish often formed centrepiece of the free lunch, it could take many forms. Sometimes regional location influenced this, chili say in the Southwest, sometimes the ethnic origin of the proprietor.

An Italian-American barkeep might offer spaghetti. Therefore, such offerings cut across the pre-1920 constellations of foods that characterized drinking lager on the one hand, and ale and porter on the other.

This understood, my studies suggest that in general, roast beef, steak, mutton, Welsh Rabbit, the lobster, and the oyster were classic foods for ale and porter.

In contrast, cold cuts, sliced Swiss and spreadable German cheeses, smoked and pickled fish including sardines and herring, and cooked dishes typical of mitteleuropa (goulash, sausages, boiled beef) often accompanied lager.

I discussed earlier Virginia Elliott’s book Quiet Drinking issued in late 1933 as Prohibition was ending. It has a chapter on foods suitable for beer. The traditions of pre-1920 end as completely mingled, supplemented by ideas of the author, a modern touch in itself.

In part I think this derived simply from the passage of time, but also ale became less defined after 1933 – more akin to the cold, sparkling lager that almost effaced it by 1919, while porter remained marginal, as even before World War I.

Only a few people, e.g. at Keen’s Chop House in New York, recalled in the 1930s that a glass of old-fashioned ale was best suited to the mutton chop, as I chronicled earlier.

Returning to pre-1920, in the lager constellation of foods we must rank the “Dutch lunch” at or near the top for eminence. And this clearly had a German origin, as many sources suggest. The word Dutch has to be a corruption of deutsch, meaning German.

The dish first appears in the late 1800s, our earliest spotting is 1872, see in additional references appended below. From a canvass of many sources it appears the Dutch lunch was originally, and remained in some degree, an essentially German collation.

Cold cuts such as ham and salami, and wursts liver and other, formed the basis with cold cheeses sliced or spread, rye and pumpernickel breads, and salted or smoked fish.

While a truly Dutch meal, koffietafel, can be similar in construction, despite New York’s undoubted Dutch heritage numerous indices point to a German inspiration for the American Dutch lunch.

In time but still early on, foods deemed lager-friendly but not specifically German might appear in the Dutch lunch. Pickled tripe, say, chili, or spaghetti. The animating idea was a meal that could be assembled quickly and served informally. Despite the moniker lunch, a Dutch lunch might be served any time of the day.

It became a socializing staple in general American society, served at everything from whist games to college suppers, club events to the post-theatre. As noted, in its classic form, and persisting yet through the decades, a Teutonic stamp was evident – which meant beer.

This is made express in this 1890s menu, reproduced in a journal devoted to the ice and refrigeration trade (no ethnic context surrounds the event, in other words):



Beer is mentioned, lager was a safe bet. The Dutch lunch remained popular for post-theatre despite some food writers warning its digestibility posed risks when eating so late.

The Dutch lunch survived into the 1930s and beyond, I found instances into the 1970s and later, usually from fraternal organizations or other clubs, but the name at any rate was on its last legs.

As further indication beer was a subtext, a 1909 Missouri Valley Times article described (an evident) collegiate dinner where “coffee in steins” substituted for:

…the proverbial beverage which usually accompanies the ingredients of a Dutch lunch.

This was an interesting event, as after various games the “senior boys” entertained the “senior girls” at midnight with the dinner, an inversion from the usual social pattern at the time.

True, the boys didn’t have to cook really, but still. There must be something (laudable) about Missouri.

But who remembers the Dutch lunch today, in our cellphone age? Almost no one. Below are further sources that support and enlarge on the above. Peruse at your will.

Additional References.

So far, the earliest Dutch Lunch we found was in January 1872 at what seemed a tavern (“Peep o’ Day House”), advertised in Delaware’s Wilmington Daily Commercial. In December 1881 in Kentucky, a Greek letter society hosted a Dutch lunch.

The menu appeared in The Scroll of Phi Delta Theta. vol. 5, Part 2 – vol. 7 (November 1880 – June 1883). Evidently German-based, with “lager beer” served, only minor elements were American, e.g. chow-chow. The Wilmington notice does not disclose the offerings.

These subsequent references illustrate chronologically salient points in the arc of the Dutch lunch.

  1. High-end menu from Bismarck Restaurant, Chicago, in (1899) The American Pure Food Cook Book and Household Economist. Note the hot dishes served, mostly Austro-German, and translation of German terms into English. See at p. 426. The Bismarck was said to have popularized the Dutch lunch, but this version, in any case, was atypically luxe.
  2. 1899 description of Dutch lunch event in the journal The Process Photogram, mentioning “several kegs of beer” were consumed. See p. 126.
  3. 1904 article in periodical Table Talk picturing a table service for Dutch lunch, see p. 481. German steins are shown with suggestion to hold coffee but an extra-large stein in centre is filled hops! Text goes further than caption, stating beer or coffee can fill steins.
  4. 1906 article in Ithaca Daily News also describes Dutch lunch in German terms, e.g. schweizer kase, kakao, pretzels, kafflekuchen, zwiebach, gurken and Haringssealat.
  5. 1907 letter to editor of journal What to Eat argues Dutch lunch is German in origin and beer goes with the meal. The writer had relations in Holland. See p. 35.
  6. John Goins’ manual (1908, 1914) The American Waiter includes a list of suggested dishes of both German and non-German character, see at 209-210. Goins makes clear American hospitality has enlarged the original German dimensions of the meal.
  7. Americanized 1916 Sears Roebuck Dutch lunch menu reproduced in (2010) Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865-1920 by Kristin Hoganson. See p. 144
  8. In (1916) The American Jewish World, an advertisement in Minneapolis by a Jewish delicatessen advertises a Dutch lunch that includes kosher corned beef and wursts. Note two lager beer ads adjacent to delicatessen’s ad.
  9. 1917 issue of The Sun in New York advertises Bevo, a near-beer of Anheuser-Busch. Ad describes a further Americanized Dutch lunch, quite a pot pourri that incorporates lobster, spaghetti, sardines, swiss cheese, goulash, chile-con-carne, sausages, and more­. Bevo of course would have tasted somewhat like the brewery’s classic lagers.
  10. 1936 ad by Simon Pure Brewing in Binghampton, NY, pictures a Dutch Lunch and touts Simon Pure Beer and Old Abbey Ale to go with it. First ad we found that actually mentions ale for a Dutch lunch, but it’s probably not the first.
  11. In 1960, Dutch lunch is described and pictured in California’s Santa Cruz Sentinel, described as “old-fashioned”.
  12. Italian-American bar Gus’ Place in Pueblo, Colorado still offers a Dutch lunch (2021), for which it is reputed. See details and restaurant sign at Trip Advisor. Dish features cold cuts and cheese. See detailed description in 1992 study Old Ties, New Attachments: Italian-American Folklife in The West, ed. by David Taylor and John Williams.

Part II concludes this look.

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Pre-Prohibition I.P.A and its Culinary World

Dwelling Together in Unity

I examined the legend of New Jersey’s Ballantine India Pale Ale earlier, a very important beer in American and now craft brewing history. As related there an attempt was made some years ago to revive the brand, but it did not “take”.

I hope the brand owner, Pabst, will try again, as there is great potential there, surely.

In these notes I consider a striking ad for the brand from 1910, printed in the Newark Evening News (via Chronicling America). This was at or near the peak of pre-First World War American brewing, at least for states that had no intention to adopt prohibition (locally) until federal law mandated it from 1919.

New Jersey was a stalwart, and retained its breweries and vibrant beer market up to the start of national prohibition (1919-1933).



The size and position of the ad shows that top-fermented beer still commanded strong affection in New Jersey, despite the dominance of lager in American brewing by then. Ballantine did brew lager by this time – “beer” strictly in former American parlance (from lager bier) – but pale ale still appealed to many, especially in the Northeast.

In New Jersey, specific historical influences reinforced that appeal, which I discussed in the post Of Pie, Paterson and Pints.

The ad shown also highlights the foods typically associated with ale and porter then: steak, lobster, heated cheese, and oysters. That about sums up the food picture for such beer, although allied foods might be served, the mutton chop, meat pie, other shellfish, etc.

The main food groups were clear though, especially their manner of preparation. I showed in other writing how some restaurants specialized in “musty ale”, a variant of pale ale, and lobster.

I chronicled the American Welsh Rabbit tradition, with its strong connections to Bass ale and similar beer, and the great alliance of steak and ale via the communal “Beefsteak”, a vestige of the old public eating.*

A similar tally for lager, whose Central European connotations were still strong in 1910, would include cold cuts. a cheese plate (cold), pickled fish, sandwiches, and pretzels.**

Each great family – lager and its innumerable types, and porter and ale with their subdivisions, had a food family peculiar to it. By the post-Prohibition era the families intermarried so to speak, accentuated by the fall of ale and porter in the American affection.***

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*See for example here.

**Needless to say there was always some crossover. Ale could be taken with a cheese sandwich, say. Some had to like steak with lager. But broadly this division holds, by my research, apart the special subject of the saloon free lunch. By definition a choice of the proprietor not saloon patron, the free lunch could follow the binary suggested in these notes, but might depart from it, reflecting the region in which the saloon carried on business or the ethnic background of the owner. This special subject has been studied by scholars, which I’ll advert to in the next post.