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The taste of ’95.

Most of the cuisine of my senior year of college isn’t worth revisiting.

Mostly I remember lots and lots of steamed rice with soy sauce, and too much macaroni and cheese from a box, not to mention lots of take-out.

Another staple of my kitchen table brought together two food items sacred to any college senior — beer and pizza.

Someone in the newsroom of the Boston U. Daily Free Press had lucked into a fact-a-day calendar put out by Samuel Adams, the hometown brewer that, in those days, was at the forefront of the developing craft-brew movement.

One of the page-a-day entries featured a dirt-simple recipe for thick-crust pizza.

All it took was white flour, wheat flour, baking powder and a bottle of Sam Adams Boston Lager, along with whatever toppings were desired.

The recipe, in my unsteady hand.

I didn’t often have Sam Lager in my fridge back then, due to its relative cost. But I always had beer — inoffensive pale golden beer, perfect for mixing into baked goods.

A little tomato sauce and cheese from the nearby Purity Supreme grocery store (dubbed “Poverty Supreme” for its general grunginess), and you had yourself a warm, filling, homemade dinner. Nay — a warm, filling, homemade pizza dinner with beer. What more could a 21-year-old wish for on a chill New England evening?

To this day, my wife and I still have that fact-a-day calendar entry somewhere in our recipe files. It pops up every couple of years.

And you know where I’m going with this: I got the urge into my head to make it again.

Even though I have come to strongly prefer crisp, thin-crust pizza. Even though I am no longer 21. And even though I should know better than to do stuff like this … I still wanted to do it anyway.

So, I provisioned myself today with the bare necessities, and set about cooking.

I should have opted for either Sam Lager (to be true to the recipe) or some trashy canned beer (to be historically accurate.)

Instead, faced with a dizzying variety of beer, I chose a decent-looking lager more or less at random — Frankenmuth Brewery Pilsener, from Frankenmuth, Michigan. I knew it wouldn’t be too hoppy, anyway, which is the biggest concern when you cook with beer.



The main ingredient goes in.

Jarred pasta sauce is true to 1995, though the Wegmans house brand is probably better than whatever I was buying then.


Ready for the oven. Yes, there are some onions scattered over one corner. I’m weird like that.

Thirty minutes at 425 degrees produced a nicely done if rather dark-topped pizza. (I seem to remember they looked like that in 1995, too.)

Done. (And poorly lit. It didn’t really look quite this diseased.)

Side-angle shot shows thickness of crust.

I thought it was OK, maybe even better than I remembered.

The crust was fairly light and not too bitter — it tastes a little of beer, but not in a bad way. The whole wheat flour lent the recipe a little bit of heft without making it leaden. The tomato sauce and cheese, meanwhile, were tomato sauce and cheese.

My kids weren’t totally sold on it; at one point my younger son referred to it as “gross-crust pizza.”  Most of the pizza in the pan — I’d say 85 percent of it — disappeared anyway.

I might actually make this again on some weekend night when I find myself short on inspiration and bereft of ingredients except cheese, sauce, flour and beer.

I couldn’t tell you anything I learned in my senior-year college classes, but I’m glad to offer you a quick and useful pizza recipe if you want it.

My parents must be speechless with disappointment.


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