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They've Got the Taste Down Cold

(By Julia Ewan -- The Washington Post)
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pizza. Beer. Pizza 'n' beer. Pizza beer!

It wasn't quite that simple, but home brewers Tom and Athena Seefurth of St. Charles, Ill., say their Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer is "the world's first culinary beer," designed for use in cooking and as a pairing with food.

The couple developed their first batch in 2006, using fresh tomatoes, garlic, oregano and basil in the mash and hops processes. Now about 800 cases a week are manufactured at the Sprecher Brewery in Glendale, Wis., a Milwaukee suburb.

Their beer "is not for putting in the cup holder of your tractor," says Tom Seefurth, nicknamed "Chef" by his vacation pals in Florida. Pry off the cap of a 16-ounce bottle (sold for $1.99 to $2.49) and the aroma of pizza topping, especially the herbs, comes through. The light-golden brew has a slightly herbal taste, too. Ninety percent of people who try it like it, he reports.

The Seefurths have recipes for Pizza Beer Bread and Pizza Beer Prawns on their Web site, For the past few months, a local 70-seat pizzeria, Michel Angelo's, has been using two to three cases a week to make beer-crust pizza and even more to produce a line of frozen pies sold in Illinois stores. "It makes a light, fluffy crust," says the restaurant's chef, Frank McCarron. "We're blowing people away. This is no Pet Rock; it happens to be good!"

Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer is not available in Washington area stores, but the Seefurths would like to saturate all 50 states. In the meantime, it can be purchased through Sam's Wine and Spirits (800-777-9137,; for District and Virginia sales, but not Maryland) and Top Shelf Wine and Spirits (847-213-8300,

-- Bonnie S. Benwick

© 2008 The Washington Post Company