Ambitious Brew

Ambitious Brew

The Story of American Beer

Book - 2006
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In the first-ever history of American beer, Maureen Ogle tells its epic story, from the immigrants who invented it to the upstart microbrewers who revived it.   Beer might seem as American as baseball, but that has not always been true: Rum and whiskey were the drinks of choice in the 1840s, with only a few breweries making heavy, yeasty English ale. When a wave of German immigrants arrived in the middle of the nineteenth century, they promptly set about re-creating the pleasures of the biergartens they had left behind.

 Just fifty years later, the American-style lager beer they invented was the nation's most popular beverage--and brewing was the nation's fifth-largest industry, ruled over by fabulously wealthy titans Frederick Pabst and Adolphus Busch. But when anti-German sentiments aroused by World War I fed the flames of the temperance movement (one activist even declared that "the worst of all our German enemies are Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, and Miller"), Prohibition was the result. In the wake of its repeal, brewers replaced flavor with innovations like marketing and lite beer, setting the stage for a generation of microbrewers whose ambitions reshaped the drink.

 Grab a glass and settle in for the surprising story behind your favorite pint.
Publisher: Orlando : Harcourt, c2006.
ISBN: 9780151010127
Branch Call Number: 663.3 O351
Characteristics: 422 p. : ill ; 25 cm.

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Chapel_Hill_KenMc Dec 22, 2014

This is a very readable history of American brewing, from the German immigrants of the mid-19th century to the proliferation of microbreweries today. If you ever wondered why Pabst has a blue ribbon, here's your answer. Ogle does an admirable job of detailing the challenges, failures, and triumphs of an industry that first had to overcome American puritan instincts, then xenophobia centered around immigrant German culture, and finally Prohibition, that spectacularly failed experiment of the 1920's. The rise of big industry beer in the 1950's and 1960's left us with few quality selections, but Ogle makes the case that only the big operators were able to survive Prohibition. She links the new micro brew revolution to a generally increased consciousness about food quality and food sources, and provides insight into how this thriving industry creating new enthusiasm for a wide palette of beer styles.

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