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Philadelphia Beer:: A Heady History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty (American Palate) Paperback – April 25, 2012

4 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


...Every neighborhood had its own brewery, and every corner had a saloon ...The city's population was barely half of today's, and yet it had 12 times the number of breweries we boast of in 2012.
Don "Joe Sixpack" Russell Philadelphia Daily News 05-24-12

... The History Press should be commended for hiring Rich Wagner to produce the first modern history of Philadelphia brewing.
- Martin Morse Wooster Mid-Atlantic Brewing News June/July 2012

...Pennsylvania beer historian Rich Wagner chronicles it all, with gorgeous historic prints that bring Philly's great beer heritage alive, culminating in its current renaissance.
Craig LaBan Philadelphia Inquirerer 05-31-12

From the Author

This book has been incubating in my mind for quite some time and when the History Press approached me with the concept it provided a means for me to tell the short version of a long and twisted tale.
I've brought stories to life from city's earliest brewers to the heyday of Brewerytown in the late nineteenth century. Long forgotten names and logos are celebrated in this rich tapestry of lore associated with the brewers who made Philadelphia "One Big Brewerytown."
This book is for anyone who has an interest in beer and history and enjoys the proliferation of world class beer being made in Philadelphia today.

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Product Details

  • Series: American Palate
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (April 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609494547
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609494544
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,226,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

About the Author

Beginning in 1980 when he set out to visit all nine of Pennsylvania's breweries that were still in business, the author's path seems to have been one of total immersion. Traveling throughout the state, he began to notice the hulking remains of long gone breweries dotting the landscape and set out to create a photographic inventory of all standing brewery buildings in Pennsylvania. At this point he has visited well over 400 sites and found something to photograph at nearly half of them.
By 1983 Rich tried his hand at homebrewing and before long had set up a gas-fired system in a friend's basement utilizing an old beer keg as a kettle. In 1990 he interpreted colonial brewing using replicas of seventeenth century equipment at Pennsbury Manor, a reconstruction of William Penn's country estate on the Delaware. Within three years he had worked with a cooper over an eight month period to manufacture his own system starting with two cypress logs. That year he went on a cross country journey to demonstrate brewing techniques of antiquity. He was a high school science teacher who traveled extensively during the summers, visiting national parks and geologic sites throughout the nation and during the 1980s as the craft brewing renaissance began to take hold, found many craft breweries to visit as well. To date he has visited well over 600 breweries throughout the United States and Canada.
His research into Pennsylvania breweries continued and got deeper and more serious, visiting libraries and historical societies and amassing a great deal of information. Rich became involved with breweriana collectors and joined some of their organizations. He developed tours of breweries past and present for Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, the Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and south-central Pennsylvania. Some of these were sponsored by breweriana clubs, others by historical societies and other organizations. He published guidebooks to go with each tour and also issued a number of posters.
Finally, the inevitable came and his avocation overtook his vocation. Rich took very early retirement from his teaching career in order to participate in the emerging craft brewing industry. He attended the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago where he received a diploma in brewing technology and spent seven years working in Philadelphia's craft breweries. He has spent a decade as an officer of District Philadelphia, Master Brewers Association of the Americas, most of that time as Secretary and Membership Chair.
He currently spends his time researching and writing about Pennsylvania breweries and brewing techniques of antiquity. He is a speaker and demonstrates colonial brewing.

Visit: http://pabreweryhistorians.tripod.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very nice historic review of Philadelphia Brewery history for this format. A lot of info included about the brewers and production figures although you can tell there is much more behind the stories of each of these breweries. A few historical maps of the neighborhoods described in each era would have made it easier to visualize the growth and movement of the Philly beer buisiness for those who might not be familiar with the city. A nice easy read and good reference source for Beer History buffs and collectors.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first half of this book covers the nearly 250 years of Philadelphia brewing before prohibition. Suitably, Wagner examines the history of Philly brewing by placing it in the context of neighborhoods, and also by establishing a timeline of the particular styles that gained prominence era to era. It was interesting to read about Philadelphia’s pioneering of Lager beer, and how its popularity helped to establish the city as a nationally leading beer producer. This section of the book was comprehensive, but also somewhat dry. At times, I felt as though I was reading a long wikipedia page on the subject.

The book picks up in its second half, as Wagner goes on to describe how the Volstead Act utterly destroyed one of Philadelphia’s largest industries. The vast majority of breweries closed at the introduction of the act, but some remained opened manufacturing near beer and selling it as a breakfast food (so punk rock.) Prohibition was of course repealed, but at that point the economy was suffering through the Great Depression, and most of Philadelphia’s breweries would never reopen. There were over a dozen large scale breweries in the city before prohibition. By 1950, there were only four, and by 1970 there were two. Schmidt’s was the last brewery operating in the city when it shut down in 1989 and began its transformation from an abandoned industrial complex to a bro stomping ground. The final chapter dealt with Philly’s more recent history, from the small brewpubs that popped up during the 90’s to the large scale breweries of Yards and PBC that we enjoy today.

This book was a short, and I finished reading it rather quickly. The beginning of it was a bit boring, but only because so much of Philadelphia’s early brewing history has been lost to time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Book is somewhat interesting. The copyright is 2012 but some parts seem updated only through 2007. I thought it could have been a little more up-to-date. If you are really into beer history this book will appeal to you.
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