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Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer Paperback – October 8, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A fascinating and well-documented social history that sheds fresh light on the bubbly sociable beverage."--Chicago Tribune
"From lager-making German immigrants to today's microbrew-meisters, a sudsy, briskly told survey of American beer. B+."--Entertainment Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
The first several chapters (and 40 or so years of chronology) cover the beginnings of American brewing by explaining the origins of the Best brewery (which would become Pabst), the Uihlein's (Schlitz), and Adolphus Busch. These chapters passed slowly, and didn't entertain the way that popular history can (like Winchester's A Crack in the Edge of the World or Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, Stephen Ambrose, etc).
However, I was extremely engaged by everything that followed. I thought the explanation of the causes and context of Prohibition was excellent. The narrative of changes in brewing in post-World War II America (consolidation, the dawn of modern marketing) was also very interesting, and did a nice job integrating societal and business changes into that story. I erroneously thought I'd experienced first-hand the rise of craft beer in America, but Maureen did a very nice job educating me on the true origins of this trend.
I was bogged down by the beginning of this book, but thrilled with the middle and end of it. This book would be a great resource for beer connoisseurs looking for an understanding of why American brewing is what it is, and as a cautionary tale for brewing executives.
Among all the books on the market today, there’s not a more definitive history of beer in the United States. That’s even more laudable considering that “Ambitious Brew” was published in 2007. The fact that it’s nearly eight years old is the only bad thing about the book.
Wouldn’t it be cool if Ms. Ogle put out a 10th anniversary edition with her take on developments in the U.S. beer scene—particularly the rapid growth of the craft beer movement—over the last decade?
The parts related to the prohibition seem a bit rushed, with some minor editing flaws. Which leads into a bit disjointed post war part. The book is packed with notes, bibliography and index (1/3 of kindle edition), and as such a good asset for the future.
The author does have some biases which I think do color the book a bit. She has a contrarian tilt which seems to lead her to the view that big "industrial beer" from the giant lager-brewers is a better product than it really is. She does not seem to be as familiar as might be hoped with brewing itself, and consequently does not appreciate the extent to which the American brewing industry compromised product quality by relying on highly tannic, six-row malts and the notoriously bad-smelling Cluster hop, for example. And her interest in American brewing does not extend to ale (apart from the ales of the microbrew era); she seems to accept all too readily the notion that American ale-brewing in the pre-lager era was a cesspool of bad beer.
The upshot is that the book is perhaps a bit too favorable to the point of view of the great national brewers, and to their insipid style of high-adjunct, low-hop lager. But the early history of the large brewers is fascinating, and she shows genuine interest in the microbrew movement and its impact upon American tastes. A very, very enjoyable book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating story about how the Big Boys of Beer came to be.
I learned many new facts about Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Coors and Miller. Read more
Ogle's history of beer in America starts at 1844 in Milwaukee going up to the mid 2000s. It would have been interesting to read about Revolution-era brewing and beer culture and... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Adam R. Lambert
Interesting book with a good history. Good insight into the Great Experiment of Prohibition and what lead up to it. Read morePublished 5 months ago by RN Chuck
Who knew that the history of American brewing could be interesting and of some social relevance . It still does not redeem Budweiser or Schlitz as
drinkable beers. Read more
Very interesting book, but it ends in 2006! That cuts out what has arguably been the best decade of American beer. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jono Matusky