- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Barricade Books; 1St Edition edition (August 25, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1569803129
- ISBN-13: 978-1569803127
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,101,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago Hardcover – August 25, 2006
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"Bob Skilnik thinks most historians have overlooked what a thirsty job it was being hog butcher to the world." -- Chicago Tribune
"Skilnik's book, quite skillfully, brings focus to the history of Chicago's beer production, distribution, retail sale, and consumption patterns." -- Illinois Heritage Magazine
From the Publisher
Much more than a time line, this book is a heady, fun-to-read epic that offers a rich history of Chicago against the backdrop of its booming and ultimately doomed brewing industry. Filled with anecdotes and little-known facts, it's a treasure for history buffs, genealogists, Chicago fans, beer connoisseurs and collectors of breweriana.
Top customer reviews
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For an excellent book on the sociological, political, and economic impacts of a beverage upon a young New World, you should really check out "And a Bottle of Rum" by Wayne Curtis. He delivers a great deal of facts, but you really feel the author's passion for the subject at hand and you actually crave the drinks that are being discussed. Nothing in Skilnik's book made me want to run over to Goose Island for a pint, which is a shame.
For a start, the book has a patch quiltwork quality to it, as though he was stitching together various earlier manuscripts, which in fact he was. As a result there are many needless repetitions and redundencies. For example, in three different places he discusses the Pavichevich Brewing Company, when it could all be consolidated into one narrative.
As someone who was highly aware of Chicago beers since the early 1950s, I found a lot that was missing, especially in regard to some famous local brand names.
His coverage of the years from the end of Prohibition through the 1950s was particularly poor, after he started off marvelously with a great discussion on the end of Prohibition. I had always wondered why beer was being sold in Chicago as early as May 1933, prior to the official end of Prohibition in December 1933, and Skilnik skillfully explains it all.
But after 1933, his history comes unglued. He discusses for example the Manhattan Brewery in the 1930s, without ever mentioning the name of the brand that it sold before it introduced Canadian Ace in the early 1940s. I had to go to the Chicago Tribune to find out that it was Manhattan Beer.
His first mention of the Pilsen Brewery was on page 216, where he mentioned it was acquired by Canadian Ace in 1963. The brewery had been around for decades. He said nothing about when Pilsen introduced its Yusay brand. I found an ad from 1940. He barely mentioned Atlas Praeger. There is nothing on sales of the various brands during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, beyond a discussion of Fox Deluxe and Canadian Ace. Who were the local sales leaders. Where exactly did Monarch, Fox DeLuxe, Canadian Ace, Atlas Praeger, Yusay Pilsen, and other local brands rank against each other? were famous local brands, and I would expect in a history of Chicago beer there would have been some discussion.
I noticed that the index has no entry for Yusay Pilsen, Atlas Praeger, Old Chicago, and other local brands. The public know the breweries through their brands,and the author seems to lack understanding of this basic concept.
Instead, we get several chapters of detailed discussion on the trevails of Schlitz and Old Style, which were indeed interesting, but only tangential to the story of brewing in Chicago.
The author fails to make some commonplace judgements. His discussion of Peter Hand and their failure to sell Old Chicago Beer fails to mention the reason for the beer's failure. I remember when it came out, and a lot of people tried it, and tried it again just to be sure, and concluded that the formula was a lousy tasting beer. It you are going to introduce a new beer, it had better be good. Skilnik never explains why Old Chicago failed.
This book is terrific (tastes great) in some places and maddeningly uneven in others. I would still recommend the book, but with the caveat that the reader will find parts of the book woefully deficient (less filling) in discussion of the Chicago beer industry.
Fascinating read! That takes one from the beginnings of an industry and
city through the pursuit of German immigrants ambitions to bring "Lager" beer to other immigrants and society at large. While others pressure government to stop an industry, Prohibion! Which causes a change in the tast of "American Lager Beer" and its distribution & promotion.