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Over-the-Rhine:: When Beer Was King (American Palate) Paperback – September 17, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael D. Morgan is a reformed lawyer who has dedicated the past several years to the physical and cultural restoration of Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine. In part, this includes working with the City of Cincinnati to improve its approach to historic preservation and to find creative solutions to urban redevelopment challenges. It also includes conducting events that help bring the neighborhood's history alive. Morgan is a graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law, where he learned to write, and Ohio University, where he learned to drink. As a trustee of the Brewery District CURC, Morgan helped create the organization's Prohibition Resistance Tours of historic brewery sites. He has also been the primary organizer of Bockfest since 2006 and is an unabashed proponent of local beer.
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Product Details

  • Series: American Palate
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (September 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596299142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596299146
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Garrett Peck on October 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Over-the-Rhine was once the heart of a thriving German-American neighborhood in Cincinnati and home to two dozen breweries. It's also a dilapidated district and 19th century architectural time capsule that civic-minded Cincinnatians are trying to preserve while making it into a livable urban neighborhood. The rise and fall of OTR is the subject of Michael Morgan's dynamite short history, "Over-the-Rhine: When Beer Was King."

Based mostly on primary sources, Morgan tells the story of how German immigrants settled in this enclave north of the Miami and Erie Canal (the "Rhine") in the 1840s and 1850s. They brought a gift which we cherish still to this day: lager beer. Many brewers grew wealthy and built brewhouses that were Romanesque Revival palaces. OTR flourished with thousands of beer gardens, saloons, and entertainment venues.

However, there were nativist forces at work to undermine German society and its beer-soaked culture. Morgan writes, "Before gay marriage, abortion rights, civil rights or the Vietnam War, beer became the focal point of a much broader social debate." That was temperance, the social reform movement that gave us Prohibition.

Prohibition devastated Cincinnati's rich brewing tradition. A handful of breweries reopened after 1933, but the industry - and OTR - never recovered. The last brewery closed in the 1950s; the local brewers found they couldn't compete with the emerging national brands. There are today only two active breweries in OTR: the Schoenling Brewery, where the Boston Beer Company makes Sam Adams, and the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, which in 2010 took over the former Kauffman Brewery (a building that was, even more recently, the Husman Potato Chip Factory).
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Format: Paperback
When I first saw this book and read the synopsis I thought it was a book about Cincinnati breweries in the OTR District. In reality it wasn't but what I read was a great book about the German culture that helped shape Cincinnati into the city it is. Focusing on the beginnings of the OTR district to post prohibition this book covers a great wealth of information that would other wise be forgotten. Buy this book if you want to learn about history. Don't buy if you want a book only about breweries.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I grew up in Over-the-Rhine in the 1940's and early 1950's, so I have many fond memories of the neighborhood. Of course, as a child during those years I had no interest in beer and never gave it a thought. Well, I bought this Kindle book a couple of months ago out of adult nostalgia for the neighborhood and curiosity about the local beers I had enjoyed as a grownup (I'm now 74 years old). My nostalgia was gratified, and my desire to learn about the hometown brews was amply rewarded, but one thing about this book made it an absolute treasure. For the first time in my life I learned that that there is a subterranean world beneath the streets I know so well. It turns out that small local breweries did their work in cellars, brewing there and using a network of pipes and storage tanks to take advantage of the cool underground temperatures. They even tunneled under the streets to expand their storage space, so the network was far wider than the cellars under their buildings. It reminded me that I'd played as a child on the grassy strips dividing Central Parkway a few blocks from our apartment building and was fascinated by the sight of the unused tunnels and tracks visible through ventilation screens there, remnants of Cincinnati's failed attempt to build a subway system. I also purchased on the same day the Kindle book Cincinnati's Incomplete Subway: The Complete History. Cincinnati's Incomplete Subway: The Complete History (OH) These books were a remarkable find for me. I couldn't be more pleased.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I thought it would tell me more about the great breweries back in the day of Over-the-Rhine (OTR).

This book is mostly about the history of OTR. It talks about the German heritage of the neighborhood.

This book discusses the living conditions of OTR.

Most of the book is about all of the politics and laws back in the day.

If you want to learn about the history of OTR, this is the book for you. If you want to learn about the old breweries, then this is not the book for you.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased six of these books as Christmas gifts for a few of my good beer drinking friends. What a surprise. I couldn't put it down. The insights Morgan offers on the cultural history of Cincinnati were eye opening. He mixes accurate history (one of my gifted friends is a history professor and has confirmed this) wit, and information with an easily readable style. It's much more than a "beer" book. As a life long resident of Cincinnati, I am a bit ashamed that I didn't know more about this era. Now a do. I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in expanding their knowledge about this important period in our history.
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Format: Paperback
Let me start by saying that this book was exceptionally well-written in my opinion. It was nothing like I expected it to be when I purchased it though. Being familiar with Cincinnati's rich German beer brewing and cultural heritage, I expected the book to focus entirely on the brewing industry in Cincinnati, its barons and its demise, but instead the book explained the events that led up to Prohibition in a way that made it finally make sense to me, providing a slice of history I had never been taught (and now I know why). Cincinnati was an excellent microcosm for the events leading up to Prohibition to be fully displayed and the extreme impact it had on the city is well understood after this quick read.

I highly recommend anyone interested in Cincinnati, German-American Heritage, Prohibition, or cultural biggotry and predjudice to read this book. There are many themes that help even see today's news headlines and culture wars in a new light.
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