Review: Beer Money
After he immigrated to America, German born Bernhard Stroh started a brewery in his new home of Detroit, Michigan. Stroh’s Brewery survived the Depression by selling malt syrup and ice cream and was allowed to brew “near beer” during Prohibition so it was in a great position when Prohibition was repealed. At one time, Stoh’s was the third largest brewery in the United States but the family’s mismanagement and poor decisions eventually resulted in its decline.
Frances Stroh was born into this wealthy but somewhat dysfunctional family. She remembers extravagant shopping trips and a home filled with lavish collections. There wasn’t a lot of harmony there, though; her brother was busted for drugs and her parents eventually divorced. Stroh shares what it was like to grow up in this powerful yet flawed family in her memoir Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss.
I liked Beer Money a great deal but I can’t say that I loved it. I found the Stroh family fascinating. They’d grown up with wealth and power but little foresight or business sense and I was dumbfounded by some of their decisions. I think most of them thought the money would never run out so they weren’t too worried about it. Stroh said,
I realized that the Stroh trusts – – psychologically certainly – – had always, in truth, served as something of a safety net for me.
Frances pursued an art career and I didn’t enjoy the parts of the book about her education and art installations as much as the parts about her family and their business, although the two parts did overlap at times. I wanted more of her childhood and less of her adulthood. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this glimpse into the life of the Strohs.
The audio version of Beer Money is narrated by Erin Bennett and I thought she did a pretty good job bringing it to life.
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