Review: The United States of Beer
Americans have loved beer from the very beginning. As a matter of fact, “a brewhouse was among the Pilgrims’ very first projects.” Beer has taken quite a journey since then, from local breweries, to Prohibition, to large, national breweries, and finally to a resurgence of local brewers creating craft beers.
Dane Huckelbridge traces the history of the “all-American drink” in The United States of Beer. He divides the country into regions and delves into each region separately in this well researched book. Beers in each region were influenced by the people who settled there as well as the ingredients that were available to them, giving them distinctive styles and flavors. Breweries thrived until Prohibition, which only a handful managed to survive. The shortages of World War II caused those breweries to look for alternatives to the necessary ingredients and they turned to things like rice and corn, creating adjunct lagers which took over the beer market for years. Thankfully, pioneers like Fritz Maytag and Ken Grossman took a chance and started the first craft breweries, and the industry hasn’t looked back since.
I’m not sure The United States of Beer will have broad appeal but, since my family is in the beer business, I found it thoroughly fascinating, even though I already knew the basic history of beer in the US. Huckelbridge dug deep and shares a detailed history, starting in Europe. I never realized beer was so important in the history of this country. There are great illustrations throughout the book as well as a bibliography and index in the back. If you or someone you know enjoys history and/or beer, you’ll want to pick this book up!