Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer

Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer

by Maureen Ogle
4.4 7

Paperback(First Edition)

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Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer by Maureen Ogle

In the first-ever history of American beer, Maureen Ogle tells its epic story, from the immigrants who invented it to the upstart microbrewers who revived it.
Beer might seem as American as baseball, but that has not always been true: Rum and whiskey were the drinks of choice in the 1840s, with only a few breweries making heavy, yeasty English ale. When a wave of German immigrants arrived in the middle of the nineteenth century, they promptly set about re-creating the pleasures of the biergartens they had left behind.

 Just fifty years later, the American-style lager beer they invented was the nation’s most popular beverage—and brewing was the nation’s fifth-largest industry, ruled over by fabulously wealthy titans Frederick Pabst and Adolphus Busch. But when anti-German sentiments aroused by World War I fed the flames of the temperance movement (one activist even declared that “the worst of all our German enemies are Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, and Miller”), Prohibition was the result. In the wake of its repeal, brewers replaced flavor with innovations like marketing and lite beer, setting the stage for a generation of microbrewers whose ambitions reshaped the drink.

 Grab a glass and settle in for the surprising story behind your favorite pint.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780156033596
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 10/08/2007
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 450
Sales rank: 317,874
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

MAUREEN OGLE is a historian and the author of several books, including In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America and Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. Her website can be found at She lives in Ames, Iowa.


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Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In the 1830s, few Americans had ever heard of, let alone tasted, beer. At that time, rum and whiskey were the favorite beverages of the American drinking public, with English ale running a distant third. Over the next half-century, however, thousands of enterprising German immigrants transformed American tastes so that, by 1880, beer had decisively supplanted all other liquors as the American national beverage. Ambitious Brew is an engaging account of that transformation. Ogle traces the growth of the American beer industry from its humble immigrant beginnings, through the phases of Prohibition, corporatism and the recent rise of micro-breweries. Carefully researched, filled to the brim with technical information and populated with colorful personalities, Ambitious Brew provides a unique lens through which to examine American culture. Ambitious Brew is more than a story about the indelible imprint German immigrants made on their adopted land. And it is more than a tale of how American consumers prompted those immigrants to adapt traditional products for new palates. Indeed, at its heart, Ambitious Brew is the fascinating story of how distinct cultural features have blended to enrich the fabric of a vibrant society. It is a story that needed to be told, and Ogle has told it very well. Beer aficionados and readers interested in popular culture and history will enjoy Ambitious Brew.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are so many satisfactory micro-histories, or niche histories, available these days, you¿re forgiven if you haven¿t read them all. The truly great ones, like The Pencil by Henry Petroski, and Cod by Mark Kerlansky, are so compelling that it¿s easy to forget you¿re reading about a single item. In the end, each one is about society. Marketers should read this book. It¿s a dandy. You have to forgive the Harcourt blurb writers: the fly-leaf states this is ¿this is the first-ever history of American beer.¿ It¿s not. But it is the newest, most up-to-date and enjoyable history of the subject. The salient point is that Ogle¿s book is as much about the trends of our American society, past and present, as it is about breweries. In an eminently readable way, Ogle relates how changes in our society over the past two hundred years have had a variety of impacts on beer development and marketing. It¿s a book about great brewers and beers. It¿s a book about very smart (or utterly unconscious) marketing. But more than these, it¿s a book about true believers. The true believers in these pages bend or break with the times in which they live. We¿re living with changes every day, faster and faster. Can you say for certain you know which ones will affect your product or your market? If you¿re good, perhaps there¿ll be a copy of this book in your Christmas stocking. Or better yet, a six-pack of your favorite brewski.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss your hand 3 times post this on three different books and look under your pillow