I learned a lot from this book. The history of beer in the US really starts in the 1800s, not in colonial times. German immigrants brought the brewing skills with them, and set up biergartens wherever they settled, most famously in Milwaukee. Germans also saved the US from the first round of prohibition just before the civil war. The brewers were able to convince governments across the country that the typical beer at 3.2% alcohol was not an intoxicating beverage. Also, the typical German immigrant that went to church and then spent Sunday afternoon at the biergarten with the whole family set a model for a moral lifestyle that could coexist with the more puritanical elements of society. It ultimately turned public favor against the temperance movement, although the Civil War also had a lot to do with the shift in priorities. Later, home brewing sort of led to the craft brewing revolution. I always thought it was the other way around.
I do have a couple of minor criticisms of the book though. It does read a little too much like a history textbook at times. Although I was very interested in the subject, I found it hard to read more than a chapter each night. Also, after covering the early history of beer in detail, the craft brewing revolution of the last 20 years sort of got the quick overview treatment in the final 2 chapters. I would have liked to see more depth applied to recent history. That said, it’s probably a must read for anybody that cares about the beer reviews I post here.