Great Beer Reads: Ambitious Brew

Ambitious BrewI’m writing these words at 8:30 p.m., Friday, September 18, but you won’t read them until at least October 2 when the post publishes, assuming I don’t mess things up. This time tomorrow, I’d better be on a plane nearing Tokyo, where I’ll catch a second plane to Delhi. Internet access will be intermittent and I’m not taking the laptop.

Below is the March 15, 2015 Amazon review I wrote for Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. I don’t know of any other book on the history of beer in the U.S. that comes close to Maureen Ogle’s. She’s a widely respected historian, a tireless fact-checker and an entertaining writer.


Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer is an ambitious title. No surprise that the book is a hefty 452 pages. The good news is that historian Maureen Ogle achieves her lofty goal and then some in this thoroughly researched and well-organized book. She weaves together the tales of all the major players throughout the history of American beer—the numerous Busches, Millers, Pabsts, Uihleins and many more. The result is a highly engaging book for anyone interested in the topic.

Among all the books on the market today, there’s not a more definitive history of beer in the United States. That’s even more laudable considering that “Ambitious Brew” was published in 2007. The fact that it’s nearly eight years old is the only bad thing about the book.

Wouldn’t it be cool if Ms. Ogle put out a 10th anniversary edition with her take on developments in the U.S. beer scene—particularly the rapid growth of the craft beer movement—over the last decade?

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