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Beer in America: The Early Years–1587-1840: Beer’s Role in the Settling of America and the Birth of a Nation

Beer in America: The Early Years–1587-1840: Beer’s Role in the Settling of America and the Birth of a Nation

Beer in America: The Early Years--1587-1840: Beer's Role in the Settling of America and the Birth of a Nation

One of the most important but little-known aspects of early American history was beer’s role in the founding of our country and its formative years. The definitive account of beer’s impact on people and events that shaped the birth of a nation will astonish readers.

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3 comments

  1. David Sutula (dsutula@stratos.net)
    13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Story of beer with an American History back drop., August 5, 1999
    By A Customer
    This review is from: Beer in America: The Early Years–1587-1840: Beer’s Role in the Settling of America and the Birth of a Nation (Paperback)

    Any beer lover with a passing interest in history should enjoy “Beer a America: The Early Years” as an fun trip through the story of brewing in the United States. Not intended as a pure history book, it is instead the story of beer and brewers against the back drop of American History. In the telling it shows how beer was there, as a significant part of our culture as the country developed.

    In the first part of the book author Gregg Smith takes yøu along a path, chapter by chapter, from the settling of the country, to English domination in North America, to the revolution and beyond to the formation of the country. Along the way he tells of beer’s arrival, the development of an infant brewing industry, and the great events that occurred over a tankard of ale. Concluding the first part are brief histories of the most famous breweries of America’s formative years.

    In the second part of the book Smith continues on with chapters devoted to specific aspects of beer and brewing. One covers the technical aspects of brewing, another the tale of tavern life, one devoter to homebrewing, and even the effects of early prohibition movements.

    In all, the book is an thorough and entertaining look at beer and deserves a spot on any beer lovers book shelf.

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  2. 9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Am. History Fueled by Fermentation as much as Fomenentation, January 23, 1999
    By 
    David Sutula (dsutula@stratos.net) (Cleveland, Ohio USA) –

    This review is from: Beer in America: The Early Years–1587-1840: Beer’s Role in the Settling of America and the Birth of a Nation (Paperback)

    From our grade school history lessons we know that Ben Franklin was a great man. He invented the library, the fire department, the bifocal and discovered electricity. What they never told us is that an even better case could be made for his greatness. Ben Franklin also offered relief in times of beer shortage with the first published recipe for a pumpkin ale and relief from hop shortages with instructions on using spruce as a replacement. One of Ben’s greatest disappointments in life was that his son, William Franklin, the Governor of New Jersey, was a British loyalist during the War for Independence but he no doubt took comfort in the fact that when the chips were down, he did enact laws to restrict the flow of American beer to British soldiers. In his book Beer In America – The Early Years 1587 – 1840, Gregg Smith retells the story of America’s earliest years from the vantage of the American Brewing Industry. In his well documented account, beer, ale and cider are major players in such well known stories as the landing of the Mayflower to the discussions and debates leading up to the Declaration of Independence. Beer, malt and hops remain a point of contention between the colonists, thirsty for beer and in need of British raw materials, and their oppressors throughout the Revolution and become a political issue in the years following. In part one of his book, Smith takes us from the very earliest accounts of beer shortages and brewery building in the colonies through the colonial period and Independence into the expansion of the United States in the early 1800s. All the while we encounter familiar characters in the unfamiliar role of beer advocate. George Washington, we learn, should also be known as the father of American craftbrewing for his effort to persuade people to drink locally produced porter. And while James Madison and Thomas Jefferson had to table their plans to build a national showpiece brewery in Washington to handle the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wrote our National Anthem over a few pints of American beer. Smith also pays homage to the early giants of American brewing in brief but complete histories of now popular names like Schaeffer and Yeungling and forgotten pioneers like Lauer and Woerz. In Part Two Smith examines the beer culture of early America with the same attention to detail. A well documented look at colonial brewing technology, temperance efforts and homebrewing complete the section beginning with an examination of the American tavern and its role in the American lives and a curious chapter on American beer based cocktails. As we should expect from a historian like Gregg Smith, this volume is a gem of beer lore and American history. It is a well documented, fun and easy read that is a must for anyone who loves history and should be enjoyed with a tankard of American Porter. George Washington would be proud.

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  3. 10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    A Novel Look at American History, September 5, 2001
    By 
    Michael Schoene (Rochester, NY USA) –

    This review is from: Beer in America: The Early Years–1587-1840: Beer’s Role in the Settling of America and the Birth of a Nation (Paperback)

    This book is a very creative look at American history starting with the landing of the Mayflower in 1587. The book looks at the birth of a country from the perspective of a beer lover. The book seems to be historically accurate but I question if the role of beer is overstated in this book. At times Smith gives the impression that without beer the country would still be under English rule because there would have been no continental army if not for the beer retions. All in all Smith succeeds in entertaining you. There is no doubt that great minds like Washington and Adams came up with some of their best ideas over a pint of ale at the local pub. One of the strongest points of the book is the chapter on colonial drinks. This chapter makes the book worth it all by itself. The reader will be amazed at what the colonists considered a good drink. The book comes with my strong recomendation because it is easy to read and it gives some insight into how our founding fathers liked to unwind. If you have a slight interest in history, a love for beer and a bit of imagination, then this is a good book for you.

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