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The History of America's Craft Beer Revolution

by Tom Acitelli

Pub Date: May 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-61374-388-1
Publisher: Chicago Review

A new history on the resurgence of craft beers and home-brewing in America from 1965 to 2012, tracing the pioneering efforts of individuals coast to coast, as well as their influence worldwide.

Former New York Observer senior editor and current All About Beer contributor Acitelli offers a surprisingly engrossing, lively narrative on the tenacity of smaller outfits amid the dominant corporate brands, “a story populated by quintessential American characters: heroes and villains, hippies and yuppies, oenophiles and teetotalers, gangsters and G-men, men in kilts and men in suits, advances and retreats, long nights of the soul and giddy moments of triumph.” He covers lagers, pilsners, ales and other beers produced after Prohibition and examines the stories behind their creation. He carefully explores the personages who offered distinctive alternatives to products by Coors, Anheuser-Busch and other mass-produced labels, revealing the challenges they faced, from turning out consistent, signature tastes inspired by historic recipes to reaching wider markets with an independent spirit that often eschewed advertising. In the first section, the author alternates among profiles of some of the early figures in American craft beers—including the owner of San Francisco’s Anchor Steam company, Fritz Maytag, and Jack McAuliffe of The New Albion Brewing Company—and their fellow enthusiasts overseas, such as Michael Jackson, author of The World Guide to Beer. In the second section, Acitelli traces shifts in craft beers and home-brewing after Congress legalized the practice (which had been illegal since the 1930s but largely overlooked); the rise and demise of other microbreweries during the 1980s; continuing parallels with the locavore movement; increasing interest from venture capitalists; and related topics. In the third and fourth sections, the author further chronicles hurdles and successes, culminating in a tribute to McAuliffe.

An invaluable resource for connoisseurs. General readers will find the topic exhaustive yet accessible.