A version of this mythic history of American beer appears in the introduction of Maureen Ogle's fascinating social history of the United States through beer Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. In this impressively researched book, Ogle sets out to debunk the beer geek gospel. Her book creates what one might call American beer history revisionism.
Ogle is a historian. The business of being a historian is to create new histories or new interpretations. In Ogle's new beer history, the world of good and evil is turned upside down. The heroes of Ogle's book are the villains in the beer geek worldview: Adolphus Busch and Frederick Pabst, the German-born founders of Anheuser-Busch and Pabst Brewing Company respectively. Her core argument is that contrary to the belief that these two companies came to dominate the U.S. market through intimidation, cost-cutting, and swollen marketing budgets, in fact A-B and Pabst prevailed through hard work, quality, consistency, innovation, and ultimately adapting to tastes and giving the people what they wanted. The big breweries relied on these traits to overcome several obstacles, proving their worth.
Photo by Herkie.