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1/2007 BOOK REVIEW: MAUREEN OGLE, AMBITIOUS BREW: THE STORY OF AMERICAN BEER (NY: HARCOURT, 2005)
Maureen Ogle admits that five years ago she knew very little about beer. Most readers of this book may find that hard to believe. AMBITIOUS BREW is a terrific introduction to the subject of beer in the United States. It is loaded with facts and provides the reader with a galloping narrative that covers all the ground one would expect– who brewed, when, how, etc. Beyond that, Ogle explains to the reader a business story– how did beer-making go from a local, small scale, craft to an international, colossal, mechanized-computerized manufacturing industry. Like oil or railroads, brewing has had its ruthless barons who engaged in monopolistic practices, such as vertical integration and predatory pricing. Brands rise and brands fall; as Ogle shows, it’s a tough business. Occasionally, Ogle shows her newness to the topic; the book contains text that reads like it has been copied from a beer company’s PR sheet (e.g., see the description of Yuengling Amber Lager on page 328.) Quibbles aside, lovers of beer and business history alike will enjoy AMBITIOUS BREW. (Rating ****1/2) Learn more about this book or get a copy by clicking HERE.

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