review of William Bostwick, The Brewer’s Tale

Bostwick The Brewer's TaleThe Brewer’s Tale

William Bostwick

Wall Street Journal beer critic William Bostwick takes a cruise through history through the lens of beer. Bostwick observes that unlike hunting or gathering, beer is one of the first human cultural items made by humans. It’s our first food we have a recipe for. This allows him to make some interesting observations on both human culture and beer. Through this journey, Bostwick tries to brew a beer representative of the historical/cultural stage he is discussing. He looks at beer in Babylonian society showing the relationship between beer, agriculture and towns. Next he approaches beer and the shaman showing the relationship between beer and religion and then follows up with a good discussion on the role of monastic beer and farm beer. His chapter on industrial beer discusses the rise of porter and the use of hops and how the industrial revolution transformed beer and our drinking habits. I liked his discussion of Patriot beer and the role beer played in the forming of America. His chapter on immigrant beer traces the origins and the spread of lager beer and its rise to dominance in the US. His concluding chapter on advertising looks at the rise of industrial lager after prohibition and how advertising has formed our taste in beer. A thoroughly enjoyable and well written book.

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