Beer is an important part of the economy and nowhere is this truer than in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Once home to several of the nation’s largest breweries, Milwaukee’s beer history is storied, with a history as rich as an award winning double IPA. This history is brought to life in Images of America: Brewing in Milwaukee, a book from Arcadia Publishing, written by historian and long time Milwaukee area resident Brenda Magee.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Brewing in Milwaukee is an historical narrative about the city of Milwaukee and its importance to America’s brewing industry. This book, like others in the Images of America series, is a pictorial book with images on every page and short narratives describing each. Some of the pictures are quite rare and have never been previously released. The pictures are sorted by chapters that chronicle Milwaukee’s brewing past from the days of German immigrants in the 1800’s to the present day craft beer boom that has reshaped the city.
Pabst, Schlitz, and Others
Milwaukee was home to some of the largest breweries on the planet for much of the past 200 years. Men like Frederick Pabst, Joseph Schlitz, Frederik Miller, Valentin Blatz, and others hailed mainly from Germany and the majority made their way to America in search of opportunity. They brought with them the cultural aspects of their European homelands and the desire to brew beer for the masses. Most settled in the Midwest, primarily in Milwaukee, transforming the city into the beer- soaked metropolis that no other American city could match for much of the 19th and early 20 centuries. Brewed in Milwaukee successfully captures this past, with historic photographs of the entrepreneurs who built these businesses along with their families, their employees, and the equipment needed to brew such large quantities of beer for a thirsty public.
Today, the Milwaukee beer scene has changed drastically since its early days. Most of the big breweries have vanished from the landscape, but they have been replaced by a new generation of breweries committed to craft beer and artisanal quality. Lakefront Brewing, Sprecher Brewery, Water Street Brewery, and countless others have sprouted up around the city, leading way to a new era in beer and brewing.
Quick Reading and Viewing
Brewing in Milwaukee is mainly about pictures and historic education. The limited number of words on each page makes this book a faster read than most and the images invoke a sense of wonder. Readers will enjoy looking at the people, the equipment, the facilities, and other things beer- related from the past and then wondering what a day was like back in the 1800’s as a brewery employee. The words are often brief, and I noticed many instances where the author’s writing was a little off the mark. But it is still clear what the book is trying to convey so it shouldn’t detract much from the book’s overall enjoyment.
History Lesson and More
Images of America: Brewing in Milwaukee is a good history book about this Midwestern city and its importance to the brewing industry. Its words are brief, but it serves as an effective catalyst for further reading. The city of Milwaukee has had its share of brewing industry success and the city’s beer future, while certainly changed from the days of yesteryear, is sound and on stable ground. Read Images of America and learn more about the people who so strongly influenced the beer industry and the city they called home.