Beer history vs. nostalgia

The New York Times (free registration) makes an interesting pairing today in Books of the Times, reviewing Maureen Ogle’s Ambitious Brew and Great American Beer.

Our three-part interview with Ogle sparked chatter on various discussion boards and e-mail lists about how complicent the dominant brewers were in the “dumbing down” of American beer and the role played by advertising.

Thus, the Times writes, “The perfect visual accompaniment to Ms. Ogle’s history is Christopher O’Hara’s ‘Great American Beer,” a 21-gun salute to 50 beers that “shaped the 20th century.'” Though a rather thin 128 pages the books is packed with photos of advertisements.

Immersing ourselves fully in beer nostalgia reminds us of where we’ve been, but tell us little about where beer is headed in the 21st century. Ogle’s book, on the other hand, shows us that history may provide a better hints of what’s in the future.