Dane Huckelbridge ’01
Courtesy Harper Collins
Dane Huckelbridge ’01

The book: Dane Huckelbridge ’01 tracks the history of beer in America in his new book, The United States of Beer: A Freewheeling History of the All-American Drink. He starts at the beginning with Native American corn brew, called chicha; describes the brewery built by the Pilgrims shortly after they landed at Plymouth Rock; and recounts George Washington’s failed attempt at brewing in Mount Vernon, Va.

Huckelbridge traces how the drink evolved, looking at regional breweries and chronicling the “macrobrew” revolution that occurred in the Midwest during an influx of German immigrants in the 1800s. The book explores the strange Prohibition-era assortment of products brewers resorted to, like malted milk, porcelain, and cement, in order to make non-alcoholic drinks.

When Prohibition ended in 1933, only a few dozen breweries remained, but American’s love of beer was intact. Soon, the microbrew movement on the West Coast began to spread, producing the thousands of craft breweries that we see today.

Huckelbridge relies on little-known historical sources and explains the scientific breakthroughs that changed the course of beer in the United States to bring readers this lively history of America’s most popular drink.

The author: Dane Huckelbridge, a history major while at Princeton, is also the author of Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit and has written for Tin House, The New Republic, and New Delta Review. Huckelbridge is a writer in New York.

Opening lines: “As a child, one of my greatest fantasies was getting to tour Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. It was crushing to learn that, no, there are no golden tickets hiding in Wonka bars, and no eccentric geniuses willing to let you sample their most experimental creations. But as an adult, I have discovered that a private tour of the original Sam Adams research and development brewery in Boston, Massachusetts, comes pretty darn close to that dream.”

Reviews: Booklist says, “Engrossing. … [Huckelbridge] forges riveting details into the story of how beer shaped ‘the regional histories of this country.’ … Good reading, fascinating history.”