My love of trying beer long ago turned into a curiosity about the history of beer and the history of styles. This curiosity has already resulted in the posts about Trappists and the Reinheitsgebot. Today I finished reading the excellent book Over-The-Rhine: When Beer Was King by Michael Morgan.
Over-The-Rhine: When Beer Was King is a great book for anyone who likes beer, Cincinnati, or history. But this is a fantastic, must-read book for anyone who loves Cincinnati Beer. The author does an excellent job of walking you through the overall history of Cincinnati but still keeps things focused on beer and German heritage, which as I found out really go hand in hand here.
Sometimes it seems that he is wandering off topic a bit, but it usually comes back to being relevant, and even when it doesn’t they’re great anecdotes. I would’ve liked to learn a bit more about the beer itself, but the book is full of great information about the brewers and more importantly the atmosphere that they were brewing in. If you though Cincinnati’s first riot was in 2001 you’re mistaken, and this book provides a great retelling of the earlier ones. In 1855, there was a voting riot that involved a cannon being rolled through the streets. Then in 1884/85 we had another riot that eventually led to the police firing a Gatling gun into the streets. These are, in my opinion, incredibly interesting especially how Michael Morgan sets it these events in the grand scheme of things.
My biggest complaint is that there is no map. I’ve always dug looking at maps, especially those giant fold out ones in National Geographic. When I realized, there was no map in this book I started looking up these places on Google Maps, then noticed that I could make a public map and share it. If you’re reading this book and interested in where these breweries used to be you can check out my map here.
The next complaint is about the narrow scope of the book. Over-The-Rhine: When Beer Was King is literally about Over-The-Rhine and nothing but Over-The-Rhine. It frustrates me that Rivertown and Mt. Caramel are not mentioned anywhere in this book, but I understand that Lockland and Mt. Caramel are in the greater Cincinnati area, not Over-The-Rhine.
I have to recommend strongly that everyone read this book. It’s very educational and full of interesting stories. It has greatly expanded my knowledge of why OTR is the way it is and more needs to be to save it.
If I’ve motivated you to check it out, then you can buy the book on Amazon!