Land of Amber Waters by Doug Hoverson provides a thorough look at brewing history in Minnesota. Below the sub-title, it does a play on a brewing statement from Grain Belt: “Researched Direct From Primary Sources and Properly Sterilized. Will Not Cause Biliousness.” A quick look at the notes section proves this to be true. The primary sources Mr. Hoverson used for the book are newsletters, tax and census records, newspaper articles, and first hand documents.
From the early days before Minnesota was a state, through regional competition among local breweries and railroads, prohibition, wars, and to the modern day, this book covers it all. After the thorough overview of the industry, Hoverson includes information on practically every brewery that ever existed in Minnesota organized by county filling up about 100 pages of the book. If there were records of someone brewing in Minnesota since 1860, it is included. Where records are incomplete or contradictory, Hoverson does a great job noting and explaining.
Though there are many interesting passages, one of my favorites is quoted from a November 11, 1944, New York Times article:
Minnesota Brewers Association pushed both credibility and the government too far when it ran a series of ads that claimed beer was “comparable to or the equivalent of bread in nutritional value.” The Federal Trade Commission stepped in and ruled officially that bread had greater nutritional value than beer, and the brewers agreed to discontinue the ads.
Of particular interest to me, aside from the growth of the industry, was the history of the Hamm’s Brewery as well as the Minnesota Brewing Company which are both included in satisfying detail. I continue to make treks to the old Hamm’s Brewery and made my first to the old Minnesota Brewery in Minneapolis just the other week. To have background historical information on the growth and construction made the trip more memorable.
The book also contains full color images of advertizing and memorabilia from the authors and other contributors’ collections. There is a Kindle edition from Amazon, and I am a huge Kindle fan, but would probably not recommend an ebook version if you only have a black and white e-ink reader. Best suited for a color tablet or computer.
Land of Amber Waters The History of Brewing in Minnesota
University of Minnesota Press, 2007