4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
these authors, gravina and mcleod, should be very proud of this little book of 160 pages. what is now known as the city of Albany, in New York State, has a very rich tradition as an early Dutch settlement, which opened its gates to all and thrived because of its location on the hudson and mohawk rivers, and later erie canal. breweries were rampant here, first using the locally grown wheat and hops, and later barley brought in from the erie canal to make enormous quantities of beer, which was consumed internationally. new york in the mid 1850s grew 90% of the world's hops and exported this also. Albany at one point in the mid 1800s had the largest brewery in north America, and brewed more beer than NYC, Philly and Boston COMBINED. Albany was king for perhaps 50 years. Albany's contribution to the history of north american beer is little known and long forgotten except by a very few of us. but at one time Albany Ale was an internationally known style of beer, reportedly 10.67 % abv, which was drank from the southern tip of south America to newfoundland, including the Caribbean, as well as being consumed in Europe. granted, it wasn't famous because it was great tasting beer perhaps, but it was sought out by those looking for a very strong beer. these authors correct the omission of the significance of Albany from most beer history books with this scholarly study. as a local, i recognize many names and i found it all fascinating, but anyone interested in history would enjoy this story, and anybody with an interest in brewing would appreciate this too. what happens in these pages is the history of our founding...henry hudson, early indian alliances, revolutionary war era history, right on up through the erie canal era, and through every era since up to the present day resurgence, including the Prohibition era. There's also a murder mystery here: who killed Legs Diamond, a transplanted NYC mobster who was believed killed before he could muscle in on the local beer brewing; but who did the actual killing and who ordered it is speculated here, briefly, and if the reporting is true then the owner of Hedrick's beer has the dual distinction of 1.)brewing possibly the worst beer in America (an almost universal local opinion) and 2.)of ordering a mob hit on a potential competitor (which I've never heard mentioned openly before). Then there's the story of a Troy brewer (Sam Bolton Jr.) who put himself into his work so much that he actually took a swim in a pot of boiling wort in an act of suicide; there's no mention of what they did with the wort afterward, or how it affected the taste.
maybe part of the reason i appreciate this book is because this book appreciates Albany history more than Albany appreciates its history. we've torn down almost every last remnent of all the breweries in this book, we've barricaded the city from the very river we used to make our beer with-- the Hudson, and we've burried the creeks the smaller brewers used, into our storm sewer system, but as hard as Albany tries to ignor or forget or deny its history, the forgotten history is still there, only hidden, just as the brewing continued unobserved during prohibition. this book won't make the ny times best sellers list, but it deserves to be on the bookshelves of every craft brewer, because these authors restored these forgotten brewers to their rightful place in history. brewers were prominent members of society long ago. their contributions to our history deserve this kind of scholarly, well-researched study. some nice photos also. somebody buy gravina and mcleod a round of beers. they earned it.