The Drink That Made Wisconsin Famous: Beer and Brewing in the Badger State

The Drink That Made Wisconsin Famous: Beer and Brewing in the Badger State

by Doug Hoverson


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From grain to glass—a complete illustrated history of brewing and breweries in the state more famous for beer than any other

Few places on Earth are as identified with beer as Wisconsin, with good reason. Since its first commercial brewery was established in 1835, the state has seen more than 800 open and more than 650 close—sometimes after mere months, sometimes after thriving for as long as a century and a half. The Drink That Made Wisconsin Famous explores this rich history, from the first territorial pioneers to the most recent craft brewers, and from barley to barstool. 

From the global breweries that developed in Milwaukee in the 1870s to the “wildcat” breweries of Prohibition and the upstart craft brewers of today, Doug Hoverson tells the stories of Wisconsin’s rich brewing history. The lavishly illustrated book goes beyond the giants like Miller, Schlitz, Pabst, and Heileman that loom large in the state’s brewing renown. Of equal interest are the hundreds of small breweries across the state started by immigrants and entrepreneurs to serve local or regional markets. Many proved remarkably resistant to the consolidation and contraction that changed the industry—giving the impression that nearly every town in the Badger State had its own brewery. Even before beer tourism became popular, hunters, anglers, and travelers found their favorite brews in small Wisconsin cities like Rice Lake, Stevens Point, and Chippewa Falls. Hoverson describes these breweries in all their diversity, from the earliest enterprises to the few surviving stalwarts to the modern breweries reviving Wisconsin’s reputation as the place to find not just the most beer but the best.

Within the larger history, every brewery has its story, and Hoverson gives each its due, investigating the circumstances that meant success or failure and describing in engaging detail the people, the technology, the marketing, and the government relations that delivered Wisconsin’s beer from grain to glass.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816669912
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Publication date: 08/27/2019
Pages: 504
Sales rank: 261,696
Product dimensions: 9.30(w) x 10.10(h) x 2.10(d)

About the Author

Doug Hoverson is author of Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota (Minnesota, 2007). He has written about beer and brewing history for publications ranging from American Breweriana Journal to The Growler to The Onion. He has been a consultant on documentaries about beer or related businesses and is a popular speaker on the history of beer. 

Table of Contents


Preface: On Wisconsin!

1. From Barley to Barstool: The Art and Science of Beer
Thoughts on Enjoying Beer Properly

2. Pioneer Brewing, 1835-1860
Becoming a Brewer
Charles Hottelman

3. Encouraging Home Industry, 1855-1915
Signs of the Times

4. The Leading Industry, 1860-1920
Steam Breweries

5. Milwaukee—Queen of Lager, 1865-1915
Sealing the Deal: Bottle Closures

6. Oasis in the Dry Years, 1840-1932

7. Back to Work, Off to War, 1932-1955
Working in a Mid-sized Brewery

8. The American Way of Beer, 1945-1975
Berlin Brewing Co.

9. One Lite On, Other Lights Out, 1970-2015
Beer Cans and Breweriana

10. Return of the Local, 1965-2018
What is a Craft Brewery?
Return to Potosi

Wisconsin Breweries and Brewpubs


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