Title: Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser Busch and America’s Kings of Beer
Author: William Knoedelseder
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Anheuser-Busch name has been synonymous with beer since before Prohibition, but who exactly was the Busch family? Knoedelseder goes behind the scenes of this notorious, scandal-ridden family to offer a complete account of their history.
One thing my blog readers might not know about me (though my friends on Twitter are more than well aware of) is that I’m a huge fan of craft beer. I love exploring new breweries and trying new beers, though if it’s produced by Miller, Coors, or InBev/Aneheuser-Busch, I’ll give it a pass. But I was curious about the history of Anheuser-Busch and what exactly the story behind the Busch family was, so I decided to give Bitter Brew a try.
Whether you’re a fan of beer or can barely stand the taste of the beverage, Bitter Brew is a book you should consider. It’s packing to the brim with salacious tales of the misdeeds of the Busch family, but it’s much more than a gossipy rag. It’s also a commentary on business, corporate culture, and how to (and not to) run a business. Knoedelseder examines the Busch family from every angle, both personal and professional, to see how exactly this family toppled from grace so profoundly.
Bitter Brew is written in an engaging narrative style and, as a result, it’s incredibly easy to read. He keeps the story interesting, and though he occasionally does jump in time, it’s never difficult to follow. The material about both the Busch family and the Busch company is interesting in and of itself, but Knoedelseder also orders it and presents it in a way that’s very easy to digest. It’s also clear he did quite a bit of research when writing this book. From beginning to end, it’s a compulsive, interesting read.
Knoedelseder also makes sure that the personalities of the major players in the Busch family come across. Despite the fact that I’m not much of a fan of the company objectively, I found myself rooting for different people to succeed. The end result—the hostile takeover by InBev—is a sad, but inevitable conclusion to this book. It’s smart, engaging, well-researched, and well-written; if you’re looking for an entertaining tale about one of corporate America’s most beloved brands and families, Bitter Brew is definitely the book to pick up.