Beer Blast: The Inside Story of the Brewing Industry's Bizarre Battles for Your Money

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9780812963915: Beer Blast: The Inside Story of the Brewing Industry's Bizarre Battles for Your Money

Brewing, a venerable American industry, once was dominated by family-owned firms serving a loyal clientele. In the late 1970s, however, the conglomerates got involved, and the beer wars erupted. In Beer Blast, a veteran of the beer wars (from the famous Van Munching clan, importers of Heineken) shares his wealth of colorful, often amazing stories about the personalities, battles, and follies of the beer biz.

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Review:

The rise and fall of beer trends--from sports sponsorships to low-cals, and status-conscious imports to creatively crafted microbrews--mirror, in many ways, the larger culture that embraces them. Philip Van Munching, a young journalist who also represents the third generation in his family to toil in the beer business, offers a clever and knowing look at its ups and downs in Beer Blast: The Inside Story of the Brewing Industry's Bizarre Battles for Your Money.

From Kirkus Reviews:

An industry insider's account of how B-school grads with no brew experience became the nation's tastemakers. Van Munching, heir to the importing dynasty that introduced America to Heineken and Amstel Light, begins by tracing beer's somewhat grimy American genealogy. It was favored by the urban working class in 19th-century America, when breweries in New York, Milwaukee, and Chicago, among other cities, churned out a cheap, foamy drink deeply appreciated at the end of the day. From these lowly origins the powerful regional brands (like Coors in the west and Old Style in Chicago) emerged, produced by a handful of family owners. Nostalgic for those halcyon days, Van Munching views the 1970 Philip Morris purchase of Miller as the defining moment in American brewing history, when beer was transformed from an unassuming beverage to a relentlessly marketed commodity on which millions of ad dollars would be spent as a handful of companies fought to dominate the national market. He reveals the beer industry's failed attempts at marketing a nonalcoholic soda and the creation of malt liquor (beer with a higher alcohol content), heavily marketed in urban black neighborhoods. Van Munching has an easy manner and a sense of the hard reality of the business. He also has an ax to grind, bitterly resentful of the wave of MBAs who invaded his family's firm and eventually forced his resignation. While he's a little malicious, the details of recent Heineken ad campaigns are nicely absurd. Van Munching offers fascinating insight into what works and what doesn't work in the beer business; among other matters, he explains why Zima proved to be a costly flop and why the microbrew Sam Adams became an equally spectacular success. An appealing and often amusing history of a less-than-noble drink, written with style and a genuine appreciation for the good old days before Miller Time went global. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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