Tag Archives: beer

What Made Milwaukee Famous

Bottoms Up 4Summer days and the summer nights are gone/ I know a place where there’s still somethin’ going on…” Bob Dylan, “Summer Days” from Love and Theft (2001)

Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic Bars & Breweries by Jim Draeger, Mark Speltz, and Mark Fay (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, $29.95, 272 pages)

Bottoms Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic Bars & Breweries has the potential to appeal to a variety of readers. Weekend travelers and curiousity seekers will find ideas for a mini-excursion in the coffee table-style book. History buffs should be drawn to various aspects of the account: prohibition, supper clubs, old-fashioned breweries, local culture, hops, architecture – a little something for everybody. But, most of all, beer lovers from anywhere should be attracted to tales of secret entrances for women; classic bartenders; dice games; microbrews; corner taverns; tourist traps; highway stopping off places; and memories of 10-ounce drafts, fish frys, crazy uncles, dart boards, and, for the true Wisconsinite, the magic potion known as an Old Fashioned.

The first 74 pages are an historical account of immigration, breweries, prohibition, and various other stories detailing Wisconsin traditions and the evolution of the brewing industry. There are times when the Germans and the Irish play nice, and times when they don’t. The rest of the book divides the state into regions and lists 70 must visit places throughout the state.

The writing is mostly straightforward. There is a hint of cleverness to some passages, but the book avoids being schmaltzy – even if it sometimes touches on malt – and can be appreciated for possessing characters, humor and insight without being contrived, forced, or displaying any hint of condescension. Having been in many of these places myself, I can personally vouch for the fact that these authors know what they’re talking about.

To memories and old friends. Cheers!

Well recommended.

Dave Moyer

This book is also available as a Kindle Edition and Nook Book download. Dave Moyer is a public education administrator and the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.

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I’ve Been Working

Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court by Roy Williams with Tim Crothers

I am one of the few students who ever attended the University of North Carolina and never drank a beer.

This would be a fine gift for the college basketball fan who always roots for the University of North Carolina (UNC) Tar Heels over Duke.   In Hard Work, Coach Roy Williams comes off a national championship season to tell the story of his life.   Williams is portrayed as extremely likeable and modest, if far too much of a Goody Two Shoes.   It may be hard for someone to relate to a person as focused as Williams has been his entire life.   Since high school he had only one goal: to be a sports coach.   Interestingly, he tells us of his motivation as a young man whose father deserted the family when he was eleven, “I saw coaching basketball as a way to give some kids the father figure I never had.”

The fault with Hard Work, as with most “as told to…” autobiographies, is that Williams’ personality never quite manages to land within its pages.   It reads like something that might have been scripted by an adoring UNC student, although all in all it’s far from being a bad tale.   This reader, however, would prefer to read a self-penned autobiography that contains a few grammatical errors yet retains the voice of the person whose story is being told.   Something is lost in translation when a professional writer has to select the words of a subject’s life story.

Algonquin Books, $24.95, 288 pages

Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.

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