Book signing: Chicago by the Pint | Bleader

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Book signing: Chicago by the Pint

Posted By on 03.07.12 at 11:00 AM

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None of Chicago’s current breweries has a particularly epic history: Goose Island is the oldest, and it’s only been around since 1988 (and, of course, it's now owned by out-of-towners). But in Chicago by the Pint: A Craft Beer History of the Windy City, instead of focusing on the stories of the 15 breweries featured, Denese Neu uses each as a jumping-off point to explore the city’s history as it relates to craft beer—though the connection is sometimes tenuous.

The chapter on Metropolitan Brewing, which makes German-style lagers, covers the influence of German immigrants on the city’s brewing and saloons, including their pivotal role in the Lager Beer Riot of 1855, Chicago’s first major civil disturbance. The piece on Limestone Brewing Company in Plainfield begins 425 million years ago with the formation of what would become the area’s limestone quarries, continues with the men who worked the quarries and cut ice (essential for beer!) in the 19th century, backtracks to the banishing of all Native Americans from Illinois, and ends in the (almost) present day with the devastating tornado that hit Plainfield with no warning in 1990, killing 29 people and injuring 350.

It may sound a bit schizophrenic, but the result is a series of engrossing, meticulously researched historic vignettes that are surprisingly cohesive considering the amount of ground they cover in just a few pages. Neu signs books Thursday, March 8, at 7 PM at the Book Cellar (4736 N. Lincoln, 773-293-2665).

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