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Publisher's Summary

The engrossing, often scandalous saga of one of the wealthiest, longest-lasting, and most colorful family dynasties in the history of American commerce - a cautionary tale about prosperity, profligacy, hubris, and the blessings and dark consequences of success.

From countless bar signs, stadium scoreboards, magazine ads, TV commercials, and roadside billboards, the name Budweiser has been burned into the American consciousness as the "King of Beers". Over a span of more than a century, the company behind it, Anheuser-Busch, has attained legendary status. A jewel of the American Industrial Revolution, in the hands of its founders - the sometimes reckless and always boisterous Busch family of St. Louis, Missouri - it grew into one of the most fearsome marketing machines in modern times. In Bitter Brew, critically acclaimed journalist Knoedelseder paints a fascinating portrait of immense wealth and power accompanied by a barrelful of scandal, heartbreak, tragedy, and untimely death.

This engrossing, vivid narrative captures the Busch saga through five generations. At the same time, it weaves a broader story of American progress and decline over the past 150 years. It's a cautionary tale of prosperity, hubris, and loss.

©2012 William Knoedelseder (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Couldn't stop listening...

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

This is a great story detailing the blood sweat and tears associated with building and ultimately losing one of America iconic companies / brands. I have lived in St. Louis for nearly 4 years now and this story has given me an entirely new perspective on the big brewery and the family that built it. I would reccomend this book to almost anyone who has an interest in history, business or even general drama.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Chester, MD, United States
  • 12-02-12

Pass the Beer and Ammunition

Would you consider the audio edition of Bitter Brew to be better than the print version?

I have not read the print version of Bitter Brew but there is a great PDF attached to the download for pics and charts.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The Forth is my favorite as he is leaving an incredible path of death and destruction in his wake.

Have you listened to any of Peter Berkrot’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I do plan to listen to his other books in the future.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It was broken into 3 parts, and I finished it in less than a week as I found it very interesting. I think they should make it into a TV mini series.

Any additional comments?

I live in St. Louis so the book is a must read for people living in the Lou, but people from other places will enjoy the book if they have ever drank a beer or wondered what rich people do when they have no morals or common sense.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Detailed history of A-B

I enjoyed the book, though the beginning was a little slow. Like a biography, the book started at the beginning with establishing the family. It was a necessary inclusion for this particular family that was so intertwined with the corporation, but it was still a little slow starting off. The rest was great.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Every St. Louisian should read

Where does Bitter Brew rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best told stories of St. Louis history. This is a book every person in St. Louis should read. So full of a colorful history of one of our city's icon company's rise and fall.

What does Peter Berkrot bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Peter Berkrot reads the story as though he was there and experienced every event and episode. He has a great voice, easy to listen to for long periods of time. I could not put it down (turn it off).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Don't Have to Care About Beer to Enjoy this Story

What made the experience of listening to Bitter Brew the most enjoyable?

This history of Anheuser-Busch is fascinating, the wealth, the power and the disfunction. A very well-written, page turning history lesson. One character is more fascinating than the next. I am waiting for someone to do a cable series on this family.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Most of the characters were flawed and that made the story more compelling.

What does Peter Berkrot bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Peter Berkrot is an excellent narrator. Doesn't get in the way of the story, no over-acting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story! Hard to believe it is true.

Really enjoyed this book! Narrator executes well but feel he may have been a bad choice for purely tonal reasons.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating

Absolutely fascinating book. A real page turner. Finally the story those of us that grew up in St. Louis have always wondered.

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good book for beer lovers

the historic value of the Busch story alone makes it worth reading. good drama throughout as well.

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So much more to this story than I ever realized!

Very interesting to hear this story in its entirety. I never really knew much about the Budweiser story other than very recent news.

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Great history of the King of Beers and Co.

What did you love best about Bitter Brew?

I collect books on the history of food/alcohol and nutrition. I actually own a hardcover version of this book but didn't read much of it. The audiobook from Audible kept my attention from beginning to end.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Bitter Brew?

The naming of Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser and the early years of the company.

Have you listened to any of Peter Berkrot’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but he was a good narrator.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was struck by the family's love for guns, despite the suicides by firearm and accidental shooting (without major consequences) that occurred in the family's home(s).
Also, the final generation's continual partying, drug use, apparent vehicular homicide (without major consequences), and the many privileges, opportunities, PR staff (spin doctors), and get-out-of-jail-free cards that the very wealthy evidently are entitled to.

Any additional comments?

The book has extra-emphasis on the final generation, before being bought out by a non-American corporation. Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch products were once synonymous with America, but that can't be truly said any longer.
I enjoyed learning about the initial generations' struggles, successes, and biographies rather than the drawn-out final generation's. Then again, being the most recent, I'm sure the author had much more information to work with (e.g., articles in publications, inability to conduct in-depth interviews with the long-dead associates of the initial generations) regarding the final generation's flop and the eventual buyout of the company.