Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Garrett Peck's "The Prohibition Hangover"

Garrett Peck is a freelance journalist who has written mostly within the alcohol industry trade circles. Based in Washington, D.C., he also regularly conducts tours of historic sites that hold a significant place in the temperance movement in and around the district.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Prohibition Hangover: Alcohol in America from Demon Rum to Cult Cabernet, and reported the following:
Page 99 from my book (including a half-sentence starting on page 98):
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell provided $4.5 million in state aid for City Brewing, and promised an additional $7 million toward infrastructure improvements, including wastewater treatment upgrades to help the brewery reopen in May 2007, ten months after closing. City Brewing invested $10.4 million in upgrading the plan; its plan was to ramp up production from an initial 100 employees, eventually reaching 250 employees.

The Latrobe Brewery reopened. It now brews beer, including Samuel Adams for the Boston Beer Company; flavored malt beverages; and nonalcoholic drinks. In other words, Latrobe went from being a single-product brewery [Rolling Rock Extra Pale] to producing multiple products under contract for other companies. This is the niche in which its owner, City Brewing, plays. So the Latrobe Brewery survived another day and even expanded its product line, though it was a roller-coaster ride for the town and the brewery's workers.

Now I'm kicking myself for not buying the Rolling Rock lava lamp.
The Prohibition Hangover is written from a literary journalist point of view, so I included first-hand accounts of visiting places important to the alcoholic beverage industry, while telling the story of how the United States became a drinking nation again in the 76+ years since Prohibition ended in 1933.

The passage you read above is the half-page closing for the beer chapter, "Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer." Oh the irony that this falls on page 99! This particular page may read a little factual and dry, but it immediately followed a humorous description of touring the Latrobe Brewery in Pennsylvania. This was a well loved brewer that made Rolling Rock until Anheuser-Busch bought the brand - but not the brewery (the beer is now made in Newark, New Jersey). I was trying to explain how a small business got swept up in a global market, and had difficulty competing against larger companies with much deeper distribution. Though the brewery itself survived, it had to change drastically or shut down completely. In writing this, I showed how globalization has forced many companies to adapt or die.

The punch line to the passage - that I didn't buy the lava lamp (I got a T-shirt instead) - was because the brewery closed its Rolling Rock store. Rolling Rock paraphernalia disappeared. And just how cool would it be to have a green lava lamp that you can't find anywhere?!
Read an overview of The Prohibition Hangover, and learn more about the book and author at Garrett Peck's website.

Garrett Peck's best books about Prohibition.

Writers Read: Garrett Peck.

--Marshal Zeringue