Beer in America

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The U.S. preference for light, even characterless brews would seem to be the result of climate and history. Heavy beer is less refreshing when the summers get as hot as ours do. And the original British colonists seem to have been more interested in making whiskey than beer. We had no strong national tradition in the matter of beer, so the way was clear for later German immigrants to set the taste around 1840, when someone— perhaps one John Wagner near Philadelphia—introduced the newly available lager yeast and technique, and the distinctive brew caught on.