Brian Alberts, PhD

Headshot Brian AlbertsI am a historian who uses beer and brewing as lenses for American history. I received my PhD from Purdue University in May 2018 and currently consult on projects related to beer history, primarily with the Chicago Brewseum.

My research interests include the nineteenth century American capitalism, German immigration, ethnicity, and beer culture. My dissertation, “Beer to Stay: Brewed Culture, Ethnicity, and the Market Revolution,” examined how beer production and consumption helped German immigrants negotiate American citizenship in mid-nineteenth century Cincinnati and Chicago. In addition to converting that project into a book manuscript, I am currently researching parallels between the proliferation of lager beer during the nineteenth century and that of modern craft beer.

I am further committed to exploring beer’s instructive and public history potential. In addition to developing undergraduate courses that use beer history to explore the American experience, I use beer as a medium to engage or start public conversations. I have contributed to the creation of museum exhibits, written media pieces, provided documentary and radio interviews, and given several public talks.

I can be contacted at

Recent Posts

Containing a Kernel: Bud Light’s New Ad is Really Old

(Update 5/26/2019: A Wisconsin federal judge has ordered Anheuser-Busch to halt some advertisements suggesting MillerCoors uses corn syrup without “giving more context.”) Anheuser-Busch has revived an age-old marketing tactic in American brewing, even though it might be a bad idea. The nation’s largest brewer repeatedly uses high-profile Super Bowl ads to premiere bold narratives about … Continue reading Containing a Kernel: Bud Light’s New Ad is Really Old

What’s Traditional? Revisiting History through Adjuncts

Recently, David Berg published an impassioned article on Good Beer Hunting’s website, defending the use adjuncts from both historical and scientific standpoints. Himself a brewer at August Schell Brewing for over 20 years, Berg objects to the ongoing criticism of adjunct ingredients in craft beer culture, particularly the Brewers Association’s “blacklisting” of large brewers who … Continue reading What’s Traditional? Revisiting History through Adjuncts

The Lager Beer Riot: Chicago’s ‘First North Side War’

Chicago’s complicated relationship with alcohol is older than classic Old Style signs, Al Capone, or local option. The city was barely twenty-one before alcohol began permanently changing its cultural and political structure. On April 21st, 1855, one thousand German immigrants, joined by some Irish neighbors, marched on city hall in protest of liquor laws which … Continue reading The Lager Beer Riot: Chicago’s ‘First North Side War’

The Smithsonian’s Promising New Beer Historian

Six months after announcing the job we all wanted, the Smithsonian has finally revealed its choice for the National Museum of American History’s beer historian. Over the next three years, Theresa McCulla will research America’s brewing history and share her findings with the public. From this historian’s perspective, they’ve made a good choice.

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