Brian Alberts, PhD

Headshot Brian AlbertsI am a historian who uses beer and brewing as lenses for American history. After receiving my PhD from Purdue University in May 2018 I began consulting with the Chicago Brewseum, where I now serve as Program Director.

I am committed to exploring beer’s instructive, collaborative, and public history potential. As part of the Chicago Brewseum, these explorations have led to individual events, partnerships with breweries as well as historical & cultural organizations, historically-themed collaboration beer projects (seriously, how rewarding is it to get scholarship printed on a beer can?), an exhibit on Chicago brewing history at the Field Museum, Brewseum ‘tours’ of other U.S. cities, academic conferences, and most recently the development of a hybrid conference concept blending public, brewing industry, museum, and academic communities.

Beyond my work with the Chicago Brewseum, I occasionally write media pieces, provide podcast, documentary, and radio interviews, teach courses, and further organize public talks.

My research interests are constantly expanding, but my core expertise focuses on nineteenth century brewing in the Midwest, American capitalism, German immigration, and ethnicity. 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 Cincinnati and Chicago between 1840 and 1880. In addition, I am currently researching parallels between the proliferation of lager beer during the 1800s and modern craft beer for an upcoming edited volume.

I can be contacted at

Recent Posts

The New Beer Culture Summit is a Mixed Fermentation

On a sunny August day last year, I was driving north on the Dan Ryan expressway with Chicago Brewseum founder and director Liz Garibay, bound for lunch at Forbidden Root. We’d just left a meeting about the Chicago Brewseum’s exhibit, “Brewing Up Chicago,” then still in production. It’d been a long morning—I’d driven up from … Continue reading The New Beer Culture Summit is a Mixed Fermentation

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’

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