“How Booze Built America” arrives on Discovery

Booze. Beer. No matter on what side of the fence you sit — whether you support the Temperance League or are a hopelessly indulgent, unapologetic boozer — alcohol has always been a subject that inspires passion. But did you know that it also helped to shape America? Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe does, and he’s taking viewers on a cross-country trip to illustrate how it all went down in Discovery Channel’s three-part series, How Booze Built America, premiering tonight at 10pm ET/PT.

How Booze Built America has Rowe taking us back to the very roots of this country, to the days immediately before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Mass., when their trip to the Virginia colony was cut short largely in part due to the shortage of beer aboard the Mayflower. He then proceeds to illustrate the direct role that taverns played in the development of American society, from Paul Revere’s probable consumption of beer on his Midnight Ride, to Abe Lincoln selling suds in his grocery stores in the days before his presidency.

Typical of Rowe — and even more typical of a show about booze — How Booze Built America is far from dry. This is by no means a history lesson for people to take too seriously. Rowe and Discovery seem to just want to say that booze has been intertwined in American history from the beginning, and to show you just how cozy that partnership has been. And How Booze Built America does it with style and fun, including re-enactments of period events, interviews with historians who speak with authority on the presence and involvement of intoxicants in our nation’s history, and a certain amount of wink ‘n’ nod humor along the way. From the Mayflower to the moon shot, from George Washington’s whiskey distillery to the O.K. Corral, Rowe’s How Booze Built America uncorks a secret history of America that’s likely unfamiliar to many or most of its citizens.


Photo: Discovery Channel