Mini-Series Explores US History Under the Influence of Beer and Whiskey

According to Discovery’s new mini series How Booze Built America, the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock not because they planned to (they were sailing for Virgina) but because they ran out of beer.  Had I known this in high school, I probably would have paid much more attention in history class.

Starting Wednesday, September 19th at 10pm E/P, booze-infused gems like this one will be strung together to tell the story of how adult libations have influenced some of America’s most iconic moments, from the Johnny Appleseed’s quest to plant apples (for hard cider as it turns out) to the space race (which was pushed forward by JFK, who never would have won the presidency without the money his daddy made as a bootlegger).

What could be better than that?  Well, having Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe host the thing, which is exactly what Discovery has done. 

Appearing on SiriusXM’s Opie & Anthony Show, Mr. Rowe says How Booze Built America was born out of boredom.  Dirty Jobs had hit the 300th episode mark, and had been filmed in all 50 states and Australia.  He was a bit burned out, and when asked what he’d be more interested in exploring, he said booze and history.  The result is three weekly installments that fuse together these two very things.

It sounds like the format will follow one of my favorite geeky treats from when I was a kid, the show Connections hosted by science historian James Burke.  Each episode follow the meandering path of how a seemingly small event from the past, like the invention of the touchstone in ancient civilizations, led to a modern-day thing like nuclear weapons.  In How Booze Built America, it’s how the berserk actions of Carrie Nation, the hatchet wielding woman who used to go bust up bars to protest the sale of alcohol, eventually led to America landing the first man on the moon.  It sounds like my kind of show – Connections with hooch!

How Booze Built America premiers on Wednesday, September 19th at 10pm, with a new installment to follow each of the following two Wednesday nights.  Of course there’ll be tons of reruns (people love Mike Rowe AND booze!), so if you miss it, just check the interwebs for when it’ll be on next.



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Categories: Beer, Lifestyle, News, Spirits, Whiskey


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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11 Comments on “Mini-Series Explores US History Under the Influence of Beer and Whiskey”

  1. September 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Ah, one of my favorite subjects–thanks for the heads-up. Wonder if they’ll touch on the role of whiskey in British-American history as well, or the recent theories that beer was what caused hunter-gather and pastoral humans to settle down to agriculture (for example see Beer Lubricated the Rise of Civilization, Study Suggests, by Charles Q. Choi, 05 November 2010 (

  2. BitOJoy
    September 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    I had no idea about this show. Now, I’ve got something to look forward to tomorrow night! Thanks 🙂

  3. September 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    I am happy about this, but I would be even happier if somehow Prof. Brian Cox was hosting.

  4. thehidalgograincompany
    September 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Following “How Booze Built America”, they should show the PBS “Prohibition” documentary series just to let people know what happens when government & religion get together & try to take it away…

    • September 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      I’m guessing that’ll be covered here, hopefully with a hearty dollop of snark.

    • September 19, 2012 at 10:43 am #

      Don’t forget the bootleggers who had higher profits from Prohibition. Bootleggers and Baptists go together like beer and pretzels.

      • thehidalgograincompany
        September 19, 2012 at 11:15 am #

        True – a lot of people don’t realize that. For years Santa Rosa County (Florida) was a dry county – up until a few years ago , in fact. Bootleggers supported the dry laws & were often instrumental in having the local Baptist preachers push their congregations to always vote against becoming wet.

  5. Brandon
    September 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    I wonder if they’ll have an entire episode about Pumpkin beers. Lol 😉

  6. Michael
    September 21, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    I guess booze is still building Alabama at a slower pace.

  7. Don
    September 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    Hate to say it, but it was BORING! I fell asleep half way through the first episode. 😦

    • September 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

      To each his own Don. I am loving it. I am completely geeking out. Whiskey as money? Cool. The daily liquor rations to soldiers and the men who dug the Erie Canal. It’s irreverent, and not at all like my 8th grade social studies courses. Drunks making history. Who knew?

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