Classic Catalog

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One recent addition to our rare books collection a book published by the American Brewing Academy (ABA) of Chicago in celebration of its tenth anniversary (1891-1901). The ABA held a 4-day reunion in honor of the occasion, as marked by the numbers at the top of the volume (9.30-10.3…1901…)


The first thing I noticed about this book was its unusual binding; I believe this volume — like other surviving copies — is bound in hop-sack, which is the burlap-like material brewers use to bale hops.

What else makes this book awesome? In it, the authors review the history of the academy as well as the history of brewing.

Sketch of the ABA in Chicago, ca. 1900.
Interior classrooms of the ABA.

Since Grand Rapids has become such an important part of the craft brew industry, this book makes an impressive contribution to our region’s collective history. For someone researching beer brewing, this book would be a dream come true. It not only details how advances in science and technology affected early operations in the U.S., it also contains portraits of ABA staff and students and other interesting pictures.

Additionally, Grand Rapids has a local link to this book. Our own Adolph Goetz (many of the early brewers were German) represented the Grand Rapids Brewing Company as an alumni (fourth course, February to June 1893). At its tenth anniversary mark, the ABA had had 19 classes graduate, as each course varied in length.

This is Adolph’s class.


Adolph Goetz of the Grand Rapids Brewing Company.

A little more background: The ABA in Chicago was founded in 1891 and was viewed as the premier pre-prohibition brewing school in the United States. By 1901, the school boasted approximately 600 graduates and former students — men who operated or managed breweries in the United States as well as in Canada, Mexico, and South America. The major cities you would expect are represented: Boston, Milwaukee, St. Louis, etc., but it’s cool to see Grand Rapids on the beer scene so early.