Robert Shea Terrell, „A Nation Fermented: Beer, Bavaria, and the Making of Modern Germany“

  • Integrates regional, national, and global history
  • Draws on underutilized archival materials in over a dozen archives across three countries
  • Narrates German history across the 20th century, emphasizing continuities rather than divisions

How did beer become one of the central commodities associated with the German nation? How did a little-known provincial production standard – the Reinheitsgebot, or Beer Purity Law – become a pillar of national consumer sentiments? How did the jovial, beer-drinking German become a fixture in the global imagination?

While the connection between beer and Germany seems self-evident, A Nation Fermented reveals how it was produced through a strange brew of regional commercial and political pressures. Spanning from the late nineteenth century to the last decades of the twentieth, A Nation Fermented argues that the economic, regulatory, and cultural weight of Bavaria shaped the German nation in profound ways. Drawing on sources from over a dozen archives and repositories, Terrell weaves together subjects ranging from tax law to advertising, public health to European integration, and agriculture to global stereotypes.

Offering a history of the Germany that Bavaria made over the twentieth century, A Nation Fermented eschews both sharp temporal divisions and a conventional focus on northern and industrial Germany. In so doing, Terrell offers a fresh take on the importance of provincial influences and the role of commodities and commerce in shaping the nation.

Table of Contents

1. Integration and Its Discontents: Lager, Tax, and Temperance, c. 1900 to the 1930s
2. The People’s Drink in the Racial State: Debating the Interests of the Volk
3. Liquid Bread: The New Politics of Bavaria from the Postwar Occupation to the Federal Republic
4. Brewing up a New Old Germany: Production, Consumption, and Social Order in the Miracle Years
5. Making a National Icon: A Political Economy of the Reinheitsgebot, 1953-1975
6. The Munich Effect: Löwenbräu, Bavarian Beer, and the Global Imaginary
7. Gone Flat?: Reconfigurations from the Recession to the Wende

Robert Shea Terrell is an assistant professor of history at Syracuse University, where he specializes in Modern Germany and Europe, with a research focus on commodity and food history. His research has been funded by the J. William Fulbright Commission, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., among other institutions. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California San Diego.