When Beer Was King does a splendid job fleshing out the skeletal remains of the OTR that once was home to brewers and burlesque players. And given the history of street wars and political upheaval, the author’s tales of libation and intrigue have touches of The Gangs of New York (the book, which is well worth a read).
Morgan makes a reasonable play at answering the natural question of what happened to the Queen City of the West (Prohibition dried up some of Cincinnati’s brightest lights) and raises some unexpected issues, too.
Using primary sources and interspersing the political history with as many ground-level stories as he could find, Morgan weaves a compelling tale of the OTR of yore. The details about the tunnels and subterranean beer factories hidden below the streets are especially scintillating, though I found it difficult to visualize the spaces and wished the author would have provided some maps and illustrations to pinpoint where these cavities are and how they are arranged. But When Beer Was King does a fine job of portraying a troubled, romantic slice of local history and it deserves accolades. Grade: B