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Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss
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Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,148 ratings  ·  173 reviews
In the tradition of Rich Cohen’s Sweet and Low and Sean Wilsey’s Oh the Glory of it All, a memoir of a city, an industry, and a dynasty in decline, and the story of a young artist’s struggle to find her way out of the ruins.

Frances Stroh’s earliest memories are ones of great privilege: shopping trips to London and New York, lunches served by black-tied waiters at the Regen
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Harper
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 ·  1,148 ratings  ·  173 reviews

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Aug 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
This is the kind of book that should remind all of us that it isn't actually that easy to write a memoir because most of us don't actually write all that well and our lives aren't nearly as interesting to other people as we personally find them to be. The only reason this thing got published is because Frances Stroh has a recognizable last name.

Her story just isn't that singular or profound: her family once had a lot of money and then they didn't. Even there they aren't that interesting: these
Laura Falby
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Story of a dysfunctional family who had the bad luck to be born into a family business that allowed them all to behave even more badly. Frances Stroh doesn't provide many insights into how the Stroh family fortune gave them permission to act out, drop out and screw up their lives. Were there any successful members of the Stroh family, with healthy relationships? She could have contrasted why she thought that they survived and her family collapsed. She had an insider's seat but we don't end up kn ...more
May 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
This is a well-written and well-edited memoir about growing up with family money, and realizing one day, as an adult, that all the family money is gone. Money, though, is not the main topic of the book. Frances Stroh is an artist and much of the story is about her art and photography, the latter a love shared with her father. Most of the story is about her father and the rest of her family, and this book is currently the “#1 New Release in Dysfunctional Families” at Amazon. One could laugh at th ...more
Dec 04, 2016 rated it liked it
An interesting perspective of an American institution that failed--but hardly a revelation. Thirty-five percent of Fortune 500 companies are family enterprises, yet only about 13 percent survive to the third generation. It appears the Stroh's family business lasted far longer than most. The book's subtitle is: “A Memoir of Privilege and Loss”. The privilege is obvious but I can only hope that she's referring to the “loss” as being the personal damage that privilege and fortune can reek on unwary ...more
Steve Peifer
Jul 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I live in the land of the entitled, and this gave me insight into the biggest issue they have: losing what they have. Those without think that having would take away their problems but having leads to fear. No free lunch.

All that being said, there wasn't an intentionality to that insight from the author. She has a cluelessness that continues to startle: she is outraged that her father's million dollar pipe collection was ONLY worth $50,000. It goes without saying that most people won't inherit a
Judy Nelson
Jun 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to Judy by: new york times
Shelves: memoir
Frances' story of family money and dysfunction is not uncommon, so it was not so surprising to read.
However, her writing is strong and I think the book came together well. As others have said, it was an easy read. The review on Goodreads says that the photos in the book were hers, but most of them were taken by her father, and they are lovely.
Gail Cooke
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it

A fascinating but sad American story Beer Money is inextricably linked with the deterioration of Detroit, a once great city, the Stroh Brewery Company, at one time the third largest beer maker in our country and holder of the largest private beer fortune, and the Strohs themselves, a dysfunctional family. Frances Stroh writes candidly and honestly in this moving memoir that readers will not soon forget.

As a child Frances appeared to be her father’s darling, accompanying him to New York and Lon
Rachel Howard
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I met Frances Stroh in a writing class back in 2001 and was subsequently in a writing critique group with her for about six years. I count myself lucky to know her as a friend and as a fellow writer. I read parts of "Beer Money" when she was just beginning the book. I could not be more dazzled by how the book has come together. We don't talk much about love and compassion as the key factors of a good book; we're far more comfortable talking about the writing style, the structure ...more
Jun 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting story. I grew up near by, so I enjoyed the references to familiar places, and some known only by name, because my family traveled in a different sphere.
I liked the author's straight forward telling of her privileged life, and the insider's interpretation of the business problems at Stroh. Puzzled by Stroh's position that the company came apart because it stayed in Detroit--like Detroit is the villain that brought the family and it's business down? The blame is more appropriately plac
Apr 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
On one hand this is an interesting look at what it was like to be rich and white in Detroit in the 80s, and it is well written and a perfectly serviceable memoir. On the other hand, this completely lacks any perspective or self awareness. So when she gets thrown out of private school, or her father remarries her peer, or she can't find the words to explain that she is an installation artist to her grandma, or that she is struggling to pay rent, it comes across as the worst kind of whiny and priv ...more
(This is a review of the Audio Edition of "Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss" written by Frances Stroh and narrated by Erin Bennett. It is unabridged at 6 hours and 37 minutes long, and published by Blackstone Audio. I received a free copy of this audio book in exchange for my honest review. Warning: a few spoilers!)

It's hard to review an audio book that one experiences as simply "OK." It's much easier to find words to describe an exceptional read or a terrible groaner. However, in the
Sarah Sullivan
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a brisk read, interesting. I didn't develop a great amount of sympathy for any of the characters but was never the less interested in the arc of their lives and the family company. Some broad generalizations throughout the book as well. ...more
Jun 11, 2016 rated it liked it
On the whole I found the writing lovely, with a spare, well-wrought style that moved along at a satisfying clip, and the story compelling but frustrating -- I wanted to know so much more, and was left with so many unanswered questions.
I don't know whether to call this a biography of the Stroh brewing family or an autobiography of Frances Stroh herself. When I was frustrated by the lack of history about the Stroh Brewery or the lack of detail about the business's failure, I would tell myself it'
Michael Clifford
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very interesting history of the Stroh brewing family. Stroh's had a 150 year brewing history in Detroit. The family was one of the richest in America. This is the story of Frances Stroh - and how she grew up in privilege in a dysfunctional family. The father Eric Stroh was the marketing chief for Stroh's but really aspired to be a photographer. He spent extensively on art and collectibles. The mother was distant and somewhat frugal. During the 1980's Stroh's went on an expansion briefly becoming ...more
Judith Colson
True Title

This is a well-written book that goes in one direction- down. The lessons that are pointed out, never seen to be learned. The main characters seem to always be very shallow.
Julia Scheeres
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, tragic tale of epic proportions. It's not about money, it's not about beer, it's about a family disintegrating and a young artist being born. Haunting and brave. ...more
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Yup, your life is really not that interesting.
Tracy Miller
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
I don't think I'm in the right headspace for a poor little rich girl book. It just makes me think about how if someone gave me some actual money, I'm sure I could do better with it. ...more
Joseph Luizzi
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
The decay and collapse of the family and its Stroh’s beer empire is framed as a metaphor for Detroit and Industrial America. Not sure if it really gets there.

Reading it was, somewhat voyeuristic, like watching a train wreck, but it is nearly impossible to sympathize for this privileged group “spoiled children”.
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I would have given this 2.5 starts. What a horrible person. While it was interesting reading about the Stroh era, I got tired of her selfish whining. I enjoyed the Detroit history and reading about places in my town, but she isn’t a writer. She was mean spirited with her naming names and she really doesn’t get her privilege, as far as I can tell. I got this for free. Glad I didn’t pay for it!
Jim Breslin
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Mildly interesting memoir about how one faction of the Stroh family watched their fortunes dissolve. Frances Stroh's father worked at the family brewery, which over the course of five generations had grown tremendously, providing the extended family with valuable dividends. Unfortunately, the family run business faltered after a series of poor business decisions such as purchasing smaller breweries and failing to see the rise of the light beer in the eighties. The memoir focuses on the relations ...more
Jennifer Vick
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
More like a 2.5 stars.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I mostly wanted to read this book to find out about the demise of Stroh's beer. Previously, I read about the Gallo brothers, the Mondavi brothers, the Coors family, and the rise and fall of the Busch family, and greatly enjoyed them. Not so much info about Strohs beer {although some]. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this read. As noted by many, the writing and editing are terrific. I did enjoy her struggle to break away from her dysfunctional family and make a life of her own as all of us must do. Stroh ...more
Megan Cashen
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
This book would have been better if every fifth word wasn't "Grosse Pointe," the wealthy Detroit suburb the author grew up in. I can understand that growing up with privilege, especially fading privilege, can be hard, but the author managed to be so self centered and self pitying that you feel no sympathy for her or her family. ...more
Christina Dudley
May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fast, sad, interesting memoir of a rich family's rather speedy decline. Good reason to make your kids get summer jobs and learn how to earn a living. The parallel decline of Detroit provides a fitting backdrop. ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Classic tale of the family business being frittered away by overly self-indulgent family with zero management skills and no feel for the market.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
V. Goethals
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Certainly not a happy story, but pretty riveting and probably more so because it happened so very close both in proximity and along the same timeline as my own adulthood was coming about.

Written by the daughter of the fifth generation of Stroh family members, this story takes place when Detroit was struggling under Mayor Coleman Young, Stroh's the family owned brewer in Detroit was going through some major changes in ownership, and during my early adult years. I was well aware of the difficult
Cynthia Harrison
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm from Detroit, have toured the Stroh factory (before it fell) and knew a guy who worked at their waterfront development with offices, apartments and a hotel. He said there was free beer all day and nobody cared how much you imbibed. He worked in IT so perhaps a hint of losses to come...Ah, those were the good old days but Detroit and the Stroh family fortunes have changed. I read this page turner of a book in one night -- the Stroh non-heiress who wrote it knows her way around words. The tale ...more
Jason McCaffrey
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I feel bad rating this 3 stars. It's really well-written and Stroh can really paint a picture with words. But it feels dishonest to rate 4 stars, aka "really liked it" in Goodreads land, because, despite enjoying the prose and structure, I found it to be a pretty depressing read. The cover says "a memoir of privilege and loss," so I guess I should've known what I was getting into.

Stroh uses Detroit as an analogy for the rise and fall of her family. It's an apt comparison. And as someone who has
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Frances Stroh was born in Detroit and raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She received her B.A. from Duke University and her M.A. from Chelsea College of Art in London as a Fulbright Scholar. She practiced as an installation artist, exhibiting in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London before turning to writing.

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