Michael Strelow bases new novel on the life of a 19th century brew master

by University Communications,

When English professor Michael Strelow first read about Henry Weinhard, a 19th century brew master from Portland, he was enthralled.

Now Weinhard is the subject of Strelow’s new book, “Henry: A novel of beer and love in the West.” The book, retailing for $14.95, is available at Amazon.com and in The Willamette Store.

“Henry Weinhard was a German immigrant, an entrepreneur, a leader of the German-American community in Portland,” Strelow says. “I found the central realities of his life engaging, indeed compelling, enough to make great fiction.”

Strelow was inspired to write about Weinhard after reading the book, “The Shaping of a City: Business and Politics in Portland, Oregon 1885 to 1915.” Through that book — and his later research with the Oregon Historical Society — his fascination with the young man grew.

“I found Henry to be fascinating guy — part scientist (brewer), part entrepreneur, part cultural ambassador for all things German,” he says. “I wrote the character of Henry out of my imagination, based on all the clues I came up with during research.”

Describing Weinhard as a likeable person, Strelow says readers of his novel can expect to learn something new — from the craft of beer brewing to the 19th century treatments for Typhoid fever and syphilis.

Strelow has taught at Willamette for more than 30 years. His previous book, “The Greening of Ben Brown,” was a finalist for the Ken Kesey Prize of the Oregon Book Awards in 2005.