Geography Of Beer: How A Bubbly Brew Took Over The World

Hooray for beer!
Matthew Zook and Ate Poorthuis

Beer, that magical fermented brew, is the third-most consumed beverage on the planet. Only water and tea are more popular.

These and other facts—complete with academic-level history and analysis—are crammed into a new textbook called “The Geography of Beer”. The $129 printed compendium ($99 for an ebook) traces the origins of beer and explores flourishing cultures tied to the alcoholic drink.

In one of our favorite chapters, Mark Patterson and Nancy Hoalst Pullen, two geography professors at Kennesaw State University who co-authored the textbook, apply their knowledge of food production and the beer industry to track down how geography influences beer styles, taste, and manufacturing. The 212-page textbook also features a collection of essays by beer lovers who explore, for example, the surge in popularity of the U.S. microbrewing industry.

Chapter 17 is another favorite. Authors Matthew Zook and Ate Poorthuis studied a year’s worth of tweets to suss out Americans’ beer preferences, and their “lightbeer cyberspace” (see map, above) analysis reveals the dominance of Coors in the western U.S., Bud Light in the South and on the East Coast, and the Midwstern pocket claimed by Busch and Miller Lite.

Below are a few other fun takeways to share with your friends over a cold one:

  • Back in the Bronze Age (roughly 3000 to 1000 BC), beer ingredients included fruits and cereals. (Chapter Two, Max Nelson)

  • To date, the Brewers Association has classified more than 140 different styles of beer. (Chapter One, Mark W. Patterson and Nancy Hoalst-Pullen)

  • IPA stands for India Pale Ale, a kind of beer that originated in the 1600s and was the preferred drink by British colonists in Tropical India. (Chapter 12, Jake E. Haugland)

  • From June 2012 to May 2013 there were close to a million geocoded beer tweets sent. (Chapter 17, Matthew Zook and Ate Poorthuis)

  • Midwestern states are more likely to tweet about beer while wine-related tweets generally come from northern and central California, Oregon and Washington, where wine is grown in the region. (Chapter 17, Matthew Zook and Ate Poorthuis)