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Beer Research Guide: Past Paper Topics


Students in past HST 417: History of Beer and Brewing classes have worked on a variety of topics. Some examples on this page are broad and in need of focus, but give you an idea of what has been researched and written about in the past.

  • NOTE: these are topics, not thesis statements. 

Remember to be specific when choosing a topic and writing a thesis statement. Narrow to a place or time frame, compare companies or styles, and make sure there are primary sources to support your research. 

  • If you are measuring success of a company, change in a demographic, or the impact of a law make sure you have measurements for evaluating. Success might mean more production or more awards won. Change in a demographic might mean fewer 20-25 year old consumers are drinking beer. The impact of Prohibition might have meant an increase in soda factories or closing of family businesses.  
  • For example, if you are interested in beer advertising, considering narrowing it to changes in beer advertising in American print media in the 1980s. There is a section on this guide to get you started, are print primary sources in the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives collections, and are digitized newspaper materials in the New York TimesMachine and advertisements in the Digital Public Library of America.

Impact of television advertising on midsize or small breweries.
Government regulation of beer advertising.
Alcohol advertising and adolescent drinking. 
Music in beer commercials. 
History of logos, branding, and trademarking of early beer brands. 

Fred Eckhardt and his influence on homebrewing / craft beer in Oregon. 
Joseph Owades and his influence on the creation of light beer. 
History of the Anheuser-Busch family. 
Carrie Nation and her work during Prohibition. 

History of X Brewing Company.
History of consumer boycotts and labor disputes at the Coors Brewing Company.   

Relationship of religion and beer. 
Brewing and Catholic Saints. 
Monastic influence on beer and brewing.
Medieval guilds, economics, and the Catholic Church. 
History of brewing and the Grimbergen Abbey. 
Prohibition and anti-Catholic sentiment. 

History of Cider making in Oregon.
Cider production in America (or England, or Europe). 
Gender and cider production in Colonial Chesapeake. 
History of orchard planting and management for cider apples. 

Pub culture in England. 
Saloons in American culture during the 19th and early 20th century.
Intersection of beer and politics.
Indigenous brewing in America (or Mexico). 
Cultural and economic significance of Viking beer. 
Comparison of Oktoberfest festivals in America and Germany. 
Japanese drinking rituals. 
Frontier alcohol culture: beer in Alaska-Yukon Territory mining towns.
Baseball and beer. 
Study of race or class in brewing industry. 
Beer production and consumption in the COVID-19 era.

Beer in cooking. 
Beer and food pairings. 

Women's role in the Temperance movements.
Women in modern craft beer. 
Women and beer production in ancient eras (e.g., Mesopotamia, Jaihu, China, Egypt). 
Women, beer, and witches. 
History of the Pink Boots Society
Representation of women in beer advertising in the 1950s. 
History of Japanese women and sake production. 

Changes in perceived health benefits of fermented foods or drinks.  
Hangover cures. 
Preventative properties of hops compounds. 

Women and home brewing in Colonial America.  
Home brewing in the middle ages in England.
Historical brewing processes used in modern home brewing. 

Willamette Valley hop growing and the link to growth of craft beer in Oregon. 
History of hop research in Corvallis, Oregon (OSU, USDA).
Impact of the Cascade hop on the popularity of India Pale Ale.
History of Chinese hop growers in the Pacific Northwest.
Study of the demographics of hop pickers on the West Coast between 1860 and 1920.
History of hop research in England. 
Study of how monks used hops in beer.
Pest management in hops / Insect ecology and hops. 

Impact of German and Austrian immigrants on Mexico’s brewing history. 
German immigration and the impact on 19th century American beer styles.

Impact of the Industrial Revolution on brewing in Chicago. 
Workers and the industrialization of brewing in London.
Impact of the three-tier system on microbreweries. 

Change in local media coverage of Oregon beer between the 1980s and the present.
Impact of breweries on Bend’s local economy.
History of brewing and saloons in Junction City.
The Weinhard family and 19th century brewing in Oregon. 
19th century German and Swiss immigrant brewers in Portland. 
History of Great Western Malting Company. 

Study of craft brewing on the West Coast (looking at 2-4 companies or cities). 
Beer and the revitalization of small towns in the Pacific Northwest. 
Alaska Brewing Company, Yukon Brewing Company and craft beer in Alaska/Canada. 
Beer in Asheville, North Carolina.
Impact of brewing industry on regional identities in Bohemia and Germany.
Beer-making in Scandinavia. 

Adaptation of breweries in New York during Prohibition. 
Impact of Prohibition on American beer consumption.
Key people in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and/or Anti-Saloon League.
Near beer and/or needle beer.
Bootlegging during Prohibition.
Prohibition and organized crime in Chicago
Prohibition outside of the United States.

Chicha and maize beers in the South American Andes.
Sake in Japan in the 20th century.
History of Marzen beers.
Development of the taxonomy of beer styles.
India Pale Ale in Oregon (see also standard bitter IPA, aromatic IPA, Hazy IPA in New England).
Czech brewing styles in America. 
Porter and early industrial brewing in Britain.
Gluten free beer in Africa.

Use of geothermal energy and other renewable resources in brewing.
The influence and impact of sustainability practices at of Hopworks Urban Brewery. 
Using waste water to brew beer.
Sustainability efforts and marketing in the brewing industry.

Evolution of equipment technologies for beer production
History of carbonation in beer. 
Evolution of the beer can.
Impact of bottling technology on beer distribution. 
Artificial refrigeration and American lager beer in the late 19th century. 
Carlsberg Laboratory and its impact on scientific brewing.

Growth in the Japanese brewing industry after WWII. 
Canned beer and the Vietnam war.
Beer in American soldier’s rations during WWII. 
Brewing in Germany in World War I and World War II.
The growth of Anheuser-Busch after WWII (1945-1980).