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Beer Research Guide: Culture/Society



Starting your research on a beer history topic can be exciting - and overwhelming! Remember that there is a great set of "Library How-To" guides available online.

As with any other research, it is important to know relevant dates, as well as the historical context surrounding the event, person, legislation, or topic you are researching.

Here are some searches to get you started. Remember to look for subject headings in catalog records, and keywords in article titles and abstracts in search results lists. 

1Search@OSU - Beer -- History 

beer history - Google Scholar

Here are some sources to get you started: 

Beer in the United States, Wikipedia 

Beer History Chronology

Here are some bibliographies for finding sources:

Boak and Bailey: A Virtual Beer Library Beer History Library

James Sumner's Brewing History site (not updated since 2011)

Here are some books at the OSU Library:

​The Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives has a robust collection of periodicals for topic research (note: most aren't indexed or available online).


Things to think about when researching technology and material culture:

  • labels and advertisements
  • beer containers (kegs, cans, and bottles)
  • iceworks and cooling
  • storage facilities
  • brewing apparatuses 
  • patents
Brewing technology developed alongside other industrial and scientific developments and saw significant changes in the 19th and 20th centuries. Technological advances were used to improve, expedite, or expand the harvesting of ingredients, brewing, storage/cooling, and distribution of beer. 
There are many journals and books in the OSU library to support the research of Food Science and Technology students. Try these searches in the library's catalog. 

Herman Ronnenberg's 2011 book Material Culture of Breweries. Guides to Historical Artifacts is an excellent resource. 

Looking for information about advertising and breweriana (e.g. physical items with a brewery or brand name like beer cans, bottles, bottle openers, labels, tin signs, beer mats, beer trays or taps, wooden cases and neon signs)? There are many online websites for organizations dedicated to this type of collecting, including Association Breweriana Advertising, Brewery Collectables Club of America (see their list of breweriana links for other clubs ad resources 

Do you want to do some patent searches? You can search Google Scholar for patents by combining your search term/phrase and the word “patent” (you can narrow by date, but don’t sort by date because results disappear from your list). Try it with these searches: 


The church had a significant impact on brewing as a religious and commercial enterprise. 

Google Scholar: links to search results pages


How do you research Germans and brewing?

  • Migration and immigration patterns
  • German brewers as community activists
  • Total number of German brewers
  • The impact of wars in Europe
  • Training and education
  • Language 

Sources to get you started: 


undefinedDr. Brian Alberts, an historian and beer scholar, talked to Tiah Edmunson-Morton on April 8, 2020 via Zoom about how he does his research. In this interview, he talks about how he selects a topic, thinks about historical empathy and context, writes for different audiences, and keeps track of his research. He also talks about the importance of verifying historical facts and his dissertation research on 19th century German brewers in Cincinnati and Chicago. 


The experiences of workers in breweries varied significantly based on the size, scale, and place of production.  

Google Scholar: links to search results pages

An example of a historic book available through Summit and on Google Books is Hermann Schlüter's The Brewing Industry and the Brewery Workers' Movement in America published by the International Union of United Brewery Workmen of America in 1910.


Some beer was brewed and served, but as beer was sold to larger markets the need for robust transportation systems arose to meet the needs of customers. 

Things to think about when researching transportation:

Google Scholar: links to search results pages