Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society


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The Taproom: Jeffrey Pilcher

“The Global Invention of Lager Beer”

By Jeffrey Pilcher

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“Around the World in 80 Beers.” Image courtesy of PureTravel.com.

“Around the World in 80 Beers.” It’s an arresting image of the globalization of beer. This map on the PureTravel website depicts each country according to its bestselling or iconic national brand: from Budweiser in the United States and Corona in Mexico, to Tsingtao in China and Oettinger in Germany. What is so striking about the image is that, with the sole exception of Ireland’s Guinness Stout, every label represents a single style: light, crisp, clear, Pilsner lager. The global spread of lager beer can be told as a story of Western cultural imperialism: A European product sails out in the hands of merchants, migrants, and imperialists to upend social patterns and transform landscapes around the world. But modern lager beer is just as much a product of globalization, invented and reinvented in locations around the world. Continue reading


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The Taproom: Susan Gauss

Un trago amargo—A Bitter Drink: Beer, Water, and Globalization”

By Susan Gauss

A truck drives down the street in Zaragoza, Coahuila, its loudspeaker reminding residents to conserve water or face fines. Local farmers also feel the pain, as they scale back planting due to a lack of water. Yet nearby, water is flowing well through an aqueduct carrying it to a factory 40 kilometers away in Nava, Coahuila. The factory is new, built by Grupo Modelo—maker of the world-famous Corona beer—in 2010 and expanded after its 2013 takeover by Constellation Brands. Inside, it produces 22 million beers a day for export largely to the US, each made using 3.25 liters of water piped in from the aquifer that serves Zaragoza.

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Image courtesy of Banco de imágenes de Mexicali Resiste.

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The Taproom

Everyone’s Favorite Topic: Beer and the Rest of the World”

By Pavla Šimková

beer-a-pint-cup-alcohol-65210When I started doing research in beer history, I had no idea what I was getting into.

I doubt there is a beer pun in the world I haven’t heard yet. People have wished me hoppy holidays. They can barley contain their excitement about interesting beer articles they have just read. They collapse in fits of laughter when talking about the first draft of my project.

I have gotten used to people treating my research as something of a joke, a topic growing out of a personal fondness for the malt beverage. Mostly I play along: When I go to a pub, I’m conducting empirical research. When my pint arrives, I sniff and swirl the glass as if it were Château Lafite and pontificate about strong hoppy-citrus flavors and dark malts with just a touch of smoke. (My friend Malcolm can actually do this—wait until you read his contribution to this blog!) Continue reading