Johan Swinnen and Devin Briski
How Beer Explains the World
Oxford University Press 2017
New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Big IdeasNew Books in EconomicsNew Books in FoodNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network October 31, 2017 Mark Klobas
Beer has been a part of human civilization dating back to its beginnings. In summarizing the role it has played over the millennia, Johan Swinnen and Devin Briski’s book Beeronomics: How Beer Explains the World (Oxford University Press, 2017) reveals how the evolving roles the beverage has played exposes broader trends in the economy and society. As Briski explains in this podcast, while beer has been consumed since at least as early as Sumerian times, it wasn’t until the addition of hops as a preservative by brewers in Europe during the Middle Ages that beer became commercially viable. The development of the industry reflected more general trends, from the economies of scale that took place during the Industrial Revolution to the impact of television on small brewers in the United States in the mid-20th century. Today the industry is characterized both by a few multinational conglomerates and numerous craft brewers whose products provide a diverse counterpoint from the mass-produced lagers of the large companies. Briski reveals how these products reflect the different trends of consumption throughout the world, from the increased focus upon quality consumption in the United States and western Europe to the rapid expansion of beer consumption in places like Russia, China, and Brazil.