Geography Geography of Beer
Mark Patterson, Nancy Hoalst-Pullen
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 January 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 12 January 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199874002-0252


The geographic distribution of archeological evidence shows beer has been a part of many societies for millennia. Beer (fermented, non-distilled beverage from grains) was produced on every continent, save Australia and Antarctica. Today, of course, beer can be found on every continent. But the recent craft beer explosion only started in the 1980s. As brewers experimented and new beer styles increased in number, scholars started branching out in their investigations of beer. The spatial differences and distribution of beer lent themselves to exploration by geographers in many subfields of the discipline. The articles that follow have been grouped into five major areas in which geographic research tends to fall—namely, Regions and Societies, Neolocalism, Environment and Sustainability, Economics, and History.

Regions and Societies

Beer exemplifies regional geography. The similarities and differences among regions and cultures are reflected in beer names and styles produced in those regions. The histories behind the geographic appellations of European beer are showcased in Mittag 2014. Cornell 2020 traces the creation and development of porter starting in London, while Wojtyra and Grudzień 2017 analyze recent trends in Poland’s craft beer movement. Similarly, Dennett and Page 2017 look at the role geography plays in the growth of London’s breweries. In the Americas, Gatrell, et al. 2018, and Shears 2014 examine the rapid expansions in select US locales, while Gauss and Beatty 2014 reflect on the interwoven history and geography impacting beer in Mexico. Argent 2018 and Rogerson and Collins 2015 focus on how places and societies have integrated beer as part of their development strategies in Australia and South Africa, respectively.

  • Argent, N. “Heading Down to the Local? Australian Rural Development and the Evolving Spatiality of the Craft Beer Sector.” Journal of Rural Studies 61 (2018): 84–99.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2017.01.016

    Examines the contributions breweries make to rural regional development in Australia.

  • Cornell, M. “Porter for the Geography of Beer.” In The Geography of Beer: Culture and Economics. Edited by N. Hoalst-Pullen and M. Patterson, 7–22. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2020.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-41654-6_2

    Traces the development of porter from its roots in London to become the first beer brewed and consumed globally.

  • Dennett, A., and S. Page. “The Geography of London’s Recent Beer Brewing Revolution.” The Geographical Journal 183.4 (2017): 440–454.

    DOI: 10.1111/geoj.12228

    An investigation of the growth of breweries in London exhibits spatial clustering patterns, particularly in the Bermondsey and Hackney districts.

  • Esposti, R., M. Fastigi, and E. Viganò. “Italian Craft Beer Revolution: Do Spatial Factors Matter?” Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development 24.3 (2017): 503–527.

    DOI: 10.1108/JSBED-12-2016-0191

    Assesses the role of specific geographical and local factors included in econometric models to explain brewery entry and exit choices in Italy.

  • Gatrell, J., N. Reid, and T. L. Steiger. “Branding Spaces: Place, Region, Sustainability and the American Craft Beer Industry.” Applied Geography 90 (2018): 360–370.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2017.02.012

    Posits the growth of the US craft beer industry as lying at the nexus of nature, place, and identity.

  • Gauss, S. M., and E. Beatty. “The World’s Beer: The Historical Geography of Brewing in Mexico.” In The Geography of Beer: Regions, Environment, and Societies. Vol. 1. Edited by M. Patterson and N. Hoalst-Pullen, 57–65. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2014.

    Explores how history and geography have shaped the modern-day beer scene in Mexico.

  • Mittag, R. “Geographic Appellations of Beer.” In The Geography of Beer: Regions, Environment, and Societies. Vol. 1. Edited by M. Patterson and N. Hoalst-Pullen, 67–74. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2014.

    Provides the history and geography behind the names of beer styles originating in Europe.

  • Rogerson, C. M., and K. J. Collins. “Beer Tourism in South Africa: Emergence and Contemporary Directions.” Nordic Journal of African Studies 24.3–4 (2015): 241–258.

    DOI: 10.53228/njas.v24i3&4.122

    Examines the emergence, growth, and changing directions of South African beer tourism.

  • Shears, A. “Local to National and Back Again: Beer, Wisconsin & Scale.” In The Geography of Beer: Regions, Environment, and Societies. Vol. 1. Edited by M. Patterson and N. Hoalst-Pullen, 45–56. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2014.

    The Wisconsin craft brewing movement represents a reversal of earlier agglomeration trends.

  • Wojtyra, B., and Ł. Grudzień. “The Development of the Beer Industry in Poland During ‘Craft Beer Revolution’ (2011–2016).” Studies of the Industrial Geography Commission of the Polish Geographical Society 31.1 (2017): 52–67.

    DOI: 10.24917/20801653.311.4

    Explores the spatial distribution, intensity, and dynamics of Poland’s craft beer revolution.

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