Virtual Pub Crawl: Assessing the Utility of Social Media for Geographic Beer Research in the United States

Alexander Savelyev
Texas State University

Delorean Wiley
Texas State University

Colleen C. Myles
Texas State University

Paepin D. Goff
Texas State University

(Re)localized craft ferments have taken hold of the public imagination. Moreover, beer has become an important economic and social driver, making it an increasingly popular focus for academic study and for public policy. We surveyed the existing literature and found that most beer-related geographic research was based on historical, cultural, and economic analyses. To broaden the horizons for beer research, especially given its increasing prominence in public perceptions of taste, we examined how big data sources might be leveraged to add narrative and description to the geographic study of beer. As little is known about the utility or validity of big data sources on this topic, we investigated the presence of seven beers in two online social media communities, BeerAdvocate and Twitter. By combining qualitative and quantitative approaches, vis a vis the analysis of geo-tagged social media data, we assess the potential for researchers to examine beer attributes in more granular ways. We find that BeerAdvocate is useful in terms of identifying both spatial, temporal, and thematic attributes about specific beers and breweries in a systematic way while Twitter is primarily used to re-broadcast contributions made on other platforms. Further, the results of our investigation provide information about the abundance, validity, and content of beer posts within two social media communities, directing further studies concerned with assessing the geographic taste(s) for (craft) beer in the United States.

KEYWORDS: Craft Beer, Geography, Social Media, Taste, Methods

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