How I Have Come to Write a Beer Thesis

*Originally written by Alison Duff who quit

 Almost three years ago, I was introduced to the lovely culture of craft beer. At the beginning I had a limited range of flavor profiles, did not know what hops did for beer, understood nothing about fermentation, and had no idea what was in store for my future in the brewery community. That first year, I fell in love with beer. The chemistry of brewing and wide range of ingredients intrigued my interests so greatly that I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to taste every craft beer I could, and discover the complex flavors created by a brewer who is passionate for their trade. A year after my discovery of microbrews, dreams of a college degree brought me to Ellensburg to attend Central. On New Year’s Day 2012, I drove up Main Street in Ellensburg, with my car packed to the brim, and saw something exciting: a micropub! Guess who’s beer it houses…(hint: it’s Iron Horse). Over the next two years I enjoyed Iron Horse beer, first as a customer and then as an intern.

     As some of you know, I am old and graduating this March. But they won’t give me my degree if I don’t write a senior thesis. Gross. It has to be 25 pages, include a study, and a communication theory. Like I said: Gross. What to write about…hmmm…I want to enjoy writing about it for the next three months so…How ‘bout beer?!

     Thus, begins my journey into beer research and theoretic application. I feel so grown up. I met up with my intern-boss (Jared Vah-Lay-Ho), told him about it, and he thought it was neat. I started to research and discovered a treasure trove of resources. The Brewer’s Association website has up-to-date stories and statistics of goings-on in the brewery community. In addition, the Beer Institute collaborates data into spreadsheets and does not spare a single detail. My favorite resource I found is Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer (www.ambitiousbrew.com). This book details all of the early innovators who created the beer-climate we enjoy today, Philip Best, Adolphus Busch, Frederick Pabst and more.

Fun fact! Did you know that individuals were not “allowed” to brew beer at home until 1979? Good ol’ Jimmy Carter deregulated home brewing which allows each individual to brew 100 gallons of beer and wine per year. Yowza. Little did he know that that small change in a law would help the growth of a, now, ginormous industry. Today, there are 2,538 breweries including brewpubs, microbreweries and regional breweries across the United States (Brewer’s Association, 2013).

With that being said, I went on to study the diffusion of microbreweries across the U.S. Why are they so popular? Why are they a good start-up business for entrepreneurs? What attributes of the brewing industry make it so attractive to home brewers and consumers?

As of now, I have six pages written and a stack of research articles read. More to come.

Love, Al

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