Book Review: Beer and Society: How We Make Beer and Beer Makes Us (Eli Revelle Yano Wilson and Asa B. Stone)

Book Review: Beer and Society: How We Make Beer and Beer Makes Us (Eli Revelle Yano Wilson and Asa B. Stone)

Quick Note

Quick note from Ben (B. Kline) of The Beer Thrillers. Paul R. Kan reached out to me a few weeks ago asking to write this book review for the blog. He is a co – owner of Burd’s Nest Brewing Company in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We were thrilled to have him reach out to us and chose the blog to write his article. We are looking forward to having him write more articles in the future here at The Beer Thrillers. I will give a quick shout out to Burd’s Nest Brewing, and post their links, and then will follow his book review, followed by a small bio he has written about himself, and then the normal wrap – up we do here on the blog.

Burd’s Nest Brewing Company

Burd’s Nest Brewing Company is a micro brewery based out of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. On Untappd they are listed as having 91 beers with a global average rating of 3.46 (as of 9.23.22). Their Untappd description is currently blank. Their social media links are:


I would like to thank Paul R. Kan for reaching out to us, and writing the following book review.

Book Review: Beer and Society: How We Make Beer and Beer Makes Us – By – Eli Revelle Yano Wilson and Asa B. Stone

Think for a moment. Where did you drink your last beer? What kind of beer was it and were you with anyone else? The answers to these simple questions lie at the heart of the new book, Beer and Society: How We Make Beer and Beer Makes Us. Whether you were drinking the newest IPA release at a craft brewery with some friends; having a Bud Light alone at home while watching a game or doing something totally different says a lot about you and the way you look at beer.

Exploring how beer gives people more than a buzz but a sense of identity as well are the book’s authors- two sociology professors at University of New Mexico who are also certified Cicerones. Their credentials as both academics and beer experts make the authors well-positioned to write this book. And like tasting a new beer, this book has many nuances and subtleties that some people will appreciate while others may not.

The authors explain how beer is more than a drink; it’s also a social identity. “Whether we intend it or not, our choice of beer signals to others about what kind of person we are and what else we stand for.” (p.5). If your last beer was a hazy IPA at your favorite craft brewery with a group of friends, then you may be communicating to others that you support local businesses, value quality beer and can afford to go out for beer. However, the person who prefers to drink Bud Light alone while watching the game may view you as a bougie elitist.

Social identity is more than just an academic way to say that we use beer to judge ourselves and others. Social identity has concrete meaning for those of us who are in the craft beer business. As an owner of Burd’s Nest Brewing Company in Carlisle, PA, I want to appeal to the social identity of as many people as possible. Yes, we’ll always have one of our IPAs on tap, but we’ll also have cans of Yuengling Lager in our beer fridge. In our area, not everyone likes beer with a bolder taste, nor can they afford the price. It’s more than economics. Because of our taproom’s large, open and light space, many people use our brewery to express their social identity through live music, art shows, yoga classes, history talks, and college seminars. Many people in our community are introduced to our beers through these events. Our social identity has become “serving beer to serve the community.”


When the authors begin to define “community” as part of social identity in chapter 3, “The Social Organization of Beer” the book becomes more controversial. The authors’ discussion of the larger economic and social forces surrounding beer production and consumption may strike the reader as a product of today’s political debates. The chapter raises questions like, “Why do we see disparities of race and gender and, more implicitly, class among those employed in the U.S. beer industry? Put simply, why is the craft beer dominated by ‘bearded White dudes?’” (p.60) It is true; 92% of breweries are owned by men; only 2% are solely owned by women; and only 1% of breweries are owned by African Americans. The authors spend a lot of time on the gap in BIPOC and LGTBQ+ representation in the brewing industry, but the authors acknowledge that it is shrinking.

Beer and Society at Burd’s Nest Brewing Company in Carlisle Pennsylvania

As a brewery owner who’s a clean-shaven-only-half-Caucasian-dude, I wrestled with this chapter. I know that I don’t look like most craft brewery owners. But that’s never been a personal or professional issue for me. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the multi-ethnic state of Hawai’i. However, another part of the authors’ research does reflect what I see—“no brewer or brewery owner we know or have talked to for this book thinks that denying someone a job based on their race and gender identity or appearance is okay.” (p.63). I have not felt the sting of discrimination in the industry and the ownership of my brewery is dedicated to providing a welcoming workplace (and taproom) for all.

Where craft breweries have felt a sting is from the business practices of multinational corporate breweries. Part of the social identity of any craft brewery is its independence. In chapter 4, “The Business of Beer,” the authors cover how “Big Beer” (like AB-ImBev and SABMiller) responded to the market threats from the exploding number of craft breweries by buying out some of them, purchasing ingredient suppliers and securing exclusive long-term contracts with malting facilities. This has challenged the ability of smaller craft breweries to maintain their independence, or just stay in business. Big Beer used these tactics before COVID, rising inflation and supply chain constraints; today the pressures on craft brewers are even more acute. Small breweries like mine can pass along only so much of the costs to our customers before the price of each pint is out of reach.

Departing from the heavy topics in previous parts of the book, chapter 6 “Beer Cultures” was the most fun. The authors examine how people in various countries enjoy beer differently, especially in the ways people toast. In Japan, it is considered rude to make eye contact when toasting. Meanwhile, many French, Spanish and Germans believe that not making eye contact while toasting is a bad omen and results in seven years of bad sex. (No offense against the Japanese, but I’m not going to take any chances when I make my next toast).

All in all, the book is a well-written journey through the terrain of what beer means to people and how people give meaning to beer. Ironically, the book’s prominent discussion of diversity, equity and inclusion topics makes it a product of beer and society. Ten years ago, a book like this would have had trouble finding a publisher, but interest in these topics has become prominent and craft beer is now much more a part of consumer demand. Beer and society will continue to shape each other. Let’s toast (while making eye contact, please) to the positive evolution of both.

Paul R. Kan Bio

Again, thank you Paul for reaching out to us to have your book review posted here. Here is the small bio he sent with his book review:


Paul R. Kan is co-owner of Burd’s Nest Brewing Company in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  He is also the author of Hawai’i Beer:  A History of Brewing in Paradise which was a 2021 North American Guild of Beer Writers’ award winner and the #1 new release on Amazon’s Books on Beer.


Some Other Book Reviews

If you are looking for other book reviews here on The Beer Thrillers, here are some more we’ve covered:



Thanks For Reading

Thank you everyone for reading, and thank you Paul R. Kan for the great book review. Hope you all enjoyed it and enjoyed your time here at the blog. Be sure to check out Burd’s Nest Brewing Company in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and be sure to like and follow The Beer Thrillers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc; and do the same for Burd’s Nest Brewing Company. Be sure to follow and subscribe here to the blog to get alerts as soon as our posts are uploaded.



-Paul R. Kan

-B. Kline


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