Virtually every country has a bestselling or iconic national beer brand: from Budweiser in the United States and Corona in Mexico, to Tsingtao in China and Heineken in Holland. Yet, with the sole exception of Ireland's Guinness, every label represents the same style: light, crisp, clear, Pilsner lager. The global spread of lager can be told as a story of Western cultural imperialism: a European product travels through merchants, migrants, and imperialists to upend local patterns and transform faraway consumers’ tastes. But this modern beer is just as much a product of globalization, invented and reinvented around the world. This lecture explores not only how humans have made beer but also how consumers have used beer to make meaning in their lives.
Jeffrey M. Pilcher, a Professor of History and Food Studies at the University of Toronto, is the author of numerous books, including Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food and Food in World History.