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HIST 300-14: Beer in the United States


Beer History Welcome

This page is more than a course guide for Jeff Charles' History 300-14 (Fall 2018) but a brief record of what it takes to develop an archive of San Diego craft brewing's history.

This project was the outcome of the question "Who's saving San Diego's brewing history?" asked by CSUSM Library Associate Dean (and homebrewer) Char Booth. This question was asked during the Library review of a proposed CSUSM professional brewing certificate program which is launching Spring of 2019.

Finding that none of the local universities were building a special collection of the recent local brewing industry, we took it on.

After two years of work (and learning) the Brewchivetm is building its collection every day to support research, the local brewing community, and save history in the making.

The CSUSM Brewchivetm is a collection within the CSUSM Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA).

    The Brewchivetm

    • San Diego region
    • 1980s through current
    • Breweries (business records, media coverage, breweriana)
    • People (oral histories, memorabilia)
    • Related businesses, e.g.
      • Food trucks
      • Financial services
      • Marketing
    • Events and organizations

    My Research

    Beer and my research

    • San Diego region
    • Women in the industry
    • Pre-Prohibition to today
    • Published so far....
      • One scholarly article under peer-review and another in the works
      • Presentation at a national culture conference with other beer scholars
      • Spotlight in a national library professional publication
    • Media Interviews
      • Channel 10 News (National Beer Day 9/6/17)
      • KPBS Radio
      • San Diego Magazine Hoppy Half Hour
    • Presentations
      • QUAFF
      • Longship Brewing (four lectures)
      • Southern California Homebrew Fest (panel on women in brewing)


    My activities

    • Listen and learn about beer
    • Work with the Brewchivetm Advisory Board under leadership by the Library Dean
    • Collect from active and closed/closing breweries and process the materials for the collection
    • Comb newspapers, archival collections, maps, government agencies, books and articles
    • Prepare and conduct oral history interviews
    • Handle requests for photo opportunities and research questions
    • Process the collections and oral histories
    • Work to build relationships and trust
      • Stay impartial and objective
      • Hold memberships in brewing professional and home associations and a beer scholars consortium
      • Volunteer in service capacity (server, steward, etc.) at events
      • Take classes
    • Exhibit at festivals
    • Lectures and presentations at events at breweries (solo and panels)
    • Presentations at scholarly and brewer's conferences
    • Presentations to donors and donor groups
    • Submit to peer-reviewed journals
    • Publish or contribute to a variety of professional and popular publications (American Libraries, Reader, Steps)
    • Selected and scanned historic photographs for use by a documentary filmmaker in Berlin
    • Social media
      • Facebook
      • Podcasts
      • Create and maintain the Brewchivetm webpage
    • Connect the brewing community with the appropriate CSUSM programs

    Most unusual things I have done (for the sake of the collection and beer community)

    • A Brewfittm class
    • Judged a holiday beer competition (and doing it again this year...)
    • Assistant brewer for the final batch at a now-closed brewery

    Oral History Process

    Brewer/Brewery Interview

    True or False?

    1. Before writing a history of a San Diego area brewery, you need to do some research.
    2. Before sitting down with a brewer or brewery owner, you need to do some research.
    3. Doing a search on the internet is the best place to do your research.
    4. The brewery tasting room is the best place for an interview.


    Oral History Best Practices (Oral History Association)

    Is Your Oral History Ethical and Legal? (Oral History Society)

    Before meeting with the narrators

    Have any permission forms for recording or sharing information ready.

    Create a list of potential questions but be open to wherever the interview takes you.

    Have your recording device fully charged!

    You should have certain facts established and can develop questions from missing or conflicting information.

    • When was the business founded.
    • who are the owners (are they the brewers as well?)
      • If the owners are not the brewers, who are the 'boots on the ground'?
      • If a corporation, who are the members?
      • Did they start up the brewery or buy an existing operation?
    • Locations, both past and present.
    • Some sense of the focus or theme of the brewery.
      • Review any events calendar on their website.
      • Do they have an "About" or "History" page?

    The interview

    Sit in as quiet an area as possible.

    Review the permission form and make any changes needed or clarify questions.

    Turn on the equipment and identify yourself and the date of the recording.

    Have the narrator identify themselves and where they are being interviewed. (This provides a baseline for any transcription.)

    Sample questions to include in your prompt

    Keep in mind each narrator's experience is different and they will tell you what they find important (or can remember.) You can ask for clarification on statements, but do not plan on 'leading the witness'. If they decline to answer a question, let it go as there may be something sensitive they do not wish to record.

    Start with verifying the facts you have discovered in your research (when the business started, etc.) as this will help ease the narrator into the process.

    • What path did they follow to this business?
    • What is the educational and practical background of the founders/owners/brewers?
    • Do they have anyone they consider a mentor?
    • Have they mentored anyone or had an employee start another brewery?
    • Are all owners active in the operation or are some silent partners?
    • How did they come up with the name of their business?
    • What is their philosophy (for both their beers and their environment?)
      • Do they sponsor any charities or causes?
    • What styles of beers did they start with?
    • Do they have a favorite beer style?
    • is there any style of beer they haven't tried brewing that they are considering?
    • Do they belong to any brewing organizations/merchant associations?
    • How do they view the San Diego brewing community?
    • What are future plans? Physical expansion, product expansion, or ???
    • Where do they see the current brewery scene looking like in 5, 10 or 20 years? (Both San Diego and broader view)

    Additional questions

    These can range from "What do you do with your spent grain?" to "if you hadn't opened a brewery, what would you be doing instead?"

    Closing the interview

    Thank the narrator for their time and turn off the recorder.

    If this is for the Brewchivetm records, I explain the transcription will be provided to them for review (there may be something they wish to edit).


    Brewery Research Sources

    Finding reliable information on a brewery covers a wide range of resources...

    Government sources including Federal, State and local agencies. This includes:

    Print media publications (much has been digitized)

    • San Diego Union Tribune (CSUSM databases,both a digital archive version (1872-1983 AND current (1983-on)
    • WestCoaster
    • Celebrator Beer News
    • San Diego Reader
    • Smaller local papers--you will likely need to visit the appropriate historical society or local library
    • Regional/city magazines such as San Diego Magazine, 92081, etc.

    Online/Social media

    Museums, Historical Societies, and Archives

    • Smithsonian' Brewing History
    • San Diego History Center (older breweries prior to 1953)
    • Historical Societies are in almost every community (but may not have much or inconvenient hours)
    • CSUSM Brewchivetm (small, but growing)

    Further Reading on [San Diego] Beer

    Beer Reading

    Some related readings

    Complete Guide to Opening a Nanobrewery (Mike Hess' 2009 blogpost on starting a brewery)

    Planning for Breweries in San Diego [powerpoint] American Planning Association San Diego

    Craft Beer in San Diego Society (Ernie Liwag, from the Journal of San Diego History)

    San Diego's Craft Brew Culture (Ernie Liwag and Matthew Schiff, from the Journal of San Diego History)

    A Look Back: San Diego Beer History from 1868 to 1953 (Sheldon Kaplan, WestCoaster Magazine)

    Brews that Built San Diego Beer (Ian Anderson, San Diego Reader)

    The Moya Brewery Murals: From Acme to Aztec (Frank Capeletti, Brewery History)

    Need Help?

    Judith A. Downie

    Special Collections and History Librarian
    Judith A. Downie
    760-750-4374 OR 760-750-4312 (Archives)
    Office Location: 
    Office Hours: 
    By Appointment