Google recently released a simple little tool that essentially lets you run trends on word usage over the last 500 years. The tool searches over 500 Billion words contained in 1 million of the books they have scanned. I just played around with it for a few minutes and found some interesting beer related trends.
Beer and Ale had similar usage rates 200 years ago, with beer now the dominant term (lager is surprisingly unpopular).
There was a large spike in homebrewing interest during prohibition and then it crashed back down until the early 1990s.
Interest in wine is more variable than beer over the last 300 years.
There were spikes of interest in hops around 1700 and 1800, anybody have a theory on this one?
That's all I found, if you find any other good ones leave a comment.
The Mad Fermentationist (Mike)