It's wet hop season! This is burned into my soul with a hot iron because I'm in week three of being sick and haven't been able to partake. I missed The Bistro's Wet Hop Festival for crying out loud. This. Has. To. End.
Anyway, it's wet hop season, and that brought me to thinking, since I've been thinking about wet hop season for a while now, pretty much since the Southern Hemisphere Wet Hop beer from Sierra Nevada came out this summer (that beer is ahead of the curve because it's winter down in New Zealand when it's summer here).
Sometimes the internet is well ahead of consumption data. Think of beer trading sites, news alerts, brewery press releases, and excited pre-release googling. At BeerGraphs, we hope to take advantage of this other data stream a few different ways. One way is to look at blog and review activity for existing beers to see if there is a way to use that data on our leaderboards. Another way is to try to stay on top of the news with a weekly news roundup, starting soon.
Could google search terms be another source of data? Back to wet hop season. Check out the ngram/google trends graph for 'wet hop' as a search term.
Well that's fun. You might be able to define the season by those peaks. The highest peaks, going backwards from the one we are enjoying this October 2013: September-October 2012, October 2011, March 2011, October 2010, August-October 2009... and so on. So, yeah, we're in season for wet hops. You may think this is an obvious thing to say, but definition by data is always useful, and there may be ways to use this to identify new seasons as they are born. Let's start a saison season next spring, no?
You can also look at regional differences in the search term. Wet hop is being searched for in California, New York and Illinois, that's no surprise. So let's up the sample size and see where 'craft beer' is being searched for:
If you assume the New Hampshire hits are all for Vermont, you pretty much have craft beer's best states all listed here in one place. Except California. And what's up in Boston?
Last, let's look at the rise of craft beer over time. Its march is unstoppable. What's going on every May, though? And look at the map in the header over time... did New York and Pennsylvania start this new craft beer trend? I think we've found a new tool we might be able to use here.