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Church or beer? Boston tweets way more about beer

Posted by Gary Dzen, Staff  July 11, 2012 07:00 AM

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If you're reading this blog, you probably like beer. You may also live in Boston. If both of these things are true, you're unlikely to be surprised by a data map released by the website, which shows that more people here tweet the word "beer" than the word "church".

There's some real statistical analysis behind the map above, but the details aren't exciting. I graduated with a biology major and now write about beer and sports, so I know all about avoiding nitty gritty scientific details. The gist of the data is that some 10 million tweets sent within the continental US between June 22 and June 28 were combed for the words "church" or "beer". Some 17,686 tweets contained the word "church", while 14,405 tweets contained the word "beer". It's important to note that ONLY tweets that were geotagged were tracked, and that 1 to 3 percent of all tweets are geotagged. That's a very small percentage of all tweets sent, but 10 million is still a lot of tweets.

Using only geotagged tweets provides the obvious advantage of being able to see where they're sent from. Mapping "beer" tweets vs. "church" tweets is a pretty interesting glimpse at society, even if no true scientific conclusion can be drawn from the experiment. Another caveat, mentioned by the study, is that tweeting the word "church" isn't necessarily indicative of a person's religious beliefs. Blah blah, I'll stop ruining all the fun.

The results? The dark blue on the map means much more beer tweets, the dark red means much more church tweets. As you can see, the Northeast has the greater concentration of beer-centric tweets, while the Southeast skews toward church. In fact, Boston had the second greatest disparity between beer tweets and church tweets, behind San Francisco. That seems to correlate with preconceived political and religious notions about those two places, but again there's no real science behind that conclusion.

Basically we drink a lot of beer in Boston, which means I should probably have a lot more readers. Cheers.

Gary Dzen

About 99 Bottles

Gary Dzen writes about craft beer here and in the Globe when he's not covering the Celtics for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.

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