The Principals: Anat Baron (writer/producer/director). Starring Anat Baron, Sam Calagione, Rhona Kallman, and lots and lots of beer.
Premise: MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch are corporate juggernauts that control nearly all of the beer sold in this country, and this documentary is about the little craft breweries that are terrifying these giants. It examines the history of beer, the current ongoing war for shelf space in supermarkets and the tactics both sides are taking to survive.
It’s a must for any beer drinker.
Good: It is. Writer/director producer Anat Baron is the woman who made Mike’s Hard Lemonade (brew of choice for underage drinkers!) such a recognizable brand, despite being allergic to alcohol herself. A more horrible affliction, I can’t imagine. But she uses her connections to get interviews with some of the massively entertaining folks behind some of the best homebrews around, such as Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head, Jim Koch from Boston Beer Company and Greg Koch from Stone- as well as interviews with the corporate drones from the big companies, who are just as bland as you’d expect. It’s a slick and well-made doc whose only stumbling point are the infrequent bits that focus too much on Baron and her animated (and oddly youthful) character that break up the flow of the film. As someone who knows all the key players in this war her input is greatly appreciated but occasionally it makes the mistake of focusing too much on her.
it Worth a Look: Absolutely. It’s entertaining and informative, and will completely influence your buying decisions in the future.
It’s never a good idea to get a chimp drunk. TRUST ME.
It’s got lots of funny moments, like watching people try to pick their
favorite light beers from a taste test and failing miserably, proof of
how tasteless and bland all of the major beers are. It’s what happens
when you stick more money in marketing than flavor. You’ll learn how beers get to stores, how small the little guys really are (Sam Adams, the largest craft brewer, holds a mere 1% of the market!) and how much passion and love gets put into these beers.
You’ll also hear about all the typically scummy tactics the giants have taken to getting back their market share from the people edging in on it, like how Annheiser Busch started brewing their own Rolling Rock after picking up the brand (they only wanted the name), or how they started putting out craft beers under a different name (Green Valley) to edge in on the craft beer market. Lawsuits and strong arm tactics abound and it’s yet another clear cut David and Goliath case here, where you’ll likely be on the side of the people that make unique, great-tasting beverages rather than silly commercials.
Random Anecdotes: As someone who was already becoming more aware about my beer selections, this movie pushed me over the top. At the time when I’m the poorest I’ve ever been in my life my beers have become the most expensive and that’s for a simple reason- when I drink beer, I like to taste it. Amazing concept, that!
I’ve started dabbling in homebrewing and going to tastings and am utterly amazed at the amount of varieties and flavors you can find out there if you just look for it. I’m not going to say I’ll never drink another Coors Light again (hey, sometimes you’ll take whatever you can get) but like my interests in films and games I’m making it my quest to explore as much as I can.
Soulmates: Beerfest, Strange Brew, Animal House,
The Fatal Glass of Beer.
Tally So Far: