Last night I spent the evening with my wife in Framingham MA attending the well talked about Beer Wars Movie. And to be honest...I'm still not sure how I feel about it. To answer the questions I posted about yesterday, Yes...I was entertained and No, I didn't learn anything new. So, if you're still planning on going to see the movie and would hate to know all about the movie before you saw it (Leah and Luke are brother and sister....wait, wrong wars) then don't read on.
The start of the movie was, to say the least, rough. I felt like I was watching a track meet and someone tripped when the gun went off. Not good. Anat Baron (Filmmaker) struggled in the opening of the the movie, which was live. Whoever was holding her cue cards probably got fired today.....and we'll leave it at that. I guess that's what you get with live production.
Once the movie actually started rolling, things went a little better. The beginning of the movie went through Anat's background working in the "beer" industry. Ahem....she worked for Mikes Hard lemonade....not quite beer, but a malternative none the less. Oh, and she is allergic to alcohol so she can't drink it. Now, I am in no way saying she's not allergic to alcohol, but to make a movie about beer....hype the crap out of it....then admit you don't drink beer seems a little hypocritical! To quote a good friend....."that's like me making a movie about dresses". It just doesn't work, and my attitude toward the movie quickly shifted to "damn, I just wasted $32 on this movie....should I make my wife stay through it all?"
She then proceeded start us through a journey of beer giving the history of beer in America and transitioned into the big 3 brewers and how they got to be so big. The rest of the movie jumped around from topic to topic, starting with Sam Calagione. She highlighted his/Dogfish Heads rise to Cult status and talked about the expansion to there brewery. The other interview subject was Rhonda Kallman, founder and CEO of New Century Brewing Co. Rhonda also happens to be the co-founder of Boston Beer Co, the makers Sam Adams. New Century is launching a new beer called Moonshot, which is a light beer made with Caffeine in it. This was probably the most interesting part of the movie personally because it highlighted the struggle that start -up craft brewers have to face with the big 3 pushing you off the shelf in stores.
The rest of the movie seemed more like a clip from a Michael Moore film. It showed clips of here trying to track down (stalk) August Busch IV. Then clips of Anat in DC discussing the Beer Lobby and the 3 tier distribution system. I started to get excited that I might learn something about the 3 tier system, but nothing. No more than 15 seconds were spent trying to explain the system, or why the lobbyist are fighting to keep it in place so hard.
Then......it was over! Time for the live panel moderated by Ben Stein. The panel consisted of Charlie Papazian (AHA), Greg Koch (Stone), Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head), Rhonda Kallman (New Century), Maureen Ogle (Author, "Ambitious Brew"), Todd Alstrom (Beer Advocate) and Anat, and man was it awkward. Some of the questions Ben asked made it seem like he didn't watch the movie. I forget the exact wording of the question, but it was the second one he asked and the movie had touched on the same question and Greg Koch answered it in the movie.......STEIN.........STEIN.........STEIN?
All in all, I kind of wish I had waited for it to come out on DVD or better yet....You tube! I know Anat had good intentions of showing how the Big 3 are trying to push the Craft Brewers around, but it fell short of the target. Some segments should have gone deeper, some shouldn't have gone at all, but I can say I was entertained!! I'm looking forward to hearing how others felt about it. I'm sure there will be TON'S of posts on blog around the country!!