Beer Wars Movie Review

8 Sep

watch this, not the image, the movie.

Ultimately, this documentary brings up good points about beer in America, however, I have my criticisms.  Who am I to criticisize?  No one: just some guy who likes to brew, drink, buy beer, has made and been a part of documentaries and watches a good deal of them.  Do not get me wrong, as I am no authority on this and I do not claim to be.  Take what I say with a grain of salt.

Let’s start with the pros: the major problem in the pursuit of good beer in this country and the major focus of this film is Anheuser Busch.  This corporate giant is responsible for over 50% of all beer consumed in the United States and due to marketing and advertising strategies aims to dominate this market in every single way.  The other major problem this film hits upon is the issue of the odd relationship between brewer>distributor>customer.  Basically, a brewer is not allowed to sell beer straight to consumers, it has to be given to a distributor.  A real fact for this country is that Anheuser Busch, Miller and Coors own most distributors. In order for a craft brewer to get their product to consumers they must hitch a ride aboard one of the big three’s trucks.  These are two real problems and kudos to Anat Baron for bringing them to someone’s attention.

My main criticism is that the film seemed less focused than I wanted it to be.  Generally speaking I think the film took on too much.  This topic is incredibly large and, to be honest, based on the title of this movie the documentary could have been about any number of things.  Instead, it was a conglomerate of all of those potential ideas for a film which hit upon a few key ideas.  Because of this buckshot main idea the film is not terribly exciting:  my first attempt to get through it resulted in a nap.  (In the movie’s defense I started to watch it already being quite tired.)

I found some of the side stories touched upon in the film to be of more interest.  For example: the blind taste test in which loyal customers of the big three breweries could not identify their ‘favorite’ beer; the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery, Sam Calgione, discussing his struggles and triumphs of opening and maintaining his business; or Rhonda Kallman’s struggles of getting her newest beer, Moonshot, off the ground.

This is a movie worth watching.  I think that I was expecting something different and I cannot really fault the film for my misinformed preconceptions.

Watch the movie.  (Beer Wars)  You decide, and tell me what you think.


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