Craft Beer and Food

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Beer Wars - Movie Review

“Director Anat Baron takes you on a no holds barred exploration of the U.S. beer industry that ultimately reveals the truth behind the label of your favorite beer. Told from an insider’s perspective, the film goes behind the scenes of the daily battles and all out wars that dominate one of America’s favorite industries.”

Available on DVD and On-Demand

As the average “Jane Doe” consumer who prefers a handcrafted beer, I never realized how complicated it is for a small craft beer maker to get his product to market and the ongoing struggle against the goliaths of beer, Anheuser-Busch and Coors/Miller. “Beer Wars” focuses on two relatively new breweries showing how exciting and difficult these ventures are even for seasoned entrepreneurs.

The movie did a good job of explaining the history of the American beer industry over the past century and the amount of power Coors, Miller and Anheuser-Busch have over the government and the American consumer. It explained why the regional breweries disappeared in the 70’s. But it left me confused as to the beer distribution system.

If I got it straight, beer cannot be sold directly from the brewery to the consumer. By law, it has to go through a distributor, unlike wine that can be shipped from the winery to the customer.
But it appears breweries can sell directly to stores, bars and restaurants. I can go to my local brewery or brew pub and buy onsite in the form of pints, tastings, growlers, bottles and kegs. Why? They just cannot ship beer?!

The filmmaker said that there is a “3 Tier System” she compared to the government and the whole idea of the separation of powers to keep the system in check. Maybe I missed something, but did not understand this aspect of the film. I do not pretend to be an expert on beer or the industry, so a more in-depth explanation would have left me feeling the movie satisfied my immediate expectations of what I wanted to take away from the viewing.

It is definitely worth checking out. You will like this film if you have any interest in craft beer, like independent films and documentaries or feel America is being run by big corporations and the little guy doesn’t have much of a chance.


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