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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Alcohol Consumption & Your Heart

What is the latest on beer, wine and your heart?

The bottom line regarding alcohol is that it may have heart and other health benefits when consumed in moderation.

How does the medical community define moderation? According to the Mayo Clinic website, moderate drinking is defined as two drinks a day if you're a male 65 and younger, or one drink a day if you're a female or a male 66 and older. A drink is defined as 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer, 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof distilled spirits. While most of the experts agree that moderate consumption may have benefits they clearly to not recommend anyone begins drinking alcohol to treat or prevent diseases.

Benefits often associated with moderate alcohol include:

  • Reduce your risk of developing heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and intermittent claudication
  • Reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack
  • Possibly reduce your risk of strokes, particularly ischemic strokes
  • Lower your risk of gallstones
  • Possibly reduce your risk of diabetes

Red wine may not be alone in its benefits. According to UC Davis beer is beneficial.

The ancient Egyptians found a number of uses for beer as a mouthwash, an enema and a wound healer. While not necessarily endorsing these medicinal applications, UC Davis brewing scientist Charles Bamforth suggests that beer may possess many nutritional qualities that make the beverage part of an overall healthy and balanced diet.

"It appears that beer is at least on par with wine in terms of potential health benefits," says Bamforth, who published a review article on the nutritional qualities of beer in the January-February issue of the online scientific journal Nutrition Research

So, you can enjoy that beer or glass of wine guilt free.