Before watching the Beer Wars Movie, I picked up Jeff Ramberg and we met up with Scott Johnson and his wife at Stoney’s British Pub on Rt. 202. The Johnsons were having dinner, but Jeff and I just had beer. Soon Jerry Carney joined us.
At a quarter til eight, we left for the show. We arrived at the theater with minutes to spare and rode two flights of escalators to the main section. The theater was filled, but we easily found an empty row of seats.
The show started with a live feed from Director Anat Baron in an LA theater, I believe. She introduced the documentary live and had some trouble reading her script, but managed to get through it quickly enough.
The documentary itself was very good. Sam Calagione of Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery, was one of the stars of the show, as well as Greg Koch from Stone Brewing and Rhonda Kallman of New Century Brewing. The crowd in the theater quickly applauded as Sam was introduced. Being the closest theater to Dogfish, there seemed to be a large number of fans and probably employees of the brewery on hand. Later I noticed a bus in the parking lot which must have been for the folks coming up from down state where the brewery is. That had to have been a great trip! LOL!
The rest of the movie was very informative describing the grip that the big brewers have over the beer industry. Beer advertising, distribution and government lobbies were highlighted.
There was a funny scene with a blind taste test for uninformed American beer drinkers who were asked to choose their favorite between a sample of Bud Lite, Miller Lite and Coors Lite. There were nothing but wrong guesses! These people were clueless about the beer they drink. They are truly Bud drinking zombie drones! LOL!
At times the film seemed like an infomercial for Sam Calagione and Dogfish Head. Fortunately, Sam was entertaining and seemed very comfortable in front of a camera. There were lots of shots of the Dogfish brewery as well as some in Sam’s home.
The other infomercial-type exposure was for Rhonda Kallman of New Century Brewing who was hawking her Moonshot brand of beer spiked with 69 mgs of caffeine. Kallman was portrayed as a tough businesswoman and beer entrepreneur. I cannot comment on her beer, because I have never had it. One thing noticeable was while the rest of the film highlighted the importance of ‘taste’ in beer, I don’t think Rhonda Kallman once described the taste of Moonshot beer. All the talk was about the uniqueness of the caffeine, her efforts to launch the brand and her battle with the big brewers to distribute it. I will have to try it to see how it actually tastes.
Director Anat Baron had a lot of screen time narrating the film. Her background as general manager at Mike’s Hard Lemonade, gave her a unique perspective in the alcoholic beverage industry. I about choked when she referred to Mike’s Hard Lemonade as part of the “beer” industry, though! LOL! One of the funniest parts of the film was when in a hotel lobby, she tried to interview August Busch IV, president and CEO of Anheuser-Busch. Anat told him she was doing a documentary film about the beer industry and Busch asked her to send him her card, as he brushed past her. LOL!
Charlie Papazian, homebrewing guru and President of the Brewers Association, was also a delight. I still have his book, the Complete Joy of Homebrewing, which I bought when I first started brewing almost 20 years ago.
After the documentary, which ran for about an hour and a half, Ben Stein moderated a discussion panel with several of the prominent contributors of the film. One of the most notable exchanges was Stein’s questioning Greg Koch’s choice in name for Arrogant Bastard Ale. Also, Sam described the story behind a beer he temporarily named Golden Showers Ale. LOL!
After the end of the show, we ventured back to Stoney’s for one last brew. John Cook, who we met at the theater, could not join us as he had to get to work early the next morning. Overall, it was a great event, both educational and entertaining.