Friday, April 17, 2009

Beer Wars: The Movie

Did everyone hear about Beer Wars that Ben Stein backed? I didn't find out about it until a couple weeks ago, but it played last night and I got a good group to go with. So it only played once simultaneously across America so that they could do live interviews at the end of the movie. It was a production that started in 2005 and finally finished 4 years later. I thought it was a very good documentary. It got off to a slow start but essentially the meat of the story was following around Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head) and Rhonda Kallman (Moonshot). The whole premise was just ripping on BudMillerCoors and the politics of the industry. But they did that through the eyes of these two small and medium-sized breweries. I found out that Sam is awesome. I am pretty sure he was Ted in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Ha ha. You should hear is 90's-tastic surfer accent. Side topic: Bring Dogfish Head to Missouri group on facebook from Bull. Rhonda represented the small brewery struggling to survive. She got an ear full from the craft brewers and from beer advocate, but she is trying to make a caffeinated party beer. Anyway, it was very interesting perspectives. The movie was focused more on the marketing and politics as opposed to making the beer or tasting it.
Here is a picture of Sam and Rhonda:
So before the movie we hit up Granite City. I found out they brew the beer in Davenport then ship in the wort to the stores and pitch the yeast there. I was talking to the brew master from Amerisports and he was kind of joking about how they just put up the pretty fermenters. Anyhow, the beers are still better than watery beer.
After the movie we hit up O'Dowds at Zona Rosa. To my surprise Bob Reeder was there busting out all his dirty limericks. Yes! Few more beers and it was quite the Thursday night. Also I did notice that as everyone from Granite City was getting off work (including the bartender) they were heading over to O'Dowds. Funny stuff.
Did anyone else see the movie? What did you think?


Jared said...

I haven't seen it, but it seems beer bloggers can't stop talking about it. It seems to have started a whole new round of BMC is evil talk even though Stone and Dogfishhead (two of the guys) are succesful and manage to distribute across the US. I guess one good thing is it got me to take a look at the 3 tier system more closely. In fact I just wrote part one of a post on it. Talk about a nightmare of a system.

Also isn't the lady who made the movie one of the people from Mikes Hard Lemonade? She diffinatly wouldn't be my first choice to make a movie about craft beer. That and I hear her style is more Micheal More then it is factual.

Sorry, didn't plan on complaining about a movie I haven't seen today :P

KC Hop Head said...

Yeah a lot of people got worked up and I've heard some people say they won't buy anything BMC after seeing that. I'm not completely against them. You still need cheap party beers! Yes I think Anat (the lady who made the movie) is not a craft brew person, but she focused more on craft vs BMC as far as marketing and not really what goes in the beer.

Anonymous said...

The movie was very interesting. The best parts were when they followed Sam from Dogfish and his story. The things that really surprised me were how many beers AB owns and the percentage of shelf space they control at the average liquor store/supermarket. If you vow never to drink any BMC products again, good luck, you may not even realize they own the beer. Anyway, I will continue doing what I can to support the craft beer industry.

Jared said...

I have a question for you guys then, How did they define a beer owned by AB? There's a brewery here in Oregon that was founded by the Widmer Brothers, but AB owns a certain stake in the company. Widmer did this to get access to AB's distributors, but AB has no control over the company or product. Many people, even locals, have accused Widmer of being an AB product and a sellout because of this. From where I stand though it was just a smart business move.

KC Hop Head said...

They didn't really go into that detail in the movie. They talked about how AB was trying to get Dogfish for copywriting "Punkin' Ale" because it was "too generic". Sam said that they'd lawyer the hell out of him. But you're right it was a good move my Widmer and I've still yet to have some. Even though they are with the distributor it's hard to find around here.

niranjan said...

Well I thought the movie was quite interesting. It definitely had the cliche going for it, pitting the David against the Goliaths and all.. but I learned a whole lot about the beer industry I did not know before, like the whole three tier distribution thing. The panel interview after the movie was even more entertaining! You could clearly see Ben Stein was not interested in "beer" but just getting his wit to show! He did a good job of getting the craft beer advocates to respond to the excellent question that the intellectual of the group proposed "Meet me in 10 years..(and will you forego profits for taste?)". At the rate that they are expanding.. it is not far fetched to extrapolate that they aspire to be as big and customer focused as BMC.. they can claim that they prefer "taste" over profits.. but how long will that hold up?????