The Long and Winding Road

Today marks the 3-year anniversary of Beer Wars Live – the one night only event that premiered the film in 450 theatres across the U.S.

I still get asked about a follow up film or a sequel. I don’t think that folks understand what it takes to produce and distribute a feature film. Just because everyone has a digital camera these days doesn’t mean that they’re making a feature-length movie. That millions of people will see. And so, if you haven’t realized from my tone, there will not be another film. It takes too long. Costs too much. And in the end, viewers want content for free. So, for me the economics just don’t add up.

I had a story to tell. I told it in the best way I knew how. It’s a documentary so you can’t just make shit up and manipulate the facts. I got criticized for my choice of protagonists – Sam and Rhonda. Sam was too likeable; Rhonda wasn’t a real brewer… But I continue to stand by my choices.

Like him or not, Sam is a star. Not because of his looks but because his passion and skill helped him not only grow his business, get a TV show but also give back to his community by becoming Chair of the Brewers Association board of directors.

And Rhonda? Well, in hindsight Moonshot may have been an ill-conceived idea but she is a classic entrepreneur. She took her big success at Boston Beer and did the one thing most people are afraid to do – she tried something new. And she failed. And I bet you that we haven’t heard the last from Rhonda.

Feature films tell big stories. About big personalities. In the 3 years since the film was released, hundreds of web shows about beer and brewing have appeared. Something for everyone. But they mostly talk about the beer (which I’m allergic to). I wanted to focus on the business and show how it impacts 2 different entrepreneurial dreams.

But what about the business? I mean, there are over 2,000 breweries in the US. Craft beer is “hot.” It’s in the mainstream media. Celebrities drink it. There are beer blogs and apps galore.

But has the business really changed? Well, the big 2 are still the big 2 with close to 80% share of the market. The imports are hanging in there and yes, there is more craft beer being sold. But it’s off a small base.

Have things improved for craft brewers? Yes, especially for the national and regional brewers who are on an expansion frenzy. Is there still a long way to go in changing the “system?” You betcha!
I think that’s the sequel and another filmmaker should pick up the baton from here.

3 Responses to “The Long and Winding Road”

  1. Doug B. says:

    Anat, I’ll always consider BEER WARS to be one of the most wonderfully subversive and long-lasting projects I’ve ever been a part of…it literally comes up constantly with people I talk to, coast to coast, and has been seen by more people than either of us will ever know. You really did start a fire (with more than just money burning!) and no matter the future sequels or shows…it’s an original that no one but you could have made. Kudos then, now and onward!

    Yr. pal,

  2. Craig says:

    Three years later… I still love the film… I loved it the night that I watched it on Fathom Events at my local theater (that served some great craft brews during the event) and I love it today when I pop it in the DVD player (or watch it on Netflix) a few times a year!
    No matter what people say, I think that Sam and Rhonda were good choices to show the beer business… Sam was/is building this grassroots rock star like following with his company and Rhonda wanted to build a sellable beer company that she could have a larger brewery buy from her in the long term. They were both great choices, no only to show us how a brewery is conceived and built (both physically and marketing), but to understand how beer drinking react to those products…
    I don’t think that there should be a sequel… to do so, there would have to be endless sequels… the beer world is growing and changing too fast these days for anyone to keep up.
    But I want to thank you for 2 things… for helping to open beer drinkers eyes to some of the “products” that are made by In-bev and Coors to look like and try to steal the Craft Beer market. Also for starting a beer film revolution… I think that some have seen with you success a market to make these documentary films about breweries, beer, and the culture in general! They are all awesome in their own ways… and show that the beer community is not a bunch of big bellied slobs but an awesomely artistic group of people!
    The only think that, as a fan, I would love to see if some of that “Lost Beer Wars Footage!!!” Those interviews, on locations, and more that didn’t make the final cut, but us Beer Geeks would love to watch!
    Anyway… Thanks…. Thanks for the movie, ideas and information!


  3. Ken says:

    I can’t say I’m sorry to see Rhonda Kallman throwing in the towel on her caffeinated bee, though I wish her only the best in the future. It did seem like a bit of a gimmick to me, because she wasn’t saying the caffeine made the beer taste better (whereas coffee in a stout definitely affects the taste). Rather, she claimed there was a “need” in the market for it… which there isn’t. Branders create “need.” And while I liked her in the film (which I loved), by the end, I think she was treated too sympathetically– as if she were traveling all over, alone, working all those hours, trying to get a patent on a life-saving drug! I mean really– we’re talking about alcohol and caffeine, two things that are not exactly healthy for us.

Oenophiles have SIDEWAYS and BOTTLE SHOCK; now their beer-loving counterparts can claim a film as their own.
- Rotten Tomatoes
A David and Goliath story pitting the country's smallest brewers against the largest.
Beer Wars: Brewed in America, is an eye-opening, funny and righteously infuriating documentary by first-time filmmaker Anat Baron. Her film (think of it as Suds: A Love Story) is also a pretty damning indictment of not just the beer industry but contemporary unfettered unregulated capitalism's disturbing excesses.
- Box Office Magazine
In Beer Wars, entrepreneurialism and opportunity go awry when tainted by greed and a thirst for power.
- Los Angeles Times
Beer Wars certainly raises some interesting questions, the most potent of which is, is this what capitalism is meant to be?
- New Times
For those who are keeping the American dream alive, this spirited documentary raises a toast.
- St Louis Post-Dispatch
A trenchant analysis unapologetic in its rebuke of Big Beer, Beer Wars is heartily recommended for patrons already inclined to opt for the local brew at every tap. It will also appeal to patrons interested in craft foods as well as homebrewed beer and wine and others particular about quality.
- Library Journal