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What’s in a name?

As we get ready for Memorial Day weekend, the first beer drinking holiday of summer, some food for thought for craft beer brewers and drinkers.

On Tuesday, an article in The Atlantic entitled “When Is A Craft Brewery Just a Brewery?” asked some interesting questions. The one that piqued my interest was about big brewers cashing in on the craft beer “movement” and its continued growth.
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Time flies when…

Today is the one-year anniversary of Beer Wars Live! A year ago, a distinguished panel including Charlie Papazian, Sam Calagione, Greg Koch, Ronda Kallman, Todd Alstrom and Maureen Ogle convened together with an audience of 800 at Royce Hall on the UCLA Campus in Los Angeles to broadcast the film and panel discussion live via satellite to 440 theatres nationwide.

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Hitting a Nerve

Now that the film is out there and easily available, it’s nice to hear from folks who happen to come across it on cable, satellite, iTunes, Amazon or Netflix. I love that the message is being heard and that people find the film entertaining and also eye opening. I just found out that a member of the Busch family watched it on demand and recommended it to friends.

Thought I’d share a few of the thousands of comments I’ve received:
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Comments Off on Food for Thought

Food for Thought

2 threads I’ve been following this week:

The first is Less is More? Are There Too Many Beers? which was started by World Class Beverage in Indiana following an insider discussion at a recent beer industry summit. The comments are fascinating. I’m thrilled that this discussion is going on although I wish it would expand beyond talk into action, especially as it pertains to franchise laws and self distribution. I’m not for dismantling the three tier system, just updating it for today’s environment. Online shipping anyone?

The other thread is on a Beer Advocate Forum entitled The realities of small guys vs. big guys. This thread also highlights the ongoing issues inherent in the present distribution system. Again, great cross section of opinions. Nice that distributors are jumping into the conversation.

Oh, and if you’re interested in the politics of beer, you may want to read Beer Business Daily’s Complete Coverage of Congressional Hearing on Alcohol.

Please feel free to continue the discussion here by adding your comments.


An Appeal to America’s Independent Brewers

From the Filmmaker behind Beer Wars

As a response to my CALL TO ACTION asking folks to spread the word about the recent availability of Beer Wars, I received this reply from Daniel Curran from Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company:

$400,000 / 1,600 craft breweries in the US = $250 per brewery. My brewery will send you $500 because we know Beer Wars had contributed to at least that much in additional revenue. In return – I want to be able to give a copy to every single person that I meet. At every summer event, at every brewers festival, at every bar and restaurant our beers are on tap. Who is in? How do we organize it?

Just so I am clear – why WOULDN’T each and every craft brewery in the US donate? Yes money is tight for all of us – but $250 / $300 is very reasonable. Breweries could raise that from their fan base in no time. Hell, we could finance your next film. The key in my opinion is the ability to get a copy in everyone’s hands I meet.

Wow! This was completely unexpected. And it got me thinking. Other than a few breweries like Stone, The Bruery, and 21st Amendment who have supported the film by buying DVDs and hosting screenings, where are the other breweries? Why am I not hearing from them?
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Why Beer Wars Matters

OK, this may seem self-serving coming from me but before you judge, please read on for at least another paragraph or two. Obviously Beer Wars matters to me. After all, I invested 3 years of my life making the film and another year securing distribution and promoting it. And as many of you know, I don’t (can’t) drink beer because of my alcohol allergy. I made this movie because I believe in its bigger message –consumer choice. (If you want to skip to the “call to action” then click here.)

And speaking of choice, Beer Wars is now available to virtually everyone with a TV or computer through several distribution deals with major media companies who obviously think the film has merit. So let’s take a minute to celebrate that. Woo hoo! After all, distribution (like in the beer business) is step one. After all if it’s not available, people can’t buy it.

The bigger issue is AWARENESS. It’s one thing to have the movie available along with hundreds of well-known movies (on cable and satellite on demand) or among thousands of films (on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix) but it’s another for people to actually buy or rent it. Just like in beer, the “shelf” is dominated with big names. Sure it’s easier to engage viewers on Netflix because people see it as “free” with their membership. But getting people to plop down $3.99 on a film they’ve never heard of, well that’s something else entirely. Read the rest of this entry »


Happy Valentine’s Day

I received the most amazing Valentine. A friend sent me the link to IMDb’s Most Popular Documentaries and there was Beer Wars, right below the king of pop. Pretty cool for this independent film with no marketing budget, celebrity or Oscar nod.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the film. Please continue to spread the word.

IMDb Most Popular Documentaries


Promoting the Film

Here’s a clip from Monday’s Satellite Media Tour with Seattle Fox TV Channel 13:


The BIG News

No more teasing. Here it is. Starting tomorrow, February 1st, Beer Wars will be available to rent or buy to anyone in the US and Canada who has a TV or computer (or gaming console). So finally the movie will be widely available to a mainstream audience. Woo hoo!

The cool thing about all this is that it was made possible through distribution deals with Warner Bros. and Netflix. That’s right, these folks who know a thing or two about the film business, have chosen Beer Wars as part of their offering. After the long road it took to get here, this is a happy day indeed not just for me but for all the people who can now get to watch it.

So where will the movie be available?

In the U.S., Beer Wars is available to rent On Demand through Digital Cable and Satellite providers Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Cablevision, Charter, Insight, Bresnan, Verizon FiOS, AT & T U-Verse, Dish Network and DirecTV. It is also available for download on iTunes, Amazon Video On Demand, Xbox 360 and PS3.

In Canada, the film is available to rent On Demand through Digital Cable and Satellite providers Rogers Cable, Cogeco, Videotron, Sasktel and Shaw.

The film will also be available through Netflix either through streaming or DVD. And you’ll be able to buy the DVD from Amazon.

If you live outside the US, you can buy the DVD here.

Here’s one of the spots that will be running on select on demand preview channels:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.
What do you think this launch means for craft beer?

The Countdown is On

I’ve been working like crazy on getting the film seen by a mainstream audience. I’m happy to say that February 1st is the launch date. Big announcement to come at the end of the week. And then I will spill all!

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