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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Beer Wars

I've been in the beer and wine world for about 3 years. I moved into the world somewhat seamlessly, thanks to the influence of first my sister and brother-in-law, and then my husband. I learned to love craft beer, and am always looking to be in on what is new and exciting and cool--even when it doesn't work. The beer industry is huge, and ever changing. Never has that been more apparent than when I saw "Beer Wars" last night.

"Beer Wars" is an independent movie that I only recently heard about. Through  the joys of conversing with my beer cohorts on Twitter, it became clear that this was something I not only wanted, but needed to see. In a nutshell, it explores the United States beer industry, from convenience store to Capitol Hill, and gives huge insights onto just how the few gigantic beer corporations are being challenged by the smaller, independent brewers.

I know this story, and am obviously (given my line of work) a huge fan of the smaller breweries. I most often, unless at a concert and given no other choice, NEVER drink one of the well-known light lager companies--Anheuser-Busch In Bev or Miller Coors. (I'm not defaming those beers, but I don't drink them or enjoy them.) I hear distributors tell stories weekly about the "other guy" who came in to one of the stores and ripped down signage from the competition, but I never realized just how much goes into that shelf space! I love small production lines at larger breweries and even more, love finding a brewery like Jolly Pumpkin (Michigan) that still runs on a 3-barrel system. I'm friends with home brewers, and hold Extreme Beer Fests for my shop.

In the way that I try as hard as I can to eat locally, sustainably, and organically, I feel that beer should be approached similarly. I champion for the little guy who is producing an insanely hoppy and delicious beer that is sold in a 4-pk for $10 WHOLESALE. And this movie only reconfirmed that sensibility.

What was fascinating was learning just how many "beers" the larger companies have acquired over the last decade or so...I, for one, was shocked. For anyone living in the beer community, or someone who just enjoys great craft brew, I highly recommend seeing this. It may not be the best documentary I've ever seen, but man, it was eye opening.

So while you're drinking your Stella, or Corona, or Leffe, make sure to think where that beer is actually coming from. And if you're lucky enough to have a Dogfish Head or a Lagunitas, a Founders or a Stone in your area, visit often and support your local breweries.

**For more information, visit Who Owns What


  1. I just saw this, too. It was definitely insightful and encouraging to continue supporting the little guy. I'd like to see this film take off because it provides both a look into a different, more diverse world of beer to the average consumer and exposes the ugly side of the corporate beer industry the same average consumer likely never thinks about. Also, Sam Calagione has a pretty rad truck. But yeah, it was a good watch. By the way, read my blog, dangit.

  2. Joe, I so agree. And Jayson and I LOVED Sam's truck. That's hilarious. I'm going to read your blog RIGHT NOW. I'll email.