New Documentaries Focus on Brewing Industry

News by | Jun 2015 | Issue #101

The Brew Gentlemen co-founders Matt Katase and Asa Foster in a still from the documentary Blood, Sweat and Beer.

At least a dozen beer documentaries have premiered around the country since early 2014, from regional studies like From Grain to Growler about Virginia, to those like Craft, which examines the industry’s explosion from a national perspective. For many filmmakers, the decision to turn the lens on brewing comes from personal experiences and observations of beer culture.

Filmmakers Chip Haden and Alexis Irvin interviewed 100 breweries around the country before picking two to feature in their documentary Blood, Sweat and Beer, which premiered in March. The 71-minute movie gives a behind-the-scenes look at opening a brewery through an owner battling a trademark lawsuit in Ocean City, Md., and a Braddock, Penn., start-up by three 23-year-old entrepreneurs hoping to revitalize their small town.

“The craft beer culture is often depicted as weird, wacky and fun, however, many of us fail to appreciate the hardships, struggles and sacrifices that go on within the brewery walls,” says Haden. The film aims to go “beyond the pint and into the struggles and successes involved in being a small-business owner in the US.”

Haden attributes the recent surge of documentaries to a similar spirit that brewers and filmmakers share. “We both love to create, to be independent and work for ourselves, and in many cases, to risk everything pursuing our dreams.”

For Brewconomy director Camden Watts, the surge in the brewing industry has increased interest in beer documentaries. “The craft beer industry is ripe with great stories to tell,” says Watts, who interviewed elected officials, beer tourism business owners and people in agriculture to show how drinking local has a direct connection to the economy in North Carolina. “The people in this state are proud and excited about their local craft beer scene, even though this is a story that has played out nationwide,” says Watts.

Look for more documentaries, including Brew Hampshire and Craft: The California Beer Documentary, later this year.