Now Streaming: "The Beer Jesus From America"

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Nov 21, 2019.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,204) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society Trader


    An American craft brewer on a mission to inspire a craft beer revolution in Germany

    ESCONDIDO, CA (November 21, 2019) – Sweetwood Films and Stone Brewing announce that “The Beer Jesus From America” has made its public debut with streaming now available on Prime Video and Vimeo On Demand. The 104-minute film documents Stone’s often tumultuous journey to becoming the first American independent craft brewery to build, own and operate its own brewery in Europe. “The Beer Jesus From America” was independently produced by director Matt Sweetwood.

    Film Synopsis:

    Stone Brewing's rock ‘n' roll co-founder, Greg Koch, who was nicknamed “Beer Jesus” by a Berlin tabloid newspaper, is taking his business to Germany on a mission to oppose the most beloved industrial beer in the world and join Europe's craft beer revolution. Will he succeed? Greg must first challenge the established beer culture in a country where brewing has been restricted by the infamous 500-year-old beer Purity Law. However, in his quest to fight mass market beer, it turns out that Greg has even bigger obstacles to overcome, from struggles with bureaucracy to cultural differences and stubborn traditionalism.

    Directed by Matt Sweetwood (Beerland, Forgetting Dad), “The Beer Jesus From America” takes us on a journey with Greg as he builds his European craft brewery from scratch in a sleepy corner of Berlin, Germany, where he faces seemingly endless challenges that threaten to end the entire project. Over four years, Matt captures the unexpected twists in a story full of blood, sweat, tears, and beers!

    This is a story not just about the birth of a brewery and the fight against mass market beer, it’s about an inspiring character who understands the importance of sticking to your dreams, no matter how crazy they might seem.

    The film’s title stems from a 2014 article in the German tabloid newspaper, the Berliner Kurier, in which Koch made front page headlines. The newspaper’s cheeky and somewhat cynical article nicknamed him “Der Bier Jesus aus Amerika” and reported on the company’s plans to risk millions building a brewery in Germany. To Sweetwood, the name represents the misperception of who Koch really is, and he set out to tell the full story of the man and the adventure. Koch admits that he is somewhat uncomfortable with the ‘Beer Jesus’ moniker, in addition to many parts of the film, however he enjoys being able to share the story of the historic undertaking and its many challenges.

    “When we set out to build the first American independent Craft Brewery in Europe, we did so with that same spark – that passion and intensity – that drove us to offer something different in the US back in 1996,” explained Koch. “This film captures the trials, challenges, roadblocks… and occasional triumphs of the project, but on a deeper level, it’s a story of following your heart and challenging convention.”

    “The Beer Jesus From America” debuted this week on Prime Video and Vimeo On Demand.

    A commemorative DVD will be available online at in 2020. For just the right beer pairing to complement your viewing, visit

  2. deadwolfbones

    deadwolfbones Initiate (152) Jun 21, 2014 Oregon

  3. pjeagles

    pjeagles Initiate (148) May 29, 2005 New Mexico

    A somewhat unlikable protagonist but I am interested in the process of getting the brewery set up. I work with a couple Siebel graduates who did their internships at German breweries and the stories of trying to get things done there were surprising. Like trying to get broken equipment fixed and the repair people either not showing up or showing up a week after they promised.
  4. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Zealot (578) Mar 19, 2012 California

    Although I haven't met him, I like Greg and what Stone represents as part of the beginnings of craft brewing. However, I don't like what has become of Stone. I won't watch as if I wanted to watch a disaster movie, I wouldn't pick this one...
    chrismattlin likes this.
  5. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Initiate (0) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    What an arrogant bastard:rolling_eyes:
  6. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Defender (649) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Sounds interesting to me, assuming I can handle 104 minutes of The Beer Jesus :rolling_eyes:

    I’ll have to pick up a sixer of stone and watch it.
    ericwo and dcotom like this.
  7. Giantspace

    Giantspace Champion (837) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Good night.

    HorseheadsHophead likes this.
  8. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,616) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
    Society Trader

    Be sure to drink it ahead of time. :wink:
    GetMeAnIPA likes this.
  9. Alefflicted

    Alefflicted Initiate (93) Dec 2, 2017 Minnesota

  10. BadBirdBrewing

    BadBirdBrewing Initiate (0) Jul 8, 2015 California

  11. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,109) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    ////SPOILER ALERT (for those with bad memories)\\\\\\


    *(Sell it to BrewDog...).

    I think that damn tree was the, well...."tree" that broke the camel's back...
  12. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Champion (897) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    Koch should have seen he was doomed when they gave him a nickname of someone known for turning water into wine, not beer....

    Plus he went for the wrong style. Given what happened in WWI and WW2, everyone knows how much German's love a good Belgian "tap takeover".
  13. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Defender (649) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Lol...good idea!
    dcotom likes this.
  14. mhull

    mhull Initiate (109) Apr 11, 2008 Massachusetts


    DISKORD Initiate (0) Feb 28, 2017 South Carolina

    It wouldn't surprise me, if he decides to sell-out at this point.
  16. philhyde

    philhyde Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2010 Oregon

    Enjoyed watching it, and got very thirsty in the process. Thanks!
    GetMeAnIPA, waltari and ericwo like this.
  17. Manfrombelmonty

    Manfrombelmonty Disciple (330) Sep 12, 2010 Massachusetts

  18. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Initiate (0) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    Beat me to it
    Alefflicted likes this.
  19. Hoppedelic

    Hoppedelic Devotee (449) Dec 6, 2010 California
    Society Trader

    You guys are making it seem like this documentary is no good. Should I watch it?
  20. philhyde

    philhyde Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2010 Oregon

    I thought it was good and I feel it's worth a watch. Especially if you like beer.
    thesherrybomber, kuhndog and waltari like this.
  21. Hoppedelic

    Hoppedelic Devotee (449) Dec 6, 2010 California
    Society Trader

    I do like beer. I even like Stone beer, although not much in this post Steele era haha.
  22. drunkenmess

    drunkenmess Savant (924) Mar 27, 2015 Michigan

    He urks me.
    Alefflicted and DISKORD like this.
  23. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Defender (649) Mar 28, 2009 California

    You better shape up.
  24. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Defender (649) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Watched the first 45 minutes. Definitely worth a watch. I’ve enjoyed it so far. After seeing how much time, work and thought went into the brewery I am bummed for Greg and Stone it didn’t work out.
  25. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (1,803) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    Beer Jesus? What a self righteous doofus. Maybe Beer Forrest Gump.
    Alefflicted likes this.
  26. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,109) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    That nickname and the film's title was from a German newspaper's headline, and not meant as a compliment but was "cheeky and cynical" according to the filmmaker in the opening minutes.
  27. philhyde

    philhyde Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2010 Oregon

    He didn't choose it.
    waltari likes this.
  28. islay

    islay Initiate (0) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota

    Yeah, it's definitely an appellation used in jest or even mockery.

    I can't say I enjoyed the documentary. I didn't like the bumpkin character the filmmaker put on as the narrator; I think the film would've benefited from a professional narrator or no narration. And presenting the sale to BrewDog as a mere coda underplayed what could've been a great ending.

    The film initially presents Koch as a proselytizing douchebag, the impression that many commenters in this thread seem to have of him already. But as the film goes on, he becomes more sympathetic, and by the end we look at him as a dreamer who tried to do something big and good and was hampered by the bureaucracy and negligence/incompetence of Berlin and its workers.

    I think Stone picked a terrible venue, structurally unsound, ugly and uninviting even after massive beautification efforts, too large, and in a bad location. And to attempt such a project in a place as hostile to business and development as Berlin was a bad choice (the main takeaway of the movie is don't attempt any major project in Berlin; wasn't planning on it but good to know).

    I do think mainstream German beer culture is little better than mainstream American beer culture with its overreliance on the fizzy and yellow (coupled with an unearned confidence that what it's doing is the best in the world), and Koch correctly identified the existence of room for massive improvement. To be clear, there's some fantastic beer that has been brewed in Germany for centuries, but most actual Germans eschew it in favor of the likes of Beck's and Bitburger, which ultimately are only small steps above the likes of Budweiser and Coors. I find the romantic feelings that some Americans have for German beer culture to be reductive, misguided, and counterproductive, and they're often geared more toward preserving an unrealistic, idealized, quaint vision for vacations and travel show episodes than the interests of local true beer enthusiasts. In the end, however, the costs of attempting to change that culture simply exceeded the legitimate benefits.
  29. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,121) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    a lot of good points here. and yes, for all the folly, greg was correct that there was -- and still is -- a lot of room for improvement in german beer culture. resurrection of barely extant (or even extinct) regional styles and following the model of places like franconia (or munich or koeln or duesseldorf etc) could prove a good start. in the end, though, far (far) too many misjudgments and mistakes and -- it has to be said -- an abundance of hubris doomed this project from the start.
  30. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,121) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    ...ironically, the thing that didn't doom stone's project was an outright rejection of us-style "craft" beer. rather it seems the same type of dynamic at work here that has caused larger regional breweries to lose market share (a preference for truly hyper-local products from smaller places) cut into stone's appeal. plus, it's hard to justify selling a mahrs U for 8 Euro in a relatively inexpensive city (especially when the same beer down the autobahn at the source costs one-third that)....
  31. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,834) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I just got done watching the video and I enjoyed it.

    There are a number of reasons why Stone Berlin was not a financial success but the video spent a considerable period of time discussing the build-out/construction aspect of this project. I have in my work life been an active participant in the development of large scale systems (hundreds of millions & billions of dollar projects constructed over many years). There are always what we term unknown unknowns in projects (e.g., having to handle an asbestos pipe that you had no idea existed when you selected that site, unknown structural defects, etc.).

    Hindsight is always 20/20 but Greg would have been well served if:
    • He brought on 'Sheriff' Randy earlier on in this project
    • Built margin into the schedule to deal with the inevitable multiple unknown unknowns that would occur
    • Instill penalty clauses in the contracts that were made with the multiple subcontractors. Nothing gets a subcontractor more motivated than knowing they will be penalized for not meeting schedule, etc.
    • Etc.
    I seriously doubt that Stone Brewing Company will ever take on a project akin to Stone Berlin in the future but if they do there are plenty of lessons learned from this venture.

    Does anybody know how well BrewDog Berlin is doing as a business?


    P.S. There is an old saying in the project development world: "There is never enough money (and time) to get the job done but there is always enough money (and time) to 'fix' it."
  32. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (483) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

    Just watched it, really enjoyed it. Worthwhile watch, it was well done.
    thesherrybomber and waltari like this.
  33. Singlefinpin

    Singlefinpin Savant (905) Jul 17, 2018 North Carolina

    Spoiler Alert????
    philhyde likes this.
  34. Singlefinpin

    Singlefinpin Savant (905) Jul 17, 2018 North Carolina

    Interesting take on German beer culture.
    Having never been there my self.
    It seems as always to start small is the best idea in new beer business.
    I wonder if taking on some of the, "fantastic beer brewed for centuries,"
    would have been the better business model in Germany?
  35. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Defender (649) Mar 28, 2009 California

    For sure. Usually opening a brewery in a different country is usually fast and cheap.

    But seeing it on film and first hand puts some perspective on it.
  36. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,109) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    DISKORD, redeemer, GuyFawkes and 2 others like this.
  37. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,121) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    spoiler alert on the berlin construction industry and its foibles: the "new" airport -- started in 2006 -- is finally slated to october
    chrismattlin likes this.
  38. Singlefinpin

    Singlefinpin Savant (905) Jul 17, 2018 North Carolina

  39. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,086) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    i was 16 years old in 1967 and my Dad and I drank one more than a few Lowenbraus from Munich.
  40. RKP1967

    RKP1967 Aspirant (289) Sep 26, 2010 Virginia

    I like him.