Beer DVD reviews


Today, I watched “Beer Wars” and “The American Brew” back to back. I think that they both have their strong points but American Brew wins my Beer Oscar.

The American Brew is way too short (in a good way) and I really enjoyed the clips left on the cutting room floor. It shows the basics of making beer along with a brief history of beer in America. And it has great commentators including Daniel Okrent, Charlie Papazian, Fritz Maytag and Dick Cantwell among others. It has a specific aim and it hits it straight on. Since, I love educating people about beer and its turbulent history in America, this is a great tool to use.

Beer Wars on the other hand has a major beer flaw in it, though it is not a dramatic flaw. The focus is on Sam Calagione from the wonderful Dogfish Head and on the creator of Moonshot Caffeine Beer and Edison Light, Rhonda Kallman. To a lesser extent it is a screed against the three-tiered distribution system and the dominance of ABINBEV / SABMILLERCOORS.

Both Sam and Rhonda have wonderful entrepreneurial spirit. But Sam understands that he is a brewer first and second and third and a salesman fourth. Rhonda is all sales all the time and that hurts her. She becomes a product not a craft. I totally understand why the beer community is so mixed on this movie. On one hand it celebrates creative beer and then extols the wonders of marketed beer. It is good drama but not good beer.