23 Feb 2010 @ 9:00 AM 

Not long ago, in a private conversation about what makes a Classic American Pilsner different than a Standard American Lager, I was accused of getting caught up inside the box of style guidelines. While everything was civil I thought it would be a very interesting topic of discussion, so I present it to you here.

The thing is, he’s right. I DO get caught up in the details of style guidelines. It’s probably the years I’ve spent doing database management that makes me like to see things neatly filed into their own little boxes. Of course, if that were entirely true perhaps my desk, office, and closet wouldn’t be such an enormous disaster area. I would probably have things neatly filed away and labeled in really clear ways: “Non-pink-and-scoogy paperclips.” “T-shirts that still fit me.” and “Pants without holes in the crotch.” That kind of thing. And I don’t. Getting dressed in the morning or reaching into any one of my desk drawers is still a game of Russian Roulette that my co-workers have to pay for on a regular basis.

So, if I can’t figure out where my pants are, why should I get so caught up in Style Guidelines? They’re moving targets, at best. Just this weekend I was discussing with a friend where his beer might fit within BJCP style guidelines for an upcoming homebrew competition. Fact is, it could really fit into a few of them given the width of ranges of most of the style definitions.

Here, take a look at these stats which I have cut and pasted directly from the BCJP site:

OG: 1.056 – 1.075
FG: 1.010 – 1.018
IBUs: 40 – 70
SRM: 6 – 15
ABV: 5.5 – 7.5%

OG: 1.050 – 1.075
FG: 1.010 – 1.018
IBUs: 40 – 60
SRM: 8 – 14
ABV: 5 – 7.5%

Just off the top of your head, which one of these is English IPA and which one is American IPA? The primary difference between the styles is where the hops are grown. From a technical standpoint, it’s also when the hops are added. It’s not like one is a lot stronger than the other or more bitter or significantly different looking or anything, or even different in strength.

As an aside, my favorite one to do this with is Saison and Oatmeal Stout:

OG: 1.048 – 1.065
FG: 1.010 – 1.018
IBUs: 25 – 40
ABV: 4.2 – 5.9%

OG: 1.048 – 1.065
FG: 1.002 – 1.012
IBUs: 20 – 35
ABV: 5 – 7%

(I’ll hold the color measurements and let you decide on your own.)

Now, obviously I’m over-simplifying this. The numbers don’t do any sort of justice for what’s really in the style descriptions. Which are things like:

Color may range from rich gold to very dark amber or even dark brown.


High fruitiness with low to moderate hop aroma and moderate to no herb, spice and alcohol aroma. … A low to medium-high spicy or floral hop aroma is usually present.

(I like the “low to moderate hop aroma” followed by “low to medium-high spicy or floral hop aroma” – so low-to-medium that they had to say it twice!)

Barleywine and saison, if you’re wondering.

My point is not that the style guidelines are weird or wrong or too wide or anything like that. If anything, I think they speak volumes to the wonderful variety that is present in beer and what makes it such a superior beverage, especially when paired with food.

No, my point is that getting stuck into style guidelines is:

1) Difficult, since the style guidelines range so widely.
2) Easy, because style guidelines range so widely.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little bit of an asshole, too.

Here’s the deal: The guidelines overlap like CRAZY. I have a chart that I built of all the numbers for all the styles and most of them are practically identical. If you put together all of the “low-to-medium-high” flavor descriptions it’s almost ludicrous how much they sound alike. But I’m here to say that style definitions – and getting stuck in them – serve a huge purpose in craft beer:

They manage your expectations.

Look, the casual drinker on the street doesn’t know or care about BJCP, World Beer Cup, or BA style definitions. They care about being able to pick up something in the store and being able to reliably identify what’s in the package. You want to know why BMC is so popular? Well, go back to the beginning of this paragraph and start over again. Craft beer can learn a lot from this.

So, yeah, I’m stuck in style guidelines. That’s not to say that I don’t do something wildly different every once in a while – I made my own Black IPA recipe up before people started clamoring for this whole “Cascadian Dark” style. I regularly play outside of style guidelines. I love playing with non-traditional ingredients. There’s no other way to move forward than to experiment, play, and indulge in creativity. In fact, that might be the single most important characteristic of the craft beer industry: creativity.

(Honestly? I can’t get behind “Cascadian Dark”. Yes, Black India Pale Ale sounds stupid. But “Cascadian Dark” has the following problems: 1) It suggests Cascade hops. 2) It’s ridiculously regional and totally ignores that 48 other states have breweries and the ability to make dark, hoppy beers. 3) It sounds like it’s made by elves or centaurs or some shit. I could – and may – write a whole column just about this.)

But you need to manage expectations. If someone comes to my taproom/kitchen and pours a beer, I want them to enjoy it. If I made a porter, but I ramped up the roasted grain, gravity, and hop bill through the roof, then I didn’t make a porter. I may have even made an Imperial Stout. But if I give it to people saying, “This is my porter!” then they’re either going to think the wrong thing about porters or think that I’m not very good at making beer when in reality what I suck at is telling them what they’re drinking.

This past weekend, I “judged” at the homebrew festival that I was at. There were no style separations and no information about what kind of beer it was I was drinking. Many times, when I was tasting the beers I was given I found myself thinking: If I knew what style this was supposed to be, I might really like it, but without an expectation built in it’s almost impossible to be able to tell if someone did what I was tasting on purpose or by mistake. It’s hard to tell if something is well-crafted if you don’t know what they were shooting for.

So, touche, sir. You were right. I do get stuck inside guidelines. Constantly. But only so much as I want to tell people what they’re getting. Information helps people enjoy my beer. Part of that information is a concise definition of what they can expect when they raise that glass in front of their eyes, to their nose, and to their lips. If you’re not stuck inside the style guidelines then your customer – the person drinking your beer – has no easy way to appreciate the beautiful thing that you’ve crafted for them.

I’ve heard it said that style labels are a very American sort of thing. That before we started building up all of these style guidelines people just drank beer and they didn’t care if what they were drinking was a porter, a stout, or a brown ale. Style be damned!

I’d like to posit that Americans need to create style definitions because of the breadth of styles we make in our creative marketplace. We’re not bound by regional specialties that are based on what ingredients were historically available in a given area. The American craft beer market is dynamic and exciting and without style definitions I don’t think we’d see nearly the amount of variety we do. Further, I think it’s the very presence of the definitions that allows our customers to appreciate just how dynamic and creative we are, especially when we do play outside the definitions.

Do I think we have to stick to them and get stuck inside of styles, making only beers that meet a certain numerical specification? No. But we need to promote them and use them, because they are the definitions of our success.

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Categories: Brewers Association, homebrew, marketing, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 23 Feb 2010 @ 09 01 AM

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Tonight! Tonight’s the night!

Back in December, I hooked up with five other beer bloggers to have a brew off. The idea? Everybody makes the same recipe, but we each get to change one thing.

We made a stout, and sent it out, and all that’s left to do is drink. We’ll be having a 5-way conference call this evening over the internets, which will be recorded and shared as a podcast for anyone who’s interested in listening in later. At the same time, keep an eye on this post – any tweets made with the hashtag #brewoff will show up here. Stay tuned to find out if my beer got everywhere and still retained carbonation! [ducks]

Finally, watch this space for a bit of live-blogging as we go.

7:56 PM: Just blew my eardrums out testing my headset with Skype. Now, for the entire call I’m going to be saying, “WHAT? WHAT?!”

8:18 PM: Just set up a video chat room at http://tinychat.com/brewoff. Not sure how many of the bloggers will join me on it, but it’s there. If you’re not one of us 5, I’ll restrict you from broadcasting your own audio/video in the room, but you can watch and type.

8:45 PM: Possible monkey wrench. Just got a DM from @HopfenTreader: “I don’t have your beer yet ???” Uh-oh.

8:59 PM: Just connected via Skype to le conference call of champions. Being recorded; using my podcasting voice.

9:06 PM: And we’re rolling!

9:09 PM: Here’s the tally of what was added/changed to the beers.

Joseph: Toasted Oats in place of Flaked Wheat
Aaron: Lactose (1/2 lb added, last 5 mins of boil)
Derek: Molasses (~12oz added, last 5 mins of boil)
Erik: Abbey Ale Yeast in place of Wyeast 1056
Nate: Maple Syrup (~16oz added, last 5 mins of boil)
Peter: Bourbon Barrel (half of the batch aged in an oak barrel that had been soaked with whiskey, then half batch blended back into whole batch)

9:18 PM: Just tried Jospeh’s – probably closest to the base style out of all of us. Nice sweet slightly roasty flavors. Really, nice and drinkable. Going to be hard to comment on differences until we get into some of the others.

9:22 PM: Aaron’s beer is a lactose beer. I am lactose intolerant. I’m not drinking much of this so that I can.. y’know.. digest it. It is absolutely amazing how much different this is from the beer prior to this. Good. Maybe a little sour. I’m not a huge man of milk stouts in general, so I’m not going to comment on quality, but I can comment on the fact that it’s a BIG ol’ lactose beer.

9:29 PM: Just popped mine open. Low carbonation, which is a shame. I was running out of CO2 when I put everything together. Good, just low carbonated. The abbey ale yeast makes an incredible difference in the flavor. It’s a VERY different beer from Joseph’s. Peppery notes abound, not as many of the esters as I would have expected. I wonder how much is getting lost on the roast.

9:37 PM: Nate’s maple syrup beer. You can really smell it on the nose – doesn’t really come through as much on the flavor. Solid beer. The base style is there, and picks up a lot of nice fruit flavors, some from the yeast that Nate ended up using, but I imagine you’re picking up some fruitiness from the maple syrup post-fermentation.

9:44 PM: Derek’s molasses stout – big.. just.. huge wonderful sweet nose. Nice caramelly flavor on the beer. The molasses really comes through. Just a fantastic beer, and really well-balanced.

9:49 PM: Peter’s Bourbon Barrel Stout – wow – just a ton of oak. Peter put half the batch in an oak barrel with bourbon in there. The oak is really prominent to me – bourbon notes are very subtle. Over all, great beer, would probably be brilliant with aging.

9:55 PM: We just decided on Derek’s molasses stout as the “brew-off winner” – fantastic beer. 12oz of molasses, said he, at the end of the boil. Do it. Great freakin’ beer.

11:15 PM: I just made it back around to Joseph’s Toasted Oats stout. I don’t if it’s the fact that it’s warmed a little or that my palate has gone out the other side of “shot” and back again, but it’s a totally different beer this time around, and with the experience of having drunk all of these other beers all night, I have to say that I quite like it. I think now that it’s warming I’m picking up a little more diacetyl from the oats. There’s a nice butterscotchy undertone that’s really pleasant in the same way that the caramelly sweetness of the molasses beer was. I’ll make a recommendation for the toasted oats as well. Nice addition well done.

As a wrap-up, I’ll be serving my version at tomorrow’s homebrew fest and picking up people’s opinion’s there.

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Categories: blog, homebrew, new beer
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 19 Feb 2010 @ 11 25 PM

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Oh my god! Stop the presses! BrewDog has done it again! Having been denied any long-standing shock value fame from the release of Tactical Nuclear Penguin by Schorschbräu and their 40% alcohol Eisbock, Brewdog has struck back with a 41-percenter: Sink the Bismarck!

I am as eager as anybody to try TNP, and through the magic of friends and corporate globalization, I will be able to do so next week. I can’t wait! But even in the spirit of friendly competition between breweries this is getting silly and it won’t be much longer before it’s just plain old.

I can only assume that StB is ice distilled a la TNP. I can’t say that I’m an expert in freezing beer or eisbock production, but as far as I know there’s no reason to stop at 41%. You can just keep on distilling it further. All you really need is a colder ice cream factory, right? So, in the grand scheme of things there’s no good stopping point for this marketing competition, right? It’s just going to go up and up every few months, 1% at a time until they’re selling super-sweet whiskey and calling it beer. Unless you can tell me that either the 40%-er or the 41%-er tastes like it was made by magic gnomes, then in the grand scheme of things I’ll still prefer a nice smoky scotch to this beer-flavored schnapps.

I can rant all I want, but these guys are really funny.

You want to REALLY impress me? Make a 4% alcohol beer that is flavorful and wonderful that I will want to order every single time I go to the pub. You know how hard that is to find?

I don’t really want to direct this rant solely at BrewDog. They’re the current perpetrators, but they’re only the current exemplification of an overall problem in the beer marketplace. I ask this:

Is “up” really the only direction to go? In the grand quest for beer to be treated as seriously as wine and spirits, are we really going to resort to gimmicks and marketing ploys? Are we so out of ideas already that the only thing we can do to make a better beer is “put more shit in” or “make it bigger than the last”?

I wonder how many people are out clamoring for the world’s strongest wine. I wonder how may people drink Bacardi 151 over the Bacardi 80-proof for reasons other than “fire” and “drunk.”

I guess at the end of the day, I’d love to see people creating these stories and indulging in this quirky creativity that could so easily define the craft market segment – BrewDog does that SO well – but I want to see it about a beer that is, oh, you know, available and accessible. Instead of creating something that will draw people in that’s delicious and easy to drink, the craft brewing industry seems to be hell bent on making products fit into smaller and smaller elitist niche markets. I’m not sure that’s the direction to go in to rise above that 5% market share.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe StB does tastes like it was crafted by elves and unicorns and it will be the beer that wins the world over and stops the A-B InBev machine, but somehow I don’t think it will be anything more than another badge for beer geeks. “You had Utopias? Well I tried Sink the Bismarck!”

Would I try it? In a heartbeat. Send some over. Prove me wrong. I want to be wrong. I want it to be accessible and awesome. But I bet it’s a try-it-once “can I just have an IPA please?” kind of beer.

What do you think?


This month’s Session takes a lovely turn back to its roots for it’s 3rd birthday, and we’re back to a “beer definition” type of topic. This month, the topic is cask-conditioned beer and it is being hosted by Tom Cizauskas at Yours for Good Fermentables. You can read the the announcement to get the full gist of the topic, and make sure you head back over to YFGF to read the post round-up later.

Cask-conditioned beer is actually a tough topic for me. While I love it, I don’t have any sort of style specific knowledge about it. In addition, barring the occasional cask beer festival, there just aren’t that many casks available around me on a regular basis. I hear rumors, however, that Alivia’s Durham Bistro will soon have the first operating Beer Engine in my local area which got me thinking:

How exactly does a beer engine work? You see the hand pumps at bars all the time, and you see bartenders muscling a pint of cask ale up for you, but I’m not sure I’ve ever understood exactly what goes on in there. So I did a little bit of research.

The point of a beer engine in the first place was that the cask that you were serving out of was not at the bar. In a classic pub setting (and I’m using classic to mean “prior to refrigeration”) it was likely in the cellar, where it had been conditioning and where it was generally going to last the longest. You used the beer engine to move the beer up from the cellar and into the customer. Today, this isn’t always true. Many of the beer engines that I’ve seen are set up merely feet from the cask the serving out of the hand pump is considered to be part of the cask ale experience, rather than a necessity of moving the product.

As it happens what’s going on inside of a beer engine is simple – like frighteningly simple. With the giant swan neck and big ceramic handle, I assumed that something complicated and Victorian was happening below decks, but here’s the truth of the matter:

It’s just a fancy-looking piston hand pump, and that’s it. There’s a one-way valve inside the pump just below a piston chamber. When you draw on the lever, it pulls the piston up, dispensing the beer above the piston – forcing it up into the swan’s neck – and drawing more beer into the chamber. Pushing the handle back to its original position merely pushes the piston back into place, closing the one-way valve and returning it to a position at which point it can draw more beer from the keg.

A meager diagram of a hand pump.

The poorly-dawn diagram that you see to your left is essentially the same thing that you can see going on in the upper-right corner of the 1808 diagram above. Beer comes in from the cask below the pump, through the one-wave valve. The piston draws it up and then pushes it out the swan’s neck above. The cask has to be open and breathing or you’ll create a vacuum in the line (and cask) and won’t be able to draw beer which is, of course, why casks have such a small shelf-life. Not only are you drawing oxygen into the cask with each pull, but you also have a container which isn’t under pressure. The ale will de-gas on its own over time.

If you’re drawing beer up from a cellar, I would imagine that the weight of the liquid could be quite an issue and that you’d need quite an arm to pull it over a particularly long line – it is a great argument for keeping the keg close at hand.

The last optional piece on the beer engine is the sparkler on the serving end of the swan’s neck. It is totally an optional piece of equipment and I expect there will be at least one post around today’s Session that will talk about serving with a sparkler vs. without. The sparkler is just a little nozzle with holes in it, it means that the beer is broken into multiple airy streams as it’s poured into your glass instead of one large stream. It greatly increases the head on your pour and releases a lot of carbonation in the process. Many people argue that it also scrubs hop aroma because of this large release of CO2. Again, I suspect others will discuss this. Knowing how that beer got into my pint is good enough for me today.

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Categories: Sessions
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 05 Feb 2010 @ 12 26 PM

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 03 Feb 2010 @ 8:08 AM 

I sat down to watch Beer Wars last night. It’s interesting doing this now, almost a year after it’s been released, seeing the original reviews, the reactions, and seeing what’s happened over the past year. As a note, one of the first columns that I wrote on this blog was about Beer Wars – actually about the hype surrounding it which, at the time, was kind of rubbing me the wrong way. Looking back, I’ll admit that one of the reasons that the hype was bothering me was because I wasn’t able to actually go participate in the one day release. I’m now glad that I didn’t, because I’m sure that had I viewed it then, I would have seen it entirely differently.

Yesterday, due to a new distribution contract with Warner Bros., Beer Wars hit streaming Netflix and I was finally able to get a look at it, albeit a year removed.

Allow me to start here: I enjoyed it.

In fact, I enjoyed it a lot more than I originally thought I was going to. The first 10-or-so minutes of it, in particular, I thought were playful, fun, and educational and really showed the ridiculous scale of the beer industry quite well. Jim Koch’s regular statement of, “Bud spills more beer in a single day than I make in an entire year” (featured in the film) is very apparent here and that message alone is worth watching the movie for. I wish the entire film had carried the tone of the first ten minutes, even so much as to carry the cartoon Anat Baron all the way through.

From a “I’m critiquing this movie” standpoint, I think Beer Wars suffered a little from not really knowing what it was. It wanted to educate, and then it wanted to criticize. At times it was a little unfair in its criticism, sometimes ignoring reality in favor of a flashy point and in general I’m okay with that if that’s your modus operandum – but it clashed with the educational and feel-good parts of the film. I found myself thinking that if Beer Wars had merely presented the facts of the scale of the industry alongside the wonderful story of how craft beer has evolved, without trying to be edgy and in-your-face and make points against BMC (and especially Anheuser-Busch), that it would have carried its point much more effectively. In the end, it felt like an Anheuser-Busch critique vehicle wrapped around a warm and fuzzy story about Sam Calagione with a little bit of feeling embarrassed for Rhonda Kallman on the side.

Like I say – I enjoyed it and I would recommend this movie to others. I wonder at how it would play to people who are not beer geeks. I will probably never know. I’m not sure I know non-beer-geeks that I haven’t at least somewhat indoctrinated, anyway.

I cannot say enough about Sam Calagione in this film. He makes the movie and without him it would not have been nearly as compelling. Nevermind that he’s the GQ posterchild of craft beer, the guy is so damn charismatic and.. and.. likable that it’s impossible not to root for him. When he’s sitting there with his kids climbing all over his shoulders with that goofy grin of his, it puts the, “Yeah, so I had to put my family into a crippling amount of debt to try to chase this dream” into harsh relief and you want nothing more than for him to succeed. He was the perfect centerpiece for this movie.

I wish there was more Dick Yuengling in it. He just makes me smile. Go get ’em Dick!

I cannot, however, figure out the choice of Rhonda Kallman and Moonshot here. It looks, in the movie, like a failing brand from the get-go. The problem is that the film doesn’t convince me that the reason that she’s failing is because she’s getting roughed up by A-B. It sounds like a gimmicky product, she even sells it like a gimmicky product in the parts of the movie where she’s looking for investments ($6 mil! Holy moly. I’ll take the $800,000, please.). I don’t know. Maybe my opinion is colored by the fact that I know that New Century, who makes Moonshot, also makes Edison Light which is my second least favorite beer in the entire world (behind Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat which, I swear, tastes exactly like circus peanuts). Sorry Rhonda, I’m just not a fan. I’d feel more empathy if I thought it was a great beer.

The one moment where I really wanted to back Rhonda up was a scene in a bar, where some jackass patron who is trying the free beer she’s given him asks her, “Does your husband know you’re out here doing this?” right before another one asks, “Will this cure whiskey tits?” I never felt as bad for her as when she laughed along with them like it was all some sort of joke when by all rights those guys needed a good solid cock punch.

“Does your husband know you’re out here doing this?” Really? You sexist assbag!

Anyway – without getting lost in these details, I went into watching this with a couple of questions in my mind:

1) In retrospect, did the movie live up to the enormous amount of hype that was generated?

I think that the enormous amount of hype actually hurt this movie. It had such an onslaught of publicity that I think it needed to be Gone with the Wind to live up to the expectations of critics within the beer industry, much less traditional media. With all of the buzz, it needed to absolutely blow your mind to be treated with anything except let-down afterward. It’s really a shame. There’s a good story here and there are good messages, but because it wasn’t Citizen Kane it didn’t get the attention it deserved after release.

On the other hand, because Ms. Baron was working on getting this out without a distribution deal, because it was being released in the one-time-special-event manner that it was, I’m not sure I can come up with a better way to have marketed it. You had one shot, you had to make sure people were there or it was going to be an enormous financial loss. That’s rough.

With any luck, Warner Bros. will be able to help market it outside of the craft beer community which, frankly, is not the audience that needs to see this movie – it’s preaching to the converted.

2) Why was the BA so eager to support prior to screening it, and what, if anything, did they gain by it?

At the time of the Beer Wars release I kept asking myself: Why are so many prominent members of the BA wrapping themselves up in the promotion of this movie when, by their own admission, they have not screened it?

Watching it, it hit me: If I was filmed for a movie, and I knew that I was going to be on the big screen, I sure as hell would promo the shit out of it, too! In the grand scheme of things, they knew that the movie was going to be complimentary to their cause and their industry because they had spoken about the point of the film with Ms. Baron. At that point pushing this movie was a no-brainer; it was good publicity for yourself, your company, and the industry as a whole, regardless of whether or not the movie was brilliant.

I was surprised to find out that there were only small clips of Charlie Papazian, Greg Koch, Maureen Ogle and the Alström Brothers in this, though, considering how prominently they all featured in the promotion (and live discussion on release night). Good personalities! I’m glad they were used in the live discussion; it led me to believe that I would see more of them in the film than I did. I wish that a recording of the live discussion would have been available via Netflix.

So, what, if anything, did the BA gain? Awareness. But I think that’s it – not that that’s small. However, I feel that Beer Wars drew a harsh picture of the three-tier system and distribution that I’m not sure is necessarily in the best interest of the BA. The three-tier system and wide distribution networks have a lot to do with the fact that I’m currently able to drink Stone Arrogant Bastard and New Belgium Fat Tire here in North Carolina. Both Greg Koch (Stone) and Kim Jordan (New Belgium) were briefly featured in the film and I’m sure that they would both tell you that without distribution agreements that would not be possible.

She took a (warranted) passing shot at the tactics and bullshittery used by some distributors, but rather than doing an expose on slimy (and illegal) business practices, we got a short montage of Ms. Baron hunting for purportedly mythical Neo-Prohibitionists which, I might argue, are actually a real threat to the industry.

Overall, however, I think the BA – and the craft beer industry in general – receives a net gain here, even if just off of the first 10 minutes of the film, and the crazy freakin’ title that shows up on top of the Dogfish Head introduction segment: “Dogfish Head: 0.0002% Market Share.” I may have missed a 0 there. Regardless, it was REALLY effective.

3) What’s the best way to follow this up?

Yes, I’d like to see more. Maybe Beer Skirmishes. I’m just not a huge fan of war.

I think that, in actuality, there were 2 or 3 documentaries all smushed into one here and that either through lack of focus or lack of funding we got this movie. Here’s what I think we potentially have inside Beer Wars:

– The story of the craft beer industry, its inception and growth and a straightforward honest comparison between craft beer and BMC. ie – show off the little guys, and show just how little they are and what a disadvantage they are at without having to trash BMC. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar and all that. I suspect we’ll get a lot of this from the upcoming Beer Pioneers.

– An expose of the tactics of the less scrupulous members of the distribution industry in comparison with the distributors who are now focusing on craft and trying to play by the rules.

– A politico documentary of BMC lobbying vs. Beer Institute lobbying vs. BA lobbying. None of it’s pretty (lobbying just isn’t), but it would be fascinating to see where they differ and where they all overlap (and I’m sure they do).

Any single one of those could be a compelling documentary and some of them, if done correctly, could actually be a driving force for change in the industry. I hope that Ms. Baron will find success through her Warner Bros. distribution contract and will come away with the funding to pursue one of these topics in depth.

In verbose conclusion I say: Go forth and watch this movie. Most especially, make sure that those you know that aren’t huge beer geeks watch this movie and be ready to go to the bar and talk it over with them over a pint of good, locally made, craft beer.

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