A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Craig -

Being "the beer guy" in my circle of friends, I had a lot of people tell me I should see this, and was invited to go several times. But honestly, I just couldn't get excited. I've visited the Dogfish Head brewery, and I'm familiar with their story - I've felt very much like the movie couldn't possibly have much to offer me.

And of course the whole "wars" aspect of it feels like preaching to the converted. Anyone I know who'd be interested in watching this already drinks craft beer and wouldn't drink a macro under duress.

So, I didn't go out of disinterest, despite apparently being the target market. But I'm also willing to admit that I'm probably just being a curmudgeon, and I'm eager to hear people who went tell me I was wrong.

Adam -

I'll be sure to chime in.

I know of at least 3 other people who are kinda "beer curmudgeons" and they're going. Count me among that type too. I'm sweetening the pot for myself with a pre show beer at a local brew pub.

Matt -

My interest in this film goes not further than me clicking 'save' in my Netflix account. When (if) it comes out on DVD I'll get a copy and then have a conversation with the nearest set of interested ears.

Mark Haugan -

I will definitely rent this movie, and there was a brief period yesterday when the hype grabbed me but I can't see myself going to this event. I thought about it and the thing I was excited about was spending time with fellow minded beer lovers, rather than seeing the movie which isn't likely to be all that informative. I decided to find a different reason to spend time with beer lovers and spend tonight with my family.

Alan -

Jack Curtin has developed a certain level of ennui and will be staying home. Zut alors!

Alan -

You can follow people twittering from the movie care of this link... if, of course, you have nothing else to do at all.

Alan -

[Numbers reported on Twitter]
- "There are about 8 people over here at Severance"
- "about 50 peeps in the savoy"
- "small crowd, but there's still time"
- "only 12 ppl at the Mills showing"
- "Me thinks I picked the wrong theater for #beerwars tonight. Ghost town! :("
- "at least 50 at robinson so far"
[Other comments to 8:23 pm EST]
- "No picture, just sound @ Green Hills showing of #BeerWars FAIL."
- "Beer wars was canceled due to lack of sound"
- "Regal Hollywood 24 had no sound for Beer Wars"
- "Sam, the founder of @dogfishbeer has a Bocce Ball court in his brewery. Awesome."
- "Skipped "Beer Wars". Took girls to Brownie Scouts instead."
- "so yeah our movie is all dark what's going on?"
- "No sound in Atlanta for Beer Wars. I am pissed!"
[Remember: people enjoying a movie do not play on Twitter as they watch.]
8:56 pm - looking here as well. I wish they would get the etiquette of taxonomy right! It is such a drain on my spirit when I have to check for both "#beerwars" and "Beer Wars".
[9:42pm: after the movie ends masses of positive people of the twit as well as a few negs:]
- "Awesome movie on beer and politics!"
- "Cynical, masturbatory, and preaching to the choir, but entertaining, and it made me want a beer, so I approve."
- "Just finished Beer Wars. Great event"
- "amused that only Ben and Anat are dressed up for the #beerwars roundtable."
- "At Chelsea Clearview a cheer went up at the start of the Yuengling section. A gasp when we saw what AB owns."
-"inspiring movie, but nothing "we" didn't already know. Waiting on the live panel discussion now. A bit let down so far though"
- "Good lord. Hire a producer that knows what they're doing... Beer wars is a good idea, rough production value"
- "This discussion is even better than the movie. Viva la beer"
- "ben stein is love"
- "Good lord, Ben Stein is out of his element" (beerovision)
- "Ben Stein needs to have a handful of hops shoved in his mouth."
-"Ben Stein = AWFUL choice for post- #beerwars movie moderator. Frustratingly clueless"
[9:53 pm EST]
- "Hmmm interesting film but very flat throughout. Kallman parts most compelling" (Andy Crouch)
- "Movie over... rather undecided still. Would not rush out for the dvd." (beerinator)
- "So is @maureenogle getting more than five seconds of face time in this movie?"
- "@maureenogle Great job! Loved your appearence in "Beer Wars."
[10:01 pm]
- "Just saw #beerwars . Great documentary." (NealStewart)
-"Great movie. If it comes out in DVD I will buy 10 copies and send them to people I know. "
- "Just got back from Beer Wars. God movie, horrible theater, picture went black about 3/4 of the way in. Got money back though" (from Minnesota)
- "Saw the documentary "beer wars". Terrible. Although Dogfish founder is pretty awesome."
- "stein is a terrible moderator...ben stein should give money back" (Andy Crouch)
[10:11pm. In case you are wondering, the Mets are on... and now they've lost. Switching to Jays and Twins.]
- "I really enjoyed Beer Wars. Ben Stein was pretty annoying though."
- "Just saw "beer wars" Ann-busch literally owns the planet. It was like a michael moore film. Very interesting"
[10:20 pm. The BAer thread has begun.]
- "Beer Wars good but flawed. Worth seeing. Ben Stein asked good questions. Personal review later..." (Cizauskas)
- "Just finished @beerwarsmovie enjoyed it - not a big crowd in woodlands mb 20 - but at baker St woodlands tweetyl"
- "I feel bad for everyone watching other movies at the theater. There were a lot of loud drunk people at Beer Wars. (and in the hall outside)"
- "The theater I went to here in Altamonte Springs, FL (town on the outskirts of Orlando) had maybe 25 people in it, nothing impressive." (from BA thread)
- "The movie was much better than the hype, theater was empty though."
- "Thought Beer Wars was "meh." Sold as special event to beer geeks, but other than seeing Sam's house this was all old news."
- "#beerwars was mostly good, prob shoulda left rhonda out, since the movie is supposed to be about beer."
- "Beer wars. Not one other in theater. Too much? Oh well center seat for me"
- "big crowd in downtown chicago. Not a big fan of pacing and narration." (beerinator)
[10:35 pm]
- "saw guys leaving the movie in a bud distributor van]
- "Just 10 people attended #beerwars in Greeley, CO."
- "Enjoyed "Beer Wars" premiere from Fathom, but holy cow, what an anti-big business screed the film turned out to be"
- "Back from #beerwars at perimeter in Atlanta. About 100 people attended and enjoyed the movie."
- "Couldn't finish watching beer wars! The projector broke:("
[10:50 pm... good thing I have a life... because live blogging twitter might really really make me look like a loser.]
- "Todd Alstrom just got thrown under the bus in the discussion panel. He handled it well." (beerinator)
- "#Beerwars was an awesome film that explored very important issues. I hate the 3 tier system and the control that Anheuser Bush has over it."
- "Attending Beer Wars movie at the Sequoia in Mill Valley. Why is no one here?"
-"I saw that movie "Beer Wars" tonight.. not bad!"
[I love the "that movie" thing]
- "home drinking a DFH Raison D'Etre in honor of Beer Wars - good enough film, for the most part. Live segments ... not so much. (beerphilosopher)
- "Reading tweets about 'Beer Wars' and tallying up the sycophantic DFH/Calagione posts."
[10:58 pm. Neato - is that meta blogging about twitter or meta twittering? Wow. I am either a geek or a git.]
- "Not very many people at the Kent showing of Beer Wars. Less than 20 peeps."
- " Great movie but it only confirms in my mind that Todd Allstrom is a hypocritical, fucking dick."
[Language! Not to end on that note but I am ending on that note. The retweeting has begun. It makes me want to learn to love the 3 tier system just to spite them when they retweet.]

Alan -

I don't think I learned anything from that exercise. Maybe that this rocking chair needs a pillow. And just one more:
- "Uh. 13 people. Uh oh." (pacificbrewnews)

Second showing for the west coast appears to be having massive technical difficulties. Breaking up... ere, too... can't see... or screen... it's AB... retwee... AB is behi... retweetin...

Adam -

Yeah, I'd have to say that the Twitter feed wasn't far from the mark. Interesting that Twitter is.

My short take on Beer Wars.

Eh...I'm goin' to bed. Look forward to planting hops tomorrow morning. Took the day off :-)

Scoats -

I developed a surprisingly strong resentment to this movie weeks ago due to the very effective but annoying endless viral marketing.

Also like Alan, I don't find the premise to be all that interesting. The battle of small businesspeople vs. large homogenized corporate "experiences" happens every day in every industry. Elevating that to a WAR seems over the top to me. It also seems unnecessarily negative. Beer shouldn't be an us and them thing but an us and us thing.

The smaller brewers continue to grow while the huge ones cluelessly reshuffle deck chairs with mergers. There's a story there, but I wouldn't call it a WAR.

I know some folks in the movie and I think they are incredible and hope to continue to support them in any way I can. I even put up the ugly-ass Beer Wars poster since someone asked me to.

Alan -

Thanks Adam. Here are some other reviews as well as your summation:

- 2beerguys: "The movie left many questions on the table. Also, I felt that it jumped around a bit (sorta like watching the Blair Witch project). At some point, I was getting nauseous and it was hard to keep focus."

- Barley Vine: "All in all it was a good event and a rather decent documentary. It was shaky at times, but it had a very important point, especially in today's time."

- Yours for Good Fermentables: "Beer Wars is a flawed documentary. It seems to have been created to prove a point, rather than to research a situation. As a paean to the craft and business I love —artisinal beer— Beer Wars, however, is a valentine."

- Beer Bits 2: "The film was a mixed bag, something I'd expect to see on the History Channel or Discovery Channel. The panel at the end was uncomfortable sometimes."

- Andy Crouch: "All told, I think the film fell surprisingly flat. The odd thing is that with all of my critical comments before its release, most turned out to be irrelevant. Not because Beer Wars answered them, but because, frankly, there wasn’t much substance to the film."

- Lyke 2 Drink: "...there are nearly 1,500 breweries doing business in the United States. An amazing array of beer diversity exists, even if it amounts to just a small percentage of overall beer volume."

Alan -

Thanks Scoats! I think my problem with the bifurcated world view is also informed by the fact that I like Michelob porter. I think the approach that there is a continuum is much more compelling, even if it is still weighted more to one end.

Jared Whalen -

Made me laugh at times, one more beer before hand and it would have made me sleep at times as well. I think it served as more of a lobby against the beer lobby in DC. I guess you have to make you point against the 3 tier system somehow if you don't have a real voice in DC.

Interesting historical beer ad clips mixed into a film with no real plot. It was interesting and Ben Stein was pretty clueless but that part was funny to me, that and BA lambasting moonshot beer in the video clip with both people on stage and then asking for a response.

Awkward movie with a point to make but most of us "Beer Geeks" are awkward and have a point to make so it was sort of fitting.

PS. I won't be buying the DVD unless the second disc has some really cool stuff on it.

Jim -

I couldn't tell who the target audience was. It seemed to me it was preaching to the choir. No average beer drinker (read:people who only drink Light beer) would be interested.

I didn't go because of the hefty price tag, the late showing on a night when I'd have to get up for work the next day, and because it didn't seem to offer any compelling reasons to go. Sure, exposure is good, but it seems like it was pointless exposure because it was only exposure to people who are already in the know.

Instead, I stayed home and supported the craft beer industry by drinking craft beer.

Mario (Brewed For Thought) -

I didn't see Beer Wars for 2 reasons. 1) It wasn't showing locally. That's crap! I live in Sonoma County with Russian River, Moonlight, Bear Republic and Lagunitas around the corner. How do we not rate a single movie theater?
2) I had a feeling before watching the movie of "been there, done that." I'll wait for it on DVD, but $15 for each me and my wife, plus the babysitting costs to drive 45 minutes to San Rafel just didn't seem worth it.

Steve -

In a recent post on the front page of the Beer Wars website recently, Baron was basically defending and explaing the event. She stated that "Art houses do not have the ability to receive the satellite feed. I’m not shutting them out but my deal is with a company that has 440 theatres that are digitally equipped to carry the event" and that went on to say that we should be "embracing the fact that the 3 largest, mainstream theater exhibitors are taking a chance on this film"

So, its a movie about David vs Goliath struggle in the beer industry, but when it comes to distributing her film, its okay to to go with the Goliaths of entertainment industry. It just struck me as a little ironic.

Amy -

I went because I was going to write a review for US News and World Report and it was the only way to see the movie. Like many others, I didn't really learn any thing I didn't already knew. I don't think this movie will change anyone's mind or drinking habits. I liked the panel and Ben Stein although I think the live aspects were not very professional. Stein was good , partly because he doesn't belong to the beer world and brought an outsider's perspective. I thought the movie made Maureen Ogle seem really angry and anti-Anheuser-Busch. This is not how she appears on her blog and in the panel she got to present her general acceptance of capitalism and big business more accurately. As far as the event I agree it seems contradictory that Baron is so anti-big brewers but used a big movie chain to promote her movie.

Chris -

Our theater sits right beside a BJ's Brewhouse so we hit the bar early, and then walked over for the movie. Picture was incredibly dark and out of focus at times, despite the theater trying to play with the settings to improve it. The only real takeaway for me was there were a couple of beers that I drink on occasion that I didn't know were from AB. I listened to about 5 minutes of the panel afterward, and then we left to hit the pub again. The movie basically just made me thirsty and mad that I couldn't drink beer in the theater. In the movie, they did some taste tests between Bud, Bud Lite, and Coors Lite and everyone failed. Oklahoma is a 3.2 state anyway so I wouldn't drink most of AB's offerings anyway...that and they're tasteless.

Mark -

This is a movie that should have gone straight to DVD or On Demand for free. Most of the comments above have covered it. Other commentary has focused on the strange inclusion of Rhonda Kallman (Moonshot) as a significant part of the story. It is odd, except when you consider that the producer/director's professional experience is with Mike's Hard Lemonade, an ersatz malt beverage that nominally does "battle" in the 3 tier system.
The movie covers no new ground, especially for anyone with the least exposure to craft brewing. It will frustrate those in the industry who have lived the experience. It will hardly excite those still stuck drinking from the Big Two pipe. On a personal note, as an Oregonian it is frustrating to view a movie about craft brewing without a mention of one of the pioneering locales for the industry. Ahem.

Alan -

And so much for starting the conversation. No Beer Wars blog update since the 13th, five days ago.

ethan -


I'm a tad late to this party, and I don't think there's much I can say that hasn't been said. Just wanted to lend my weight, small though it is, on the side that was extremely disappointed with just about every aspect of this movie.

It could have been so much more.

miles wilhelm -

The movie was decent. Anat Baron is a pretty good director but she is a horrible host. She did succeed in creating a discussion after the movie. The only part of the movie I did not enjoy was Rhonda's story of trying to sell her Moonshot product. I thought Anat should have focused more on small brewers like New Belgium, Stone, Brooklyn, Elysian et. al.

Kolskegg -

Anat Brown should be proud, it was a solid documentary which made very esoteric issues like shelf space and distribution laws interesting. Pretty bad execution on the live section but the documentary part made up for it. I will buy this on DVD and share it with my friends.
Just a question, could the three tier system be amended so that micro brewers moving under a certain number of barrels per year could self distribute, but have to comply after passing a certain production point? That way state governments could keep their wholesale businesses intact but give the small breweries a chance to step up and prove their worth?

nathan -

Did I say esoteric? Wrong word....very dry issues seemed interesting and compelling

Alan -

Was Anat really unprepared for the discussion really only being about whether the movie was good or timely? The beer discussion has been doing on for decades.

So, Lew is done and was never interested. Harry had serious doubts, too.

Yet Maureen, on the other hand, calls the response all stupidity and Jay calls it uninformed.

Why do we expect discussions to be agreements or to only be about what we want them to be about?