Beer Wars

A look inside the cutthroat competition in the beer industry

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud

Beer Wars

Small artisan breweries are well represented in Beer Wars, a documentary that discusses the grass roots efforts of the craft beer industry, particularly their grueling struggles when matched up against the larger corporate competitors.


Writer and director Arat Baron (who formerly helped grow the Mike’s Lemonade brand) embarks on an honest quest for answers to the “beer wars” phenomenon, the alcoholic's version of David and Goliath. Baron's background in the industry sets a good foundation for the movie, which began in September 2005, and while the production quality (and certain subject focus) could be better, what results is a heartfelt effort to "change the world's opinion on those infamous 99 bottles of beer on the wall."


The smaller craft breweries face massive challenges when competing against the larger breweries, who may have an inferior product but possess priceless name recognition and loyal shelf space in stores. The big guys have the money to spend on advertising, while the microbreweries have a tiny fraction of such a budget, if at all. They simply don't sell enough beer to offer the lowest prices and base their revenue on the high volume of sales. 


Getting beer distributors to pick up the product in the first place is a massive undertaking, and we're taken through the painstaking steps of a struggling startup beer brand as it attempts to move in on the tried-and-true. Throughout the film are scattered interviews with 'beer people,' including the great Charlie Papazian, Maureen Ogle, author of Ambitious Brew, Todd Alstrom of Beer Advocate, Greg Koch of Stone and more. 


The three-tier system has made it especially difficult for craft brewers to get their product into the market, particularly when the Macro Breweries continually work the retail stores to ensure they get the most space and the best location. Moonshot, the Caffeine Beer, is a subject used to outline the struggles of an up and coming brewer. As the difficulties mount in their attempts to market their product, one has to wonder if better luck would be had with a beer that has some actual quality to it. Who the hell wants caffeinated beer? 


What makes for an entertaining and informative film could've been far better had the editing been given more consideration. Many of the clips were entirely too short, augmenting concepts and scenes, and given that the subject matter is a centerpiece of passion for many, one would imagine that the film's narration and pacing would be more professionally developed. Having been shot in a shades-of-Michael-Moore style, a certain level of professional criteria applies. 


You can get more information at the official site: Beer Wars