Beer Wars Movie Review and DVD Giveaway

I was not able to attend the live showing of Beer Wars in my area, but I have since seen this documentary on DVD several times.  Regardless of how the theater showing of the movie came off, the intent and purpose of the movie makes it a must see for anyone remotely interested in beer or documentaries.beerwars

Without giving away the movie, Anat Baron walks the viewer through a good basic lesson on the history of beer in the US from Prohibition to Modern Day.  You have to see some the commercials that were included from Anheusher-Bush, pretty funny stuff.  But, seriously it depicts how the major Macro breweries ate up, consumed, and spit out the little guys until there were hardly any breweries left in the 70′s.  Now, the Big 2 breweries (Anheusher-Bush and Miller Coors) make up 80% of the beer market.  And now Anheusher-Bush accounts for 1 of every 2 beers sold in the United States!   Beer Wars also gives us some mind numbing statistics on the dollars spent by these companies on advertising, I’ll let you watch the movie to be shocked.

Beer Wars is not just about the Big Boys and their monopolistic advertising machine, the Documentary also follows 2 people in the beer industry and their struggles to get a foothold in the market.  The first, most of us have heard of and have a ton of respect for his efforts in brewing, is Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery.  The movie gives a good back ground on Dogfish Head in Sam’s own words, how they struggled to get to where they are and the struggle to continue to meet demand going forward.  I have to say, Sam Calagione was a great pick for this movie; he has a ton of charisma, passion and is very well spoken.

The “heroine” in Beer Wars is Rhonda Kallman, the former Co-founder & Executive VP of Sales and Brand Development for Sam Adams.  She is starting a new company Moonshot, when this movie was filmed; the first beer with caffeine.  I’m going to leave out my personal opinions about this beer and the nature of it vs. craft beer.  What I thought was interesting about following Rhonda instead of another rock star craft brewer,  how difficult it was to get her beer to market and in the stores and bars.  Maybe that in of itself says something about the beer?  She basically took the Sam Adams brand from nothing to a nation wide household name and yet she can’t get the time of day with investors or the major breweries to market or sell her beer.    I can say I was not a fan of the beer or the “in it for the money” sense I got from this part of the story, but it was different and gave the documentary some depth and different perspective.

As a parent I’d be remiss if I didn’t say, I felt there was almost an intrusion into the personal life of Sam Calagione and Rhonda Kallman that I could have done without.   Throughout the movie we were able to see glimpses into both Sam’s and especially Rhonda’s family life.  It does show them as “human” instead of a corporate machine, but still, for me family is a pretty sacred thing that the public doesn’t get to see.

Beer Wars has a serious and interesting story line, but there are also some very humorous asides as well that keep the movie rolling.  The Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light blind taste was very funny, idiot after knucklehead saying I’m a “Bud Guy” or “I only Drink Coors” couldn’t tell their “beer” from the other two kidney byproducts.  There were a bunch of short commentaries from some of the other “Rock Stars” of the beer world, including Dick Yuengling, Jim Koch (Boston Beer), Kim Jordan (New Belgium), Carol Stoudts (Stoudts), Charlie Papazien, and My favorite was Greg Koch’s angry brewer rant.

Overall I really enjoyed this movie and I’ve watched it several times; there’s a great mix of history, politics, humor, and brewery ambition in this movie to make it entertaining, informative, and a must see for beer lovers.

Leave a comment below to win a DVD copy of Beer Wars! (contest rules)


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27 Responses to “Beer Wars Movie Review and DVD Giveaway”

  1. Mike - Says:

    I already have the DVD so you can exclude me from the giveaway to give someone else a chance.

    But I loved the film and Sam I believe was the shining part of movie. You are right about his charisma and you can’t help but like him. I found myself wanting to drive up to Delaware and go to the brewery and brewpub just to get the chance to talk to him about beer.

    Rhonda’s story was kind of sad. The part where she was leaving home to go out and work and her kid is crying was a very sad moment. And in the end I wasn’t sure whether to feel sorry for her or angry at her for trying to sell off her brand to the bigger names.

    Over all I thought it was really informative and got an emotion out of me and I believe is the main goal of a documentary. In the end it did what it was suppose to do to me.

  2. Chris Nascimento Says:

    I enjoyed this movie a great deal inthe theater. But I thought it focused too much on Rhonda, particularly when it is so debatable if her products meet the definition of craft beer. This movie is well worth having however, lots of facinating insight…

  3. Jim Says:

    I was hoping to see this in the theater, but was not in one in my area, so disappointing.

  4. nate Says:

    I haven’t seen this movie, but intend too…winning it from simply beer would be a plus.

    My interest is especially piqued from this:
    As a parent I’d be remiss if I didn’t say, I felt there was almost an intrusion into the personal life of Sam Calagione and Rhonda Kallman that I could have done without. Throughout the movie we were able to see glimpses into both Sam’s and especially Rhonda’s family life. It does show them as “human” instead of a corporate machine, but still, for me family is a pretty sacred thing that the public doesn’t get to see.

    I have four children with a fifth on the way in about five weeks. As a guy who inspires to open a brewery, I’ve wondered how it would work and how I could continue to be a “family man.”

  5. Per Larsson Says:

    From the trailer it seems like a must-see. If I win the DVD I will copy it to the phone and show it to everyone down the pub! (But not to all at the same time, of course…)

  6. Pete Culos Says:

    Peter, I’m a big Sam Calagieon fan…but I don’t really need to see his personal life either! Hey, I went to the City yesterday for Craft Beer Week. We were there too early for any events, but did get to a couple of great places. Want a write-up for the blog?


  7. Pat Says:

    Would love to win a copy of the DVD. These guys are the rock stars of craft brew.

  8. Michael Says:

    Would love to win this dvd. Am especially interested on seeing what they had to say about Dogfish. I happened to come across them not long ago, and am now a big fan.

  9. Jay Says:

    Wow, sounds like a great movie. Would love to check it out!

  10. Josh Says:

    I would love to see this DVD, sounds like an interesting film.

  11. Scott-TheBrewClub Says:

    I still haven’t seen it either although it was written about extensively online. I’d like to see it, but it still sounds a bit lopsided regarding who is the good-guy and who is the bad-guy. It sounds like ‘here is the deal’ no thought required by you.

    Really. How many American families are able to grow because Mom or Dad works for AB? Quite a few I imagine. How many kids go to college because of all the Bud that is sold? A bunch I bet. How many people have a job because they make commercials for MGD64? Its not all bad. I’m sure there are big-brewer execs who sacrifice for family too.

    Business can be brutal – that’s Capitalism. The Craft-beer world seems to often be based in some kind of weird open-source crunchy lovefest.

  12. Dustin Kalman Says:

    I am really dying to see this movie. I unfortunately couldn’t make it to any theater showings in my area due to school (night class) and other commitments.

  13. Roland Says:

    I’m not sure how I haven’t heard about this movie. It sounds awesome. As an avid beer drinker(not just bud light), I enjoy all things beer.

  14. Drew Says:

    I’ve been wanting to see this for a while. The closest screening to me was an hour away and I just couldn’t make it. It looks like I’d learn more about beer from the movie, and that’s always good.

  15. Sean Says:

    I just heard about this movie today from another beer blog. I added it to my netflix queue, but sadly they don’t have a copy yet so it would be great to win a copy. Thanks for the chance!

  16. David T Says:

    I also was not able to attend the screening, but am looking forward to seeing it! I was planning to buy a copy soon, but winning one would be even better!

  17. Joe Says:

    I’ve been wanting to see this movie, but haven’t had the chance yet. Winning my own copy would be cool. I enjoy craft beer and my homebrew. This documentary sounds very interesting. I’d love to learn more about the industry.

  18. Billy Vegas Says:

    I wish I had a copy of this beast on DVD… looks amazing.

    Great review, btw. If I don’t win it, I’m definitely picking it up…

  19. David Doucette Says:

    Re: your take on showing Sam & Rhonda’s personal life – it didn’t bother me but I felt the movie suffered for it. I didn’t need this ‘humanizing’ to flesh out the David v Goliath angle and felt the time could have been better spent examining market tactics.

  20. Eric Cyr Says:

    This movie sounds so interesting! I have in on back order through NetFlix. As a home brewer I like to take in all the information about the history of all sorts of beer. This definitely looks like a must see. Oh and if I win it I can remove it from NetFlix queue! Yay!

    Saguaro Barlywine-Secondary
    Copa Ale-Drinking
    GBR IPA-In Queue
    Willy Goat Bock-Primary

  21. Jessica C Says:

    Really wished i could have gone to the theater to see this, but couldn’t make it. Would really love to win a copy!

  22. JT Neville Says:

    Dan from Devils Canyon Brewery recommended this to me months ago, I heartily recommend it to all interested in beer and business. There is a soda one too he also shared:

  23. Paul Wagner Says:

    I have never heard of this movie but after seeing the trailer I feel it’s a must see. I have become a bit of a beer afficionado (amature of course) and recently have become a beer brewer. I have sampled many different styles of beer and have brewed a few too. I would LOVE to win this DVD!!!

  24. Marianna Says:

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  25. Rial Says:

    I watched this movie on recommendation of a friend, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have been planning a beer dinner for my friends and would love to add a showing to part of the evening’s festivities.

  26. Dan Says:

    Enjoyed the film. Hope I win a DVD.

  27. Andrés Says:

    The movie’s a great input in the whole ‘Fast Food Nation’ / ‘No Logo’ kind of debate on big-capital consumerism.

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