Beer. The nectar of civilization.
Unless you are a teetotaller who has lived under a rock, miles away from any pub or off-licence, you may have noticed that, in the past 20 years, the number of beer brands on sale and available to drink has increased by A LOT. This is due to the craft brew movement.
Like the many food-related treads of the past 50 years, craft brewing began as a reaction to the homogenization of beer by big companies making their products to appeal to the tastebuds of millions, resulting in beer that was “too close to water.”
Christo Brock’s Brewmance briefly covers the movement’s origins, with Fritz Maytag’s purchase of the Anchor Brewing Company in 1965 and the Jack McAuliffe’s creation of The New Albion Brewing Company in 1976. It features commentary from multiple players in the craft brew scene, including Fritz Maytag himself.
But the main focus of the film is the act of creating the brew itself. The film follows the starting up of two craft breweries in California, the birthplace of craft brewing. We have Dan and Jesse, a Christian father and son team that once hit heads constantly until they found a means to bond through craft brewing. And we have Danny, the retired ska trombonist, and his friends/partners Eric and Michael, who create a cool place to hang out.
The latter has more drama, with delays and a trademark dispute with another established craft brewer. It’s a proper fly-on-the-wall drama of a start-up in its early phases. It also reminds us that the time this movement was small and everyone was friendly to each other is long gone. There are now over 4,000 craft breweries in the United States alone.
This reviewer finds Danny’s story the most interesting, with the highlight been that his first craft brew was inspired by something he encountered in England – Jaffa Cakes. He tried to make a beer inspired by Jaffa Cakes. It’s maybe the first time I have ever encountered an American mention Jaffa Cakes.
For those curious about how beer became so interesting and varied recently, this movie is a good place to start. It covers the basics of the craft and processes, with the use of simplified stylish 2D graphics (by SMOG), and explains how various things can alter the taste and smell of a beer. For a science geek, like me, that stuff is gold in a documentary.
It’s amazing what can result from mixing water, malt, hops and yeast.
Brewmance is available now on all major VOD platforms.
Review by Gordon Wallace