A Bockumentary Film Review

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Let me set the stage for you: Five friends leave New York City by minivan and set out to visit 38 breweries in 40 days.

Did you see the last part of that sentence? 38 breweries in 40 days. I am jealous beyond belief. I wish I had the luxury to take a month and a half off of life and go on that type of road trip.

But instead, those 5 guys did it for me and made an entertaining and very well-="edited and well-conceived documentary called American Beer: A Bockumentary.

What really set this documentary apart from other "road trip" style efforts is that the focus was not on the 5 friends and their relationship over the course of the trip. It was on the brewers and breweries. That is exactly as it should have been and I loved it.

It felt like a really fast hour and 45 minutes. The 38 breweries they stopped by are some of my favorites, including Anchor Steam, Brooklyn Brewery, Dogfish Head, Ommegang, New Belgium and Rogue. It was fun to put faces and voices to the "brewmasters" I have been reading about and drinking from. Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head is a physically fit dude just about my age. Larry Bell from Bell's is sort of an unkempt nerdy-looking fellow. Anchor Steam's brewer is older than my parents and bought the brewery in 1965. On and on, it was fun to see the brewers and the guts of the breweries.

The brewers, for their part, were extremely forthcoming about being a craft brewer. Each one, in part, discussed how and why they started, the challenges in owning and brewing in a craft brewery, humble beginnings, and their favorite beers. Larry Bell's story of his rocky start ("My second year, I made $25,000 and lost $25,000") and the mysterious sale-from-heaven that allowed his brewery to take-off was a really cool story. One and all had a great tale of starting with a single kettle brewing 3 times a day to the operation they have now. Some still brew amazing beers in cobbld-together shops and the Yuengling brewery (American's oldest) still makes use of the 52-degree tunnels hand-dug into the mountains (and apparently brew with ghosts).

The guys, of course, get smashed with some of the brewers, but again, little attention is paid to their party episodes in lieu of footage capturing each brewer's personality and story.

This is not a movie that will teach you how to brew. This is simply a movie about the greatest beer run in American History. I highly recommend this bockumentary and further, declare it Required Watching for the contributors to Around the Keg. It's a great contribution to the history of the AMerican Craft Beer movement. As the movie says when it starts

By the end of the 1970's," reads the white-on-black text that opens the film, "corporate consolidation" left the United States with less than 50 breweries.

There are nearly 1,400 in the U.S. today.


Sopor 7:22 PM  

Well seeing as I haven't even managed to post yet, I'll at least take my responsibility to watch (or possibly even reenact) this movie!

Smitty 9:11 PM  

Dude, you're going to reenact it...in Germany. Next year. You bastard.

Sopor 7:15 PM  

Hellz yea!! (but it's likely to be 2010) I should get me a camcorder before I go!

And the difference will be that I will barely be able to understand the blokes!

Man I can't F-in wait, going to be the experience of a lifetime!

George 1:00 PM  

How is this available? Sounds great.

Smitty 5:00 PM  


netflix, amazon

Rickey Henderson 3:09 PM  

hah, a "bockumentary." In other news, amber boch is Rickey's favorite cheap beer of all time.

George 7:02 PM  

Thanks for leaving the info on my blog, too. Sorry I was too lame to look it up myself. If I didn't drink so much beer I'd be better motivated.

Mike 7:14 AM  

George beat me to it. So it's already on Netflix. Nice.

I'm off to update my queue.

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