Why Beer Wars Is Good for Craft Beer

I just read an article on New Brew Thursday that states the best way to be an advocate for craft beer is to stop being a “hater”.  I couldn’t agree more.

The main subjects of the article are the website Beer Advocate (of which I am a member, and it’s saved my sobriety many a times), and the movie Beer Wars (which I have seen and enjoyed).

Now, if you aren’t a documentary person, you may still enjoy Beer Wars because, for the most part, it’s a David v. Goliath struggle.  I remember as I was watching it how I was cheering for the little guy.  Recently this was illustrated by another similar struggle, when the maker of Monster energy drinks sued Rock Art Brewery in Vermont over the use of the name for their  barley wine, Vermonster.

So here’s the important points you may not know:

  1. The big US brewers are no longer US owned: Anheuser-Busch is owned by InBev, a Belgian company, and Miller (who merged with Coors in the past couple of years) is owned by SAB, a South African company.
  2. Even some of the “craft” you may think are craft really are made by the big guys.  For example, Michelob is fully owned by ABInBev, and Blue Moon and Killian’s Red are owned by SABMiller Coors.  In fact, these companies have continued to buy up small craft brewers from around the world.  You might ask why would one do this?  Because the small companies have issues with distribution, and the big guys have a huge distribution network with little room for non-big guy beer.
  3. It’s really about shelf space.  I noticed this myself within the past few weeks at our local Hy-Vee.  The Bud Light, Miller Light, and Coors Light cooler section expanded a whole 8 ft overnight, while the craft beer suffered.
  4. It is very difficult to advertise the Beer Wars movie to get out the truth.  It is so difficult that Anat Baron (the filmmaker behind Beer Wars) posted a call to action to use social media to talk up the film because the big guys are major advertisers on T.V. and if they pulled their ads, it would be disastrous for the networks.

So, with that being said, don’t nitpick the movie.  It does nothing to say bad things about it to the general public when the major point of it is to inform said general public of the situation and let people know they vote with their wallet.

So, have you seen Beer Wars?  What did you think?

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