Thanks to a last minute push by the New Century Brewing Company, maker of Edison Light, the interweb is again aflutter with news of the impending release on April 16th of Beer Wars: The Movie. The response to New Century’s attempt to stuff the ballot box has been divided into two camps: oft-neglected beer bloggers giddy over finally receiving some attention and outraged ranters taking aim at the film and the contract brewery.
The wording of New Century’s press release is a little unusual, if for no other reason than it doesn’t mention the phrase ‘craft beer’ or ‘craft brewer.’ This is interesting because technically (under the Brewers Association’s definition), New Century doesn’t qualify as a craft brewer because (until very recently), all of its beers were made with flavor lightening adjuncts. The wording of the release tracks the BA’s definition but for its omission of the word ‘traditional,’ which the association defines as:
A brewer who has either an all malt flagship (the beer which represents the greatest volume among that brewers brands) or has at least 50% of it’s volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.
What is much more interesting is that ostensibly, no one at New Century has yet seen the film. It’s release suggests at the film’s direction by predicting:
Beer Wars tells how corporate behemoths are using their muscle to try to snuff-out small, independent brewers who are shunning the status quo and creating innovative new beers.
The folks at New Century assume that their treatment in the film will be positive but, as I have wondered aloud about before, there is reason to believe that may not be the case. Historian and author Maureen Ogle, who will be a member of the panel airing immediately following the fillm, suggests that Rhonda Kallman’s central role in the film may be as a foil. She wrote on the MadFermentationist site linked above the following:
Rhonda is in the film because she’s NOT a big name. The whole point was that she did not “succeed” and the filmmaker, Anat Baron, wanted to compare Rhonda’s story to someone who did “succeed” (in this case, Sam C.)
Kallman’s inclusion in this project is curious on several levels but also brings the greatest opportunity for a narrative arc and to tell the story I believe the fillmmaker envisions (at least as far as I can glean from her public statements). If so, as I’ve written before, the film could be quite good. If, on the other hand, it merely repeats the tired, dated refrain of big versus little and misses the nuances involved (including that the fillmmaker appears to improperly lump New Century in with all craft brewers), then it will be a lost opportunity and a lot of work for an hour-and-a-half long craft beer infomercial.
I’ve debated this film several times over the last two or three weeks with friends and colleagues, which is certainly a good thing. So it’s time now to put away the keyboard and to revisit the subject after the film debuts. I believe that I’ll probably miss the panel discussion because I have to visit the anti-craft beer world of Lucero at the Paradise, but I’ll try to catch up with several of its members to gather its flavor.