Beer Wars Anat Baron

Beer Wars Anat Baron
If you ever wondered why American beer is like making love in a canoe, this is your film. Former Mike's Hard Lemonade executive-turned-documentarian Anat Baron guides us through the sleazy world of American suds. It's a David vs. Goliath story where the Big Three (Anheuser-Busch, Coors and Miller) do everything to smother the small indie players. Predictably, Baron stands on the side of the Davids, particularly microbrews Dogfish Head and Moonshot, whose ambitious owners she follows. While Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione is gambling on expansion, Moonshot founder Rhonda Kallman is battling just to keep her caffeinated Moonshot afloat. It's painful to watch her say goodbye to her bawling daughter as she leaves for another evening to shill her brew at local bars, or follow her across Manhattan as she tries to raise capital to support her fledgling company. Kallman and other microbrewers run a gauntlet of obstacles: an arcane distribution system that strangles their supply, the millions that the Big Three spend on mass advertising and the powerful beer lobby in Washington that dwarfs both guns and tobacco combined. Baron takes a cue from Michael Moore, with her tongue-in-cheek voiceover narration, but she's more at home telling us the story of Sam and Rhonda, and by guiding us first-hand through beer industry conventions and corporate offices where she once tread. Though the David-vs.-Goliath angle is nothing new, she raises disturbing questions about how capitalism truly runs in America, and wonders if competition can survive on an uneven playing field in any industry. The bonus features include a lively 30-minute roundtable hosted by Ben Stein, who chats with Baron, specialists who appeared in the film, plus Sam and Rhonda about the dire state of American beer. A handful of deleted scenes are cute, but inessential. Now, if only someone can make a doc about Canadian beer. (Ducks in a Row)