It’s an odd feeling seeing three friends on the big screen within minutes of a film starting. It’s even more odd sipping a Stone IPA in a plush Fashion Island cinema next to Saks Fifth Avenue. The film? A craft beer-fueled documentary called Blood, Sweat, and Beer, co-directed by Alexis Irvin and Chip Hiden (where’s my chippy?). With my Newport Beach Film Festival all-access pass dangling from my neck, this is the one film I’m truly buzzed to see. (EDIT – FILM IS OUT ON ITUNES!)
I first learned of the film Blood, Sweat, and Beer from Kickstarter late 2014. Over 150 backers pledged $12,292 to bring the film to life. The lowest perk, $15, netted fans a digital copy plus their name in the credits (look for me!). One of the biggest budgetary hogs of their Kickstarter budget goal was a shocking $3100 in film festival entry fees. Second was $3000 for music licensing.
The story intertwines the dramatic and cautionary tales of two brewery startups. Much like older beer documentaries such as Beer Wars, stats and other hot topics that define today’s craft beer world fill the film’s gaps. Average cost to start a brewery? Craft versus crafty? It’s all in there.
Plot A tells the emotional story of Danny Robinson, a new brewery owner in Florida that struggles with not only the seasonality of his beach-boardwalk business, but also finds himself in a horrific legal battle with a t-shirt company. Making beer is one thing, but the realities of running a business really hit hard, especially when a good deal of time is spent with lawyers. It should be noted that his brewery uses small skateboards as tasting flight boards; seriously, Pizza Port should jump on that.
Plot B is way more uplifting as it follows three millennials in their final 30 days before their brewery’s grand opening. With zero income in a near-abandoned town, their goal creating a well crafted tasting room with great beer goes down to the wire before the ribbon cutting. One of their main objectives is starting a business that has an impact on revitalizing the town and attracting new businesses and clientele.
Both plots are full of emotion, self doubt and most of all, passion. Overall, it solidifies the importance of the American dream, and how craft beer is so solidly weaved into it.
Post originally appeared in BeerPaperLA, May 2015