The American Dream is very much alive in the craft-beer industry in the United States. Across the country, small brewery owners are growing grassroots concepts and producing handcrafted brews that consumers can’t get enough of. Neither can documentary filmmakers.
A new film, Blood, Sweat, and Beer, follows two start-up breweries in the first year of their quest. Much like fellow craft-beer documentarians of the film Crafting A Nation, director and producer Alexis Irvin and crew capture small business owners who are revitalizing run-down areas of cities by creating community gathering places.
First, the film tracks a trio of 23-year-olds as they struggle to start The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company in Braddock, Pennsylvania. “Matt, Asa, and Brandon hope their brewery will help this once-prosperous steel town bounce back from decades of neglect, violence, and population loss,” says Irvin.
“We met Matt and Asa of The Brew Gents at a Cicerone exam in Washington, D.C.,” Irvin continues. “They were twenty-three and opening a brewery, so we were instantly intrigued.” Irvin and crew stopped in Braddock for an interview earlier this year and were immediately struck with the DIY attitude of The Brew Gents and the history of Braddock.
As Blood, Sweat, and Beer follows the other start-up brewery, Irvin also takes on another loaded topic for the craft-beer industry: trademark disputes. The film tells the emotional story of Danny Robinson of Shorebilly Brewing Co. (now Backshore Brewing Co.), an Ocean City, Maryland, boardwalk brewery owner and restaurateur, whose empire is threatened by an aggressive trademark lawsuit.
“We were immediately struck with Robinson’s passion, enthusiasm, and excitement for entrepreneurship, Ocean City, and beer,” says Irvin. “We thought following him for the first year of his business could be a great story line—and then a few months in, this trademark legal battle began. His trial was in July; we are all anxiously awaiting the verdict.”
Irvin also interviewed Brewers Association (BA) president Charlie Papazian and BA Craft Beer Program Director Julia Herz, as well as representatives from several other breweries including Oskar Blues and New Belgium Brewing.
Watch a trailer for Blood, Sweat, and Beer on Kickstarter, where Irvin recently raised more than $12,000 to correct and master the film and for music licensing and film festival fees, among other expenses. Next for the filmmaker is applying to film festivals and setting a screening calendar for 2015.
A rough cut of the film was shown at the Somewhat North of Boston (SNOB) film festival in Concord, New Hampshire, this past weekend. The four-day festival featured tastings from several regional breweries, including Canterbury Aleworks, Smuttynose Brewery, and Tuckerman Brewing Co.
Find the screening schedule and more information about Blood, Sweat, and Beer at bloodsweatbeermovie.vhx.tv.
Photos courtesy of Alexis Irvin