Beer Culture the Movie – The Review

On Saturday I attended the 2nd of two free screenings for Beer Culture the Movie held at Left Hand Brewing Company.  The World Premier was the night before at Upslope Brewing Company.  These breweries were chosen because of their prominent roles in the film and were easily filled wall to wall for the premiers.  Tom Kolicko, the film’s Executive Producer and Director, told me they ran out of space at Upslope for the World Premier an hour and a half before the movie started.  The screening at Left Hand was scheduled to be outside, but unfortunately the weather in Longmont didn’t hold up so we squeezed onto camping chairs and bar stools in the tap room.

Tom’s company, Free Mind Productions, has been working on this 55 minute documentary about the Colorado craft beer scene for the past 11 months.  Beer Culture features interviews with many of Colorado’s established micro-breweries, including New Belgium, Avery, Oskar Blues, Wynkoop, and Left Hand, but focuses largely on those still trying to make a name for themselves like Upslope, Equinox, and Eddyline.  Here’s a short statement about the film from Tom:

Beer Culture the Movie is a feature length documentary about the American Craft Beer Movement and the rebirth of an American Culture that has come out of it. The film takes place in Colorado and features some of the state’s top brewers and tells their stories of struggles and successes in their pursuit of living the modern American Dream. Although the film is centered around the Colorado beer industry, it is a commentary on the American economic situation and how a community can thrive by supporting small business in the time of the great recession.

From the moment Tom fired up his laptop, I was riveted to the make-shift projector screen.  This documentary captures the American dream in a very special way.  Without going into so much detail that I ruin the film, here are the highlights.

Craft beer is a perfect metaphor for the American dream. – Governor John Hickenlooper

It wasn’t just the beautiful cinematography that was captivating, but the message spoke to me and, judging by the thunderous applause, everyone else in the room as well.  Beer Culture targets both casual drinkers and craft beer connoisseurs alike, asking “What’s in your glass?”.  But those that felt good about drinking macro-brews may think twice after watching this.

In a time when our economy is in rough shape and it seems like no one makes anything in America anymore, craft beer is turning the tide in a small but significant way. – Marty Jones, Cheers Leader at Wynkoop Brewing Co.

If the story of these micro-breweries making it by the skin of their teeth and the sweat of their brow doesn’t inspire you, check your pulse.

Early on, we were dumb and broke and didn’t really realize what we were getting into. – Eric Wallace, President of Left Hand Brewing Co.

And here’s my favorite quote from the film:

Beer is not beer. If you think beer is beer it means that you, basically, are completely ignorant of the beer renaissance that has been occurring in the United States over the past couple of decades. – Eric Wallace

Executive Produce and Director Tom Kolicko

There’s something that my wife hung in our house, it’s just a little sign that says ‘What would you do if you knew you could not fail?’. – Matt Cutter, Founder of Upslope Brewing Co.

It’s a great question, one that’s very telling of how Matt has made it from not knowing how he was going to pay the rent to releasing his 4th beer and doubling the size of his tap room.  Making it in this business takes luck, guts, sacrifice, and a tremendous work ethic… but every one of them would tell you it was worth it.

If you missed the two free screenings, the Denver debut of Beer Culture will be held on Thursday, July 14th at Wynkoop Brewing Company.  The festivities begin at 6:00pm and the screening starts at 7:30pm.  Tickets are available on their website, as well as the DVD and other merchandise.  Cheers!

My shots from the evening:

About Sean Buchan

Sean is a Physical Therapist and Photographer living in (and loving) Denver, Colorado. He enjoys shooting just about anything but his true passion is capturing the craft beer culture here in Denver. If you enjoy his photographs check out Beertographer.

  • Kevin Deming

    Thanks for the awesome review! I am the editor of the film and oddly enough i work at Euclid Hall with Ryan who helps with this website. Asked him if he could watch the Thursday screening and post something on here for us if he liked it. Guess you beat him to the punch!

    Really glad that you enjoyed the film. Spent many long hours crafting it together (so to speak). Cheers!

    • Sean Buchan

      Thanks Kevin! I really wanted to make the World Premier at Upslope the night before, but traffic was not on my side. Anyway, great job on the film. I’ve watching it twice already and I’m sure there will be a few more in my near future.