‘Craft: The California Beer Documentary’

Director Jeff Smith

Never before has such an exhaustive, wide-ranging documentary been made about the craft brewing movement in California. This features interviews with every big name, covers every topic you can imagine, and leaves no sudsy stone unturned.



Did you know how integral California was to the national microbrew scene?

I did realize it when I started doing research. I originally was going to do a doc just on craft beer. After some research, I realized that that had been done many times before. But none were specific to California, which is where I live. Once I realized that craft pretty much started here and that I live here, it was go time.

How much beer did you drink while making this film?

A friggin’ ridiculous amount. My producer did most of the driving, while I did the “tastings.” I also filled my car up so much so that I couldn’t hold any more and had to give it away along the way. My wife was none too pleased when I showed up at home and completely filed the fridge up with beer. It took 30 days in May 2014.

What was the most surprising thing you learned?

The camaraderie and the helpfulness toward each other between brewers. It’s ridiculously cool and unheard of in other industries. They really are (for the most part) in it for the greater good. And to take a little market share from the macros along the way.

Do you think the craft-brew bubble will burst?

I don’t think it will burst, but I do think it will respond accordingly. Things cannot continue to go up. I think the guys making great beer will stick around while the subpar ones won’t.

Is the public wising up to the corporate pseudo microbrews like Blue Moon and Shock Top?

I don’t think so. Obviously the beer nerds know about it and are quite vocal. But the general public might not care so much. Those macro guys know how to market. There’s a reason BM and ST are the biggest “craft” brands out there. Plus those guys are staring to scoop up the craft brewers: Ballast Point, Firestone, Lagunitas, etc. etc. That will continue. And if the macros are smart, they won’t be obvious about the new ownership. Let what works continue that way.

What’s your favorite beer?

Anything from Alpine in San Diego, which has now been bought up by Green Flash. Their IPAs are untouchable, in my humble opinion.

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