I should say at the outset that I love Colorado. I go there at least once a year, have many beer friends and colleagues there. There are many, many great breweries there and their beer culture should be celebrated. Of that, I believe there can be no doubt. And in fact, a new documentary film is seeking to do just that, a laudable enterprise. The title is Beer Culture: the Movie, and the idea behind it is the following. “Beer Culture is a documentary film about the growing rich American Culture in Craft Beer by telling the inspirational stories of unwavering motivation by some of Colorado’s top Brewers.” It’s release date is Summer 2011. Frankly, I can’t wait, it looks great. Free Mind Productions should be proud of what they’ve done so far. They’ve also just released a new trailer with tons of great teasers, and lots of great people being interviewed, including Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, Eric Wallace, Marty Jones and Charlie Papazian.
But then at just past the one minute mark, one of the interviewees — I’m not sure who it is — says the following. “Pretty much everybody thinks of Colorado as the birthplace of craft brewing.” Really? Um, did I miss a meeting? That just sticks in my craw. Hyperbole is one thing, but that’s simply a false statement that is just not true. I know the producers didn’t say it, but they’re sure seizing it on it to promote their film. It’s not one of those subjective facts that people can interpret different ways, like who brewed the first Black IPA. We know Fritz Maytag bought the ailing Anchor Brewery in 1965 and turned into what it is today. We know Jack McAuliffe incorporated New Albion Brewery in Sonoma, California in October of 1976 and built the first modern microbrewery from scratch. Colorado’s first microbrewery was the Boulder Beer Company, which was founded in September of 1979. Those are the facts, plain and simple.
Maybe I’m being oversensitive, but I don’t think so. Last week, John Kerry was quoted in a press release about the new BEER Act that’s been introduced in the Senate that the “craft beer revolution started right here in Massachusetts.” Now this. I believe that Colorado has much to celebrate with its beer culture, but it doesn’t really need to take liberties with the truth to do that. It doesn’t need to throw California’s contributions under the bus to raise up its own. I don’t really feel like I should have to protect California’s place in the history of craft brewing. It seems like it should be fairly secure and unassailable, but here we are. I hope enough people will see fit to point this out to the producers of Beer Culture and they’ll remove it from the movie. They don’t need to keep something so blatantly untrue in there and for me, at least, it just mars the film’s credibility. The story of Colorado’s craft beer scene is a great and worthy subject for a movie, but it can only be improved by sticking to the facts … and the beer.