The Guy Who Visited 80 Craft Beer Breweries In 1 Month Explains How To Turn Beer Into A Career
Every guy wants to own a bar. At least that used to be the case. I specifically remember my friends and I drawing up plans to take over my father’s tavern and turning it into a hang out. Then we grew up and realize running a bar is hard work.
These days, guys don’t usually fantasize about owning a place that sells booze. They typically aim bigger — making their own beer. The number of operating breweries in the U.S. in 2014 totaled 3,464, with 3,418 of those considered craft, demonstrating that craft breweries make up 98 percent of all U.S. operating breweries. Those numbers don’t take into considerations the thousands of amateur brewmasters cooking up beers in basements, garages and kitchens around the country.
Craft: The California Beer Documentary follows director Jeff Smith on a one month road trip visiting 80 of the top breweries in California, including Lagunitas, Stone and Sierra Nevada, to discuss the microbrewery movement. The film just launched on DVD and VOD after receiving an endorsement from The California Craft Brewer’s Association, who are also featured in the film.
The documentary explores the exciting world of craft beer told by the brewers that are setting the standards.
Director Jeff Smith took some time to talk to us about the boom time for craft beer, how to turn a passion for beer into a career and some of his favorites brews.
Throughout the documentary you interview a large assortment of brewers representing all walks of life. Besides a passion for beer, do you think there were any common qualities that were shared by the majority of brewers?
The family aspect was very evident and very cool. the fact that they all are in it for the greater good against the big guys was very cool and surprising. what other industry do people actively share info and band together? None that I’ve ever heard of.
In the movie, you touch on the politics that separates “Craft Breweries Vs ‘Regular Breweries.” How did you personally define a craft brewery before making your documentary and how did you view it after?
There is a definition from the Brewers Association that says any brewer that makes over 1 million barrels per year isn’t considered craft so I steered clear of those. But, since filming some things have changed. Golden Road was purchased by AB InBev, and Ballast Point by Constellation. So, now they aren’t considered craft even though they are in the documentary. But at the time, they were which is why I decided to keep them in it.
Your interviewees state that an IPA is more or less essential for any up and coming microbrewery and I was curious as to why you think that’s the case?
It’s by far, the most popular style. Not just in California, but nationwide. I personally think that if you were opening a brewery, it would be a mistake to not have at least one available.
Which other areas of the country have an up-and-coming craft scene?