03 March 2012

Weekend Cooking: Review: Beer Wars (Film)

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Although my drinks of choice are scotch on the rocks and red wine, I do appreciate a good beer, especially beers from Belgium and Germany or small U.S. craft brewers. I don't know much about beer or the beer industry though, so when I spotted the documentary Beer Wars (directed by Anat Baron) over at Netflix, I decided to give it a shot.

Although the basic premise (that the major American beer companies brew an inferior product and have tons of money) was no surprise, I was completely ignorant about the extent of competition among brewers for the beer consumers in this country. Similar to most other business sectors, including the publishing industry, big brewers are buying up smaller companies and doing whatever they can to maintain their hold on the market share.

The beer wars are fought not just in the glass but on TV (ads), for shelf space, for sports sponsorships, and at beer distributors. The big three--Anheuser Busch, Miller, and Coors--have so much money and influence that they're the second-largest PAC in Washington. Who knew?

The Beth Fish Reads household doesn't drink enough beer to have supported the major American brewers in the beer wars, but I'm glad to know that when we do buy a six-pack, we are spending our money on the good stuff made by little guy.


caite 3/3/12, 6:31 AM  

wow, this sounds right up my alley!
First of all, beer is my favorite alcoholic beverage. Not a big drinker..but then I believe in quality over quantity.

And having grown up in a bar..that my family owned...I saw first hand the destruction of a number of smaller breweries decades ago by the vast among of money Budweiser started to spend on advertizing.
And for heavens sake, they put RICE in their beer. It should be illegal.

Rikki 3/3/12, 7:22 AM  

Sounds like an interesting film, even though not my cup of tea, :). I know, I am german and Germans and beer are an item, but I don't like beer at all, unless as a shandy. Still I wouldn't mind watching this film.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 3/3/12, 7:49 AM  

It's terrible isn't it? We aren't beer drinkers either, but this does make me want to be more cognizant when we head to our local pub to order something a little more mom and pop. Yikes!

bermudaonion 3/3/12, 8:02 AM  

I'm married to a beer drinker, but he refuses to drink the "fizzy yellow stuff" - he supports craft brewers. I'll have to tell him about this movie.

Amanda 3/3/12, 8:03 AM  

Next week I hope to return to Weekend Cooking! I was going to this week and then my birthday post ended up being too long to post my cupcake recipe as well. Boo! Lots about food in there, but nothing about cooking, really...

As a side note, on my actual birthday, Jason and I looked up the date on Wikipedia to see about births/deaths/events on that day. The boys got really excited when I said it was National Beer Day in Iceland. So excited, in fact, that they ripped off their shirts, grabbed mini-bottles of wine that we use in cooking, and pretended to drink them. I have a picture of all three of them doing it, Ambrose with two bottles at the same time. Sigh... :D

Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook 3/3/12, 8:32 AM  

Not a beer drinker at all, just never acquired the taste but I do use it in my cooking and I prefer the smaller guy brews. Always rooting for the small guy!

Beth S. 3/3/12, 8:57 AM  

Given that I lived in Germany for two years and was never a beer drinker before that, I have absolutely zero desire to drink American beer. Every time I buy beer at the store it's always a European beer or a small batch American craft beer. To me, high volume, brand name American beer tastes like bitter toilet water (well, what I imagine bitter toilet water would taste like anyway LOL!)

Uniflame 3/3/12, 9:15 AM  

I don't really drink beer myself, but the film sounds good. The household too don't drink enough beer to really make a difference.

Zibilee 3/3/12, 10:06 AM  

I have a few friend who are very into beer, and they have talked to me about this very thing. I had not idea that the major brewers were brewing such inferior beer, but one of my very good guy buddies took the time to tell me why and what the difference between a small brewery beer and a large one was. We even had a little taste test, and side by side like that, I could really tell the difference! This is a movie that I need to see, and tell him about! Thanks for sharing this with us!

Julie P. 3/3/12, 10:11 AM  

Sharing this with my husband right now...

Margot 3/3/12, 10:43 AM  

I enjoy this type of expose type of movie/documentary so I'll look it up. I find it hard to believe they are the #2 PAC. I wonder who #1 is.

Joy Weese Moll 3/3/12, 11:47 AM  

Living in St. Louis, I used to have a pick for the winner, but since Anheuser-Busch was bought by a Belgian company it doesn't really feel like a local play anymore. We have a terrific craft brewer in Schlafly beer, but at the moment the beer in my fridge is all from Ireland. I was afraid that I needed to learn to drink Guinness before our trip, but it turns out that the Irish drink a lot of red ale these days and that's not hard to like at all!

Peggy Ann 3/3/12, 11:52 AM  

Interesting but we don't drink beer here. I do like to make beer batter for onion rings and co though!

Janssen 3/3/12, 12:37 PM  

I don't drink, so beer is a whole new world for me!

JoAnn 3/3/12, 1:07 PM  

Wine is the drink of choice in our household, but my BIL is quite a beer connoisseur. I'll have to tell him about this documentary - thanks!

Peaceful Reader 3/3/12, 1:56 PM  

We support the little beer guys when we do drink beer. I'll have to order this through NetFlix-my husband will be very interested.

On a side note did you know that New Belgium (Fat Tire) has a female CEO! That is a company I love to support.

Carole 3/3/12, 2:18 PM  

This series is a great way for some of us foodie types to share our thoughts tips etc. thank you

Cat 3/3/12, 2:23 PM  

I don't like beer - glass of wine is my choice of tipple but hubby loves his beers.

Libby 3/3/12, 2:59 PM  

Hey Beth! Love your topic! This reminds me of the "Food Guerillas" book that I reviewed a few weeks ago. Big Food vs. the little guys. One of the worries is that we are putting our food supply in the hands of too few people. thanks for letting me know about this film!

Narineh @ The Novel World 3/3/12, 3:10 PM  

Beer Wars is an amazing documentary. My husband and I are big fans of craft beer, so for us it was very insightful. We've been careful to avoid Budweiser beers ever since.

Shelley Munro 3/3/12, 3:35 PM  

My husband is a big beer drinker, and I like the odd glass when it's really hot. Of course we drink New Zealand beer :)
This sounds like an interesting doc. There is much competition here in the beer market too. They have some awesome ads.

Christine 3/3/12, 5:00 PM  

Very interesting, but not really surprising, is it?

We don't drink beer, but every now and then we have parties around big football (aka soccer) games and many of our guests bring a six pack to share. We always have an eclectic mix of beers.. I don't think I've ever seen anyone drink anything domestic. Kind of interesting. I'm going to bring up this documentary the next time these beer drinking friends are over!

Care 3/3/12, 7:33 PM  

YAY Microbrews!

Heather 3/3/12, 10:37 PM  

I'm not a beer drinker. I might drink a beer every two years. When I do go beer shopping, I wander the import rows and pick a bottle here and there. Usually I'll buy a bottle or two from New Zealand.

Anonymous,  3/3/12, 11:21 PM  

Beer has its own PAC? I really shouldn't be surprised, but I am.

And I can't stand beer. Maybe because HB drinks Bud Light, and the stuff just smells bad.

Julie Goucher 3/4/12, 3:09 AM  

I am not much of a drinker at all. Hubby likes beer and is rather partial to Newcastle Brown Ale! Possibly the subject of a weekend cooking post for the future. He also drinks whisky (yuk, meanwhile, I prefer tea (milk and no sugar!)

My post is up http://anglersrest.blogspot.com/2012/03/weekend-cooking-forgotten-recipes.html

Heidenkind 3/4/12, 3:31 AM  

I enjoy beer once in while, but since my family is German we've always pretty much stuck to imported beer. I couldn't even tell you what Coors tastes like. This doc sounds interesting, though! Do they employ corporate spies?

Anonymous,  3/4/12, 7:27 AM  

I enjoy beer in cooking, but rarely do I order a glass (unless it is the cherry-raspberry variety at my favorite brewery :) ).

Heather S-G 3/4/12, 8:45 AM  

I'm so happy that you talked about this one...I need to find it. My brother, one of my sisters, and myself are quite the beer connoisseurs, so I think we're going to have to make an event out of getting together and watching this. With a few six-packs of locally brewed beer, of course! =)

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/4/12, 12:42 PM  

I'm not a beer drinker, but this documentary sounds so interesting.

Becky 3/4/12, 2:56 PM  

I love documentaries like this, so thanks for sharing!

Karen White 3/4/12, 11:03 PM  

I don't think I need to watch this as my husband and I are already WAY sold on the virtues of craft beer. In fact, I can't wait for this book to come out:
Even if you don't think you like beer - try some artisinal varieties - such a variety of tastes!

Daryl 3/5/12, 10:43 AM  

Monday blather .. tried a new restaurant called Slightly Oliver

Robin M 3/5/12, 5:46 PM  

Hubby would love this. He loves testing different brews and used to make his own a long time ago. Will tell him about it.

guest post blog 3/7/12, 9:21 AM  

Sounds like an interesting film...

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