Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - The Mash -

This new doc­u­men­tary film from di­rec­tor Dou­glas Tirola frames a con­tem­po­rary his­tory of brew­ing around Amer­i­can sto­ries of pur­su­ing brew­ing dreams, learn­ing the ropes, and over­com­ing fail­ure.

FOR AS LARGE AS the United States craft beer mar­ket is, pre­cious few films or tele­vi­sion shows tackle the sub­ject. Even fewer ad­dress tech­ni­cal as­pects of the way beer is made. But Brew­mas­ter, a doc­u­men­tary fol­low­ing the dual nar­ra­tive arcs of at­tor­ney Drew Kos­tic (as he pre­pares to launch a brew­ery) and Brian Reed (a brewer for Tenth and Blake who’s study­ing for the Mas­ter Cicerone exam) man­ages to weave con­tex­tual in­ter­views with brew­ing lu­mi­nar­ies to­gether with these core sto­ries in a way that keeps them mov­ing and gets view­ers in­vested. The film never lec­tures and never judges, but paints a ro­man­tic yet re­al­is­tic pic­ture of the chal­lenge of fol­low­ing one’s dreams.

The film­maker has done his home­work, and the stun­ning ar­ray of back­ground in­ter­views with lu­mi­nar­ies like Sam Cala­gione (Dog­fish Head), Rob Tod (Al­la­gash), Gar­rett Oliver (Brook­lyn Brew­ery), John Kim­mich (The Al­chemist), Jim Koch (Bos­ton Beer), Randy Mosher (For­bid­den Root and 5 Rab­bit Cerve­ce­ria), and many more (in­clud­ing, in full dis­clo­sure, our own Se­nior Ed­i­tor John Holl) shed light into the personalities and sto­ries be­hind beers we all drink—sto­ries that we rarely get to glimpse and which hu­man­ize the la­bor of beer pro­duc­tion through re­count­ing the sim­i­lar chal­lenges they all faced through their brew­ing ca­reers.

While the pro­duc­tion val­ues are some­what raw, the story drags here and there, and the cam­era move­ment can be dis­tract­ing at times, the sheer plea­sure of watch­ing smart beer in­dus­try folks share his­tory, ex­pe­ri­ence, and brew­ing phi­los­o­phy through­out the film makes it worth the price of en­try. The film­maker’s pas­sion for the sub­ject is ap­par­ent, as few would spend as much time trav­el­ing around the coun­try and the world to cap­ture the in­ter­views he did, and that gen­uine love pushes the sto­ries for­ward in a way that is re­lat­able for many of us who brew or con­tinue to pur­sue more brew­ing knowl­edge. One day, Ken Burns may score a PBS bud­get to tell the mod­ern his­tory of craft beer, but in the mean­time, Brew­mas­ter will do just fine. —Jamie Bogner

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