The problem with the movie Beer Wars and the video, “I am a Craft Brewer,” (available at Andy Crouch’s site) by Greg Koch, shown at the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston, is that they simplify, to the level of good versus evil, very complex issues. Both also imply that drinking a craft beer is somehow a politic act. (Stephen Beaumont, World of Beer makes a similar point).
Beer Wars implies that supporting small craft beers will strike a blow against monopolistic, big business. “I am a Craft Brewer,” declares that craft brewers are “socially conscious.” How does any of this connect to selling and buying beer to drink? The workers of the large brewers, ABIB and Miller Coors are unionized and have been for over one hundred years. Are workers at “socially conscious” craft breweries unionized? Working in a brewery is hard, physical labor; do Sam Calagione’s one hundred workers receive adequate compensation and full health care coverage? Or is working in a company with a higher moral purpose sufficient compensation?
Both Beer Wars and “I am a Craft Brewer” also present a remarkably un-diverse craft brewing industry; overwhelmingly white and male. Shouldn’t a commitment to diversity be a part of social consciousness?
Before anyone responds that I am expecting too much of a business, that is my point exactly. Neither Beer Wars nor “I am a Craft Brewer” explicitly acknowledges that craft brewers are involved in an economic activity and in that way are no different from the mega brewers.