Review: American Beer (2004)

>> Monday, January 15, 2007


USA/C-105 m./Dir: Paul Kermizian/Cast: Paul Kermizian (Himself), Jon Miller (Himself), Jeremy Goldberg (Himself), Richard Sterling (Himself), Robert Purvis (Himself)

In June of 2002, New York college student, Paul Kermizian, and four of his friends set off in a minivan on a cross-country adventure to visit 38 craft breweries in a scant 40 days. Their quest, the brewery tours, and their suds-induced hangovers are documented in the 2003 documentary, American Beer.

Any good documentary requires either a fascinating subject or a larger-than-life character at its center to make the journey worthwhile. Unfortunately, the subject matter of American Beer--the art of craft brewing and the business involved--while well-documented, is unlikely to interest non-beer drinkers or those that find Budweiser flavorful. Furthermore, while a beer-swilling, cross-country expedition sounds like fun, American Beer’s road-trippers are not a particularly interesting or humorous group (they seem to think that making faces at the camera is the height of comedy). Happily, the craft-brewing industry seems to attract quirky eccentrics, so the documentary really sings when Kermizian focuses on interviewing the owners and brew masters of the breweries on their tour. The passion displayed by those brew-obsessed oddballs elevates this documentary above Food Network fodder.

Drinks Consumed--Beer

Intoxicating Effects--Slurred speech, swearing, and hangover

Potent Quotables--LARRY BELL (Founder/President of the Kalamazoo Brewing Co.): With my apologies to Mr. Baudelaire--One should always be drunk. That’s the great thing; the only question. Not to feel the horrible burden of time weighing on your shoulders, you should drink without respite. Drunk with what? With beer, with poetry, or with virtue as you please, but get drunk. And if you should wake on the stairs of a palace, on the green grass of a ditch, or in the dreary solitude of your own room and find your drunkenness has vanished or is ebbing, ask the wind, the wave, ask the bird, the star and the clock, ask everything that flies, everything that sings, everything that speaks, everything that moans. Ask them the time. And the wind, the wave, the bird, the star, the clock will all reply, “It is time to get drunk.” If you are not to be the martyred slaves of time, be perpetually drunk with beer, with poetry, or with virtue as you please.

Video Availability--American Beer DVD (Special Edition)

Similarly Sauced Cinema--The business and politics of the wine industry are placed under the microscope in Mondovino (2005).

Ultimate Beer (Hardcover)

3 comments:

Caio January 17, 2007 at 5:34 AM  

There's another Canadian film called American Beer (1996), directed by a Grant Harvey. It was a really small-scale release, probably playing in a handfull theatres and with whatever money the director had, supposedly. I only watched it because I know a girl who knows the director. But god damnit is it funny. I don't think I've ever seen another small-scale release that's made me laugh till I cried. Anyway, it looks like they're selling copies on the web still, so it might be worth the investment.

garv January 17, 2007 at 4:41 PM  

Caio,

Welcome to Booze Movies, and thanks for the suggestion. I've added it to my Netflix queue.

edP January 19, 2007 at 7:33 AM  

There was a girl I was in the program with whose parents were Canadian. Her folks used to refer to Pabst, Bud, Miller whatever as "American Pop"

Sorry to mess up such a classy blog with references to those beers

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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

All text including the title "Booze Movies: The 100 Proof Film Guide" Copyright William T. Garver

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