I just got home late last night from California and am only now trying to catch up with what accumulated in my absence -- including a slew of Twitter replies and direct messages. (*1)
Anyway, thanks to all of you who saw Beer Wars, who commented, who wrote to me, etc. Much appreciated.
The one thing all of the panelists said immediately after the panel ended was "Too bad we didn't have 90 minutes for that segment. We definitely could have had a good shouting match." (Which we'd sort of had earlier. No, we don't all agree. Or, more accurately, I don't agree with any of the other panelists or with Anat.) (Which, of course, is why I was there: the outsider perspective, because as I keep reminding people: I'm not in the beer industry. I'm a historian who just happened to write a book about beer.)
The film's producer/director/creator, Anat Baron, hopes her project will provoke some discussion. I hope so, too, although what I hope for is a larger discussion among Americans, not just beer geeks.
The most frustrating aspect of this experience is that, thus far, all the commentary has come out of the beer world and so is focused on the beer industry. But Anat was trying to make a larger point about American society and capitalism. For example, I hope the films sparks discussion about Americans' attitudes toward alcohol, which to me is the main issue from which all other things flow.
Eg, the original purpose of the 3-tier system was to place barriers between Americans and alcohol. It was not created so that big brewers could screw little ones. Indeed, historically in the past 50 or so years, large and small beermakers have cooperated more than they've warred -- a point that's lost on just about everyone in today's "small" brewing industry. Anyway: onward, onward, onward.
*1: I tried last night and a day or so ago to wade through the Twitter-mass -- but what the fuck was up with Twitter? Was it me? Or was the entire system totally haywire???