NOTE: When I moved to a new site, this “Beer Wars” series was mangled/destroyed during the move. I’ve reconstructed it by copying/pasting another copy of the original posts. I also lost the comments in their original form. I’ve copied/pasted the comments, but had to do so under my own name. So although it looks as though I’m the only commenter, I’m not. In each case, I’ve identified the original commenter.
Several people asked me if I planned to comment on Beer Wars and the events surrounding it — and I thought, “hey, good idea.” (‘Cause, doh, it hadn’t occurred to me to do so . . . ) Good idea because I’d like to offer a larger, more textured perspective than has been dished out thus far.
So. You guessed it: Another! Multi-part! Series!
First some background to the saga, which unfolded over the course of several years: My beer book came out in September 2006, about a week prior to the Great American Beer Festival, and so I headed to the festival to sign copies of the book. While I was there, a refreshingly sober, decidedly chic woman — Anat Baron — introduced herself. She explained that she was making a film about the brewing industry. (At that point, she’d been working on the project for about a year.)
By coincidence, I was scheduled to be in St. Louis in November for a book signing on the same day that she planned to be in that city to do some filming. So we met up in St. Louis and she interviewed (filmed) me for about two hours, asking questions about brewing history, etc. (Because I’d been involved in several documentaries, I know that an hour of filming equals about a minute of “air time,” so I knew that my part in the final product would be small.)
Over the next several years, we stayed in touch by email and compared notes as we both wrestled with our respective projects — her film and my new book, a history of meat in America. Because we communicated so often, I quickly realized that writing a book and making a film are nearly identical processes. We both had to find our “story,” identify our “characters” (which, in both our cases, were real people), construct a narrative arc based on the characters’ stories; do lots of research; collect and sift through mountains of raw material; write, edit. Edit again; and then edit some more.
I also got to know Anat. She’s extremely intelligent, blunt, intelligent, determined, self-confident, self-assured, talented, intelligent. Did I mention that she’s intelligent? And talented? And self-confident? Perhaps fearless is a better word.