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.
Anyway, neither the film nor the panel discussion are available online, so I can’t direct you to then. So what follows is a (brief) summary of the film’s point and of the panel discussion. And of course I’m giving you MY interpretation of what I saw/heard that night.
The film’s creator, Anat Baron, argued that “big brewers” like Anheuser-Busch InBev have too much control over which beers are sold in stores. This is partly because they’re big corporations with lots of money. But it’s also because of their relationship to the equally powerful beer distributors, who are the middlemen in the three-tier system (the three tiers being brewers, distributors, retailers).
The three-tier system, which was established by state and federal laws, forces forces brewers to rely on distributors who sell the beer to the retailers who then sell it to consumers. Between them, the “big” brewers and the distributors determine which beers end up in grocery stores. They control access and leave no room for beers from small craft brewers.
(Literally no room: Anat showed scenes from grocery stores so that we could see how big beers hog most of the available shelf space.)
She also argued that big brewers spend millions on advertising, and that this advertising is so efficient and intense that most consumers never get a chance to find out about other beer options.
Next: The beer people’s argument about their industry