Filmmaking, Writing, Beer, Insularity, History, and Other Topics More-Or-Less Related to “Beer Wars,” Part 10

Part 1 — Part 2 — Part 3 — Part 4 — Part 5 — Part 6 — Part 7

Part 8 — Part 9 — Part 10 — Part 11 — Part 12 — Part 13

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.


Yes, I’m almost at the end. This is part ten of thirteen. And no, I never intended to string this out so long, which has resulted, I’m afraid in a more disjointed rumination than I originally intended. (Nor did I realize Life was gonna get in my face the way it has the past week.)

During the panel discussion, Anat showed a clip of Todd criticizing Rhonda for not making “real” beer. The general drift was that she doesn’t make “real” beer, so she’s not a “real” beer person or a “real” entrepreneur. She’s not “authentic.”

The exchange floored me. If the craft people want to exclude someone like Rhonda from, say, their trade organization, fine. But it strikes me as disingenuous to believe that they, and they alone, have the power to decide what is “real” beer and what is not.

And that gets at the heart of the matter (or one of the hearts, for this is a creature of many hearts): If the craft people want real beer, great. But their passion and desire for real beer does not grant them the power to deny other kinds of beer to other people.

Why? Because this is, after all, the United States, where we all believe in the “religion” of choice. It’s a big world out there. I’m willing to allow the craft brewers their corner of the world, but they in turn ought, I think, be generous enough to accept and acknowledge that not everyone agrees with them and their view of beer, real or otherwise. Nor should they render moral judgment upon those who prefer one kind of beer over another.

This is the essence of why battling over religion itself is pointless: If five people believe in five different gods, it’s clear that the “ real god” is whatever one each believes in. If so, then by definition, there can’t be “one” god. So why insist that your view of god is the correct one?

(And of course if I had the answer to that question, I would in one swoop solve most of the world’s problems.)

But the subtext of that discussion was, of course, the Big Brewers. No one came right out and said it, but in effect, they’re regard Rhonda as a patsy for Big Brewers, and, like them, foisting “non-real beer” off on consumers.

I have another view: I think Rhonda, and the Big Brewers are simply giving Americans what they want, and to understand why, we need to turn to the other villain in this piece: the 3-tier system.


4 thoughts on “Filmmaking, Writing, Beer, Insularity, History, and Other Topics More-Or-Less Related to “Beer Wars,” Part 10

  1. This comment was from Dave Divelbiss (aka Loyal Reader Dave):Well, you have made us *wait* but that’s OK… Yeah, “they” have ranked on contract brewers, like “Shmaltz Brewing Company” [pretty hard sometimes] even tho they have some pretty high scoring beers in Beer Advocate…I suppose it’s touchy? for those that are brewers, but for those of us that are tasters and enjoyers, duh, no brainer! If it’s good it’s good!dave

  2. This comment was originally posted by Dan from’ve had a similar discussion with myself a few times now… essentially, should I take it upon myself to educate the populace re: ‘good’ or ‘real’ beer. While I do think it’d be in everyone’s best interests if the whole world drank craft exclusively, at what point do I not have a right to tell people what is good and what is bad?I’ve determined that the point is pretty damn early on, so for the most part I keep my mouth shut. But still, I judge (as I did Rhonda, admittedly)

  3. This comment was originally posted by Chris:I was fortunate to meet Rhonda after Beer Wars in LA and she is certainly just as fun and passionate as she is portrayed in the film. And anyone that knows how much work she has put into the craft beer industry and how she has helped it grow will be careful to judge her too harshly.But I do agree that the Moonshot beer she is trying to sell bucks what craft beer is about and tends more towards your expectations of people who will cave into their human desires for success and eschew the quality that makes craft beer special. Caffeine is not like adding chocolate or fruit which adds flavor to beer. Caffeine actually does nothing for the taste of beer and that makes it a gimmick. THAT alone is what rankles craft beer lovers and why so many have been outspoken about her current work.You are criticizing the craft beer community for definining what is a “real” beer, much as the Germans did with the Reinheitsgebot, but it is that which makes craft beer special. If the craft beer community does not take such a stand then the beers they love have a chance to lose what makes them special and the industry is more likely to become exactly what you predict will happen to Greg and Sam, all about the money and not about the beer.

  4. Well, if Rhonda were putting herself out there as a “craft” beer maker, that would be one thing. But I gather she’s not, right? I mean, she’s just trying to market and sell a particular kind of beer.And I’m not exactly criticizing the craft beer people for trying to define “real” beer. (At least I hope not.) I’m just saying, or trying to, that they don’t own beer. As Rhonda said in LA, it’s all beer. To which I would add: it’s a big world. Plenty of room for all. (I hope!)And as long as we’re talking Rheinheitsgebot: Just a reminder to anyone who cares that the “Germans” came up with the concept not to make beer “pure” or “real,” but to prevent brewers from using grains that people needed as food. The “purity” law came into effect at time when malnutrition and hunger were rampant in Europe (because of war, failed crops, etc.), and rulers didn’t want beermakers wasting edible grain on beer.So it was never intended to define “pure” beer; rather, it was intended to prevent people from starving.


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