Film on Tap: Beer Docs Shooting in Austin

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Adelberts Beer

Film on Tap is a column about the many ways that beer (or sometimes booze) and cinema intersect in Austin.

Film and beer have not intersected as much in the Austin community as they have in the past month. Two film crews recently made the rounds to brewpubs and breweries in Central Texas to document the history, culture and challenges of our local brewing industry.

Chris Erlon, founder of local post-production audio studio Digital Domain of Austin, is sharing his love of craft beer by documenting Austin's growing microbrewery movement in his film project Brewed in Austin. You can see him in the above photo interviewing two of Adelbert's Brewery founders, brewer Scott Hover and general manager Greg Smith. The local production will cover the Austin craft beer movement from the history of craft brewing in Austin to a new brewery on the block, South Austin Brewing Co.

The student filmmakers behind Beer Culture, a documentary about the Denver craft brewing industry, are broadening their scope in their latest project, Crafting a Nation. This feature-length documentary is being shot around the country to tell "the story of how American craft brewers are re-building the economy ... one beer at a time," including regions in Oregon, California, Texas, Colorado, Missouri and North Carolina.

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Beer Culture was well received by craft beer enthusiasts and brewers alike for its commitment to the culture and passion of beer, so much that many local breweries and brewpubs opened their doors and taps to the film crew during their visits for Crafting a Nation. Director Tom Kolicko describes the current American craft beer movement as the "great new American success story." As a prelude to the Crafting a Nation premiere, the filmmakers will post a short mini-series online that will include sneak peeks of the film including behind-the-scenes footage, exclusive rare beer tastings with brewing experts and interviews with key players in the beer industry. Interactive webisodes will allow viewers to ask questions and post responses to make Crafting a Nation what Kolicko calls "much more than a feature-length documentary but more of a community social cause project."

Local breweries and brewpubs filmed for Crafting a Nation include Austin Beerworks, Independence Brewing, Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling and Hops and Grain. The filmmakers also met with Freetail Brewing Co. founder and brewer Scott Metzger and North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery founder Davis Tucker (seen above with director Thomas Kolicko and Producer Courtney Cobb) to discuss the regulatory challenges faced by Texas brewing industry and efforts towards legislative actions to affect changes.

Director of Photography Brendan Harris and the other filmmakers ended their whirlwind five-day visit to Central Texas at the Austin rally for craft beer consumer advocacy organization Open the Taps!, which was hosted by Jester King Craft Brewing. Jester King is also a subject of Crafting a Nation, undoubtedly due to their role as a co-plaintiff in the recent lawsuit Authentic Beverages Company Inc. vs. against TABC. The often colorful and verbose Judge Sparks found unconstitutional the codes that allow the TABC to prohibit a Texas brewer from advertising where its beer is sold, and describe it accurately as beer or ale, as a violation of the First Amendment.

Another beer-related project that has an international subject of local interest is Beer Hunter: The Movie, which is currently funding as a Kickstarter project. The subject of the film is internationally renowned beer journalist Michael Jackson, also known as The Beer Hunter. During Jackson's international travels, he visited and supported many breweries and brewpubs including those of Texas and Austin. Backers at higher levels can submit their own memories of Jackson for inclusion in the film's DVD extras as well as the film itself. My encounters with Jackson at the historic Ale House in Houston and his appreciation of local craft beer left a lasting impression that I attribute to my own passion.

The theatrical release of local documentary Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission is happening this month -- the movie opens this Friday at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar with nightly screenings. At the same time, Austin Beerworks has released Sputnik, a hefty Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout, on local taps including the Alamo Drafthouse including during tomorrow night's premiere at 7 pm. Check out the final video of the collaboration -- read about my experience in last month's Film on Tap -- between Cuvee Coffee and the Austin Beerworks brewers below:

[Photo credit: "Adelbert's Brewing Greg and Scott, courtesy of Adelbert's, "Scott Metzger and Davis Tucker at Freetail Brewing", by Debbie Cerda, for use with attribution.]

[Full disclosure: Debbie is currently employed part-time by NXNW Restaurant & Brewery, and supports as many local breweries and brewpubs as  her liver allows.]