Arts & Entertainment, Film, and Food Service & Agriculture

Brewery screens 'Blood, Sweat & Beer'

April 15, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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Grand Rapids Brewing Co. in downtown is Michigan's only USDA certified organic brewery. Photo via fb.com

A downtown brewery is hosting the first West Michigan screening of a national documentary on craft beer that features more than 100 interviews.

BarFly Ventures — the parent company of HopCat and Grand Rapids Brewing Co. — has paired with the makers of the craft beer documentary “Blood, Sweat & Beer” for two free screenings in Michigan next week.

HopCat Detroit will host a free screening on April 21. The documentary will then make its way to Grand Rapids for a free screening on April 23 at Grand Rapids Brewing Co.

BarFly will pay a flat rate to cover the costs necessary for the movie’s creators, Chip Hiden and Alexis Irvin, to bring the film to Michigan.

“We just need to cover our travel expenses,” Hiden said. “They thought it’d be a good way to give back to the community in Grand Rapids and make it a fun, free event.”

Grand Rapids and Detroit are currently the only two screenings of the film for free, because of the partnership with BarFly.

Craft beer documentary

Hiden and Irvin made the documentary as they traveled across the country for a previous film.

They would make stops for showings of that film at college campuses and then make their way to breweries.

“There are breweries springing up in every town around the country,” Hiden said. “We said, ‘There has to be a story here.’

“We settled on telling the story of startup breweries who are investing everything and crossing their fingers, hoping it works.”

The film follows two storylines, including three 23-year-olds as they begin a startup brewery in the steel boomtown of Braddock, Penn. and a brewery owner threatened by a trademark lawsuit.

Along the way, the film also checks in with many nationally known breweries: Sierra Nevada, New Belgium Brewing Co., Brooklyn Brewery, Oskar Blues Brewery, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., SweetWater Brewing Co., Cigar City Brewing Co., Rogue Ales and Victory Brewing Co.

Many interviews provide expert analysis on the state of the craft beer world and what it could look like in the future.

The film runs 70 minutes.

Funding

Hiden and Irvin self-funded the project, which Hiden estimates to be slightly more than $20,000.

Once the film's rough cut was finished, the project went to Kickstarter and was fully funded with nearly $12,300 pledged.

“I haven’t sat down and come up with the exact figures,” Hiden said. “The Kickstarter was super helpful, and we couldn’t have done it without it.”

The pair has worked on projects prior, including a documentary interviewing 30 people with their dream jobs across the country. A book deal was secured following the documentary for the writing of “Build Your Dreams: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love.”

The pair live off their film showings, book sales and other related revenues. They’ve toured to more than 200 colleges, where the career services centers generally bring them in.

For “Blood, Sweat & Beer,” Hiden said they will focus on cities with great beer cultures, such as San Diego, Portland, Ore. and Boston.

“We’re doing the same thing as the breweries,” he said. “It’s all on us.”

Availability

The movie can be pre-ordered online for when it's released later this year. For a digital copy, it's $4.99.

A deluxe edition with behind-the-scenes footage, shorts, director’s commentary and epilogue is available for $9.99.

DVD copies with many of the same features as the deluxe edition are available for $19.99.

Distribution

The ultimate hope is to generate enough buzz to secure a distributor and end up on Netflix.

“It’d be huge for us to share with as many people as possible,” Hiden said. “We just want to create that grassroots buzz to attract a distributor.”

Other screenings

Blood, Sweat & Beer” is on a nationwide tour and has already seen sold-out shows in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Sarasota, Fla.

Prior to its stops in Michigan, the film will be shown in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.

Shows are scheduled throughout the summer: the Newport Beach Film Festival in California; Queens, N.Y.; Asheville, N.C.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Fort Collins, Colo.

The world premiere was at the DC Independent Film Fest and included appearances by the two startup breweries featured in the film and other local breweries pouring beer. The beer ran out prior to the showing as more than 300 people “packed in like sardines.”

“It’s everything we could have hoped for,” Hiden said. “It’s been doing really well.”

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