Two years after The Dream Share Project, the debut documentary from Maryland filmmakers Chip Hiden and Alexis Irvin, the documentarian pair is back with Blood, Sweat, and Beer, an up-close look at the craft beer explosion through the eyes of burgeoning brewmasters and seasoned professionals. Centered around a trio of 23-year-olds trying to kickstart their community with a new brewery and the legal trials of another small brewery brushing against corporate big leaguers, Blood, Sweat, and Beer is a tender look at the craft beer community and what drives the brewmasters at the head of it all.
The idea sprang from the heavy touring schedule the filmmakers embarked upon in support of Dream Share, speaking at over 200 colleges across the country, according to Irvin. Each new locale offered something new to explore.
“One of our favorite things to do during all this traveling was to check out the local breweries and cool beer bars,” said Irvin. “As we’re doing this, there are so many breweries opening up. We figured there had to be some kind of story.”
Initially aiming to explore the industry as a whole, they conducted interviews with experts and big industry players such as Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Brewers Association founder Charlie Papazian and Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Cigar City, 7venth Sun and more, before shifting gears to a more intimate and human story.
“As we moved forward, we realized that these start-ups were where we were going to find the story,” said Irvin. “That’s where people are putting everything on the line – a dream on the line – and you don’t know what the outcome is going to be.”
Largely devoted to two stories within the craft beer scene, the film follows both Danny Robinson, a Maryland brewery owner whose success has brought him in over his head into a trademark dispute, and the young trio behind The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company, who hope to reignite the fallen steel town of Braddock, PA. It’s a series of ups and downs and triumphs and trials, as the hard-headed hop-heads adapt and improvise, trying anything to keep the dream alive. The important thing, according to Irvin, was creating a film that could be enjoyed by more than just craft beer lovers.
“It’s not so much about beer as it is about small business and the entrepreneur’s journey,” said Irvin. “We were struck by the enthusiasm and the passion.”
With a sold-out world premier at the DC Independent Film Festival last month followed by an equally sold-out showing at the Atlanta Film Festival, Irvin looks forward to bringing the film to Florida for the Sarasota Film Festival, which will be screening Blood, Sweat, and Beer on Apr. 12.
“We’re really excited. We’ve heard great things,” said Irvin regarding the festival. As to Florida’s craft beer scene, “Florida is definitely experiencing a big boom in the craft beer scene.”
Blood, Sweat and Beer screens Apr. 12 at 2:45pm in Regal Hollywood 20.