Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Notes From The Event: 'Crafting A Nation' Screening

Last night I had the good fortune of being near an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema which was premiering a new documentary titled Crafting A Nation.

Now, for one thing, if any of you have never been to an Alamo, I must say it's an amazing little experience. I mean, how has it taken until now to make a chain of movie theaters which serves craft brews to you while you're watching a film? The idea is just perfect. The place has 32 taps, all of them to local, national, and even some international craft beers. So you can show up early, grab a beer before you enter the theater, and then throughout the screening you can order more rounds and even food to be brought to you during the show. Genius.

So a friend of mine (and fellow beer connoisseur) and I went to the premiere and had a grand ol' time. Since the film was about the rise and struggle of local craft breweries, the local brews on tap (including Yonkers Brewing Company, Captain Lawrence, and Peekskill Brewery) were only $3/pint. Needless to say I stuck with those. When we got there we each had a pint of Yonkers IPA.

Some quick thoughts on Yonkers IPA: I really thought it was impressive for its simplicity. Yonkers has adopted the slogan, "Start Here... End Here", which means they like to craft simple, rather sessionable beers that are tasty, but nothing so overbearing that you can only have one due to the intense flavor or ABV, then have to move on to something lighter. They are those light, refreshing craft beers. Their IPA had a nice rusty amber color. It had a subtle citrus nose and a sweet, not-overbearing-in-the-least citrusy hop taste. I liked it because that's all it was: just a simple IPA with enough flavor to be enjoyable. 70/100

So we entered the theater with IPAs in hand and before the film started we were told that the co-founders of Yonkers Brewing Co. were there (something I had read was going to happen), as well as the director of the film (something which was a nice little surprise). There was to be a Q&A session with those people after the screening, which had me pretty hyped.

The film itself was a beautiful depiction of the craft brewing scene. The backbone of the film focused on an up-and-coming Colorado-based brewer, Black Shirt Brewing. It detailed all the blood sweat and tears that went into transforming a space into a brewery. It really put the effort that it takes to get something of that magnitude off the ground. It's not just about having good beer. You have to shell out nearly all the money you have to pay for a space and distribution of beer, and put a lot of back-breaking work into making the brewery, well, a brewery. There were also interviews with already-started craft breweries like 4 Hands and Russian River. Heck, they even had an interview with Jim Koch of Sam Adams and some of the guys from Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada. They all offered insight into the post-construction world of brewing on a small scale and making it a local entity. The film was inspiring as well as humbling.

During the film I ordered a Peekskill Simple Sour. Some notes on that: It was quite good for a sour. Lemony sour taste up front that was quite refreshing, and a rather creamy mouthfeel from the malts. I thought it was impressive and a bold move from a local brewer. I'd definitely recommend it if you're ever in the Westchester area of New York. 90/100

After the film the director, Thomas Kolicko, fielded a few questions including, "How are Black Shirt Brewing Company doing today?" (apparently quite well) and, my favorite, "Why did you show such poor hop harvests in the film?" This particular question came from a man whose family owns a good-sized hop farm.

Then Kolicko held a panel discussion about how Yonkers Brewing Co. got started, what their mission was, and what some the biggest obstacles were in their journey to becoming successful. Though they're still working on the space they're based in, they plan to open up their tasting room in early 2014. Color me excited!

As a little parting gift, all the people in the audience were given a gift card for a free growler and growler fill at a local grill with over 100 beers on tap called Pinch. I was not complaining.

And that was the experience. Craft beer events are always a treat, whether it's a simple tasting event at a brewery or something special like this screening of Crafting A Nation. I always recommend being on the lookout for fun local events like these so you can get out there and be immersed in the craft beer scene.

Until next time, cheers!


[Above photos via (in order):, Untappd user Dave,,]

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