New Indie Film Explores San Francisco’s Pioneering Role In American Craft Beer Movement

By Jared Stutts

San Francisco, CA—It’s not only the wine industry that has deep roots in Northern California. In fact, if there were to be an official drink of San Francisco, history provides a strong argument that it should be beer. That story is told in a new independent film, “Brewers by the Bay,” which is in production at craft breweries now operating within the city limits of San Francisco.

The beer industry’s roots in the city go back to the days of the forty-niners. As the Gold Rush brought hordes of new settlers here to build what became the city of San Francisco, the demand for “liquid gold” ran high. By 1852, the city’s 36,000 inhabitants supported more than 350 saloons. The Adam Schuppert Brewing Company, established in 1847 as the first brewery in California, led the way for more than 100 breweries within the city limits that have satisfied the needs of thirsty San Franciscans over the years since the Gold Rush.

Now, in the 21st century, a revolution in micro and craft brewing is converging with other high profile food and drink trends—organic foods and beverages, artisanal breads and cheeses, and the locavore food movement—strengthening San Francisco’s claim to be the “mother ship” for a vibrant new 21st century culture based on healthy, local, diverse, artisanal food and drink products— including beer.

That is the story told in Strike 13 Productions’ new film, “Brewers by the Bay.”

Strike 13 Productions, a local film company established in October of 2011, captures the story of beer’s past, present, and future in San Francisco by telling the personal stories of a remarkable group of brewmasters and owners whose cooperative business vision has made them friends and collaborators. Rather than employing an aggressive capitalistic model of cutthroat corporate competition, these brewmasters collaborate with one another and with local leaders in the locavore food movement to build a strong local craft brewing industry that now can offer beer drinkers some of the best and most diverse artisan beers in the world.

For example, the film’s director, Jared Stutts, recently accompanied Zambo on a late afternoon trip across town from his brewery, to Hog Island Oyster Company’s restaurant at the acclaimed Ferry Plaza. The purpose: to eat some oysters and collect the discarded shells that would form the unique flavor base for 21st Amendment’s seasonal craft beer, called Oyster Point Oyster Stout.

“Brewers by the Bay,” Strike 13 Productions’ first documentary film, features as its narrator Brenden Dobel, the brewmaster of San Francisco’s ThirstyBear Brewing Company, a micro-brewery producing organic beers in its downtown San Francisco brewpub. There, aficionados can sample a wide variety of craft beers while tasting local cheeses, nibbling authentic Spanish tapas, and watching exceptional flamenco dancers. This is not your grandfather’s brewery.

Dobel introduces viewers to his brewmaster colleagues at eight other breweries, mostly quite small, producing beer within San Francisco’s city limits, who help him to explain the history and vibrant contemporary culture of local craft beer.

“I do think it’s a fantastic idea to document the San Francisco beer history,” said Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing Company. Carpenter is a veteran of the San Francisco beer community, who has been brewing for Anchor for 41 years.

“Documenting this scene and what’s happening in this current craft beer revolution is really important—for my kids to look back and see how we got here. That will be entertaining,” says Kushal Hall, brewmaster at Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, located near the Giants’ stadium south of Market Street. It will be “something to have a pint while watching,” Kushal concludes.

Filming for “Brewers by the Bay” officially commenced in April of 2012 and is proceeding quickly. Strike 13 Productions expects to complete post-production and have the film in distribution by late summer of 2012. Strike 13’s Director/Producer, Jared Stutts, plans to follow “Brewers by the Bay” with more films that explore unexamined niches of San Francisco and Bay Area local history in visual storytelling. For Stutts, there is no point in making a film unless it both entertains and takes the viewers into new terrain.

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Contact Info

Company: Strike 13 Productions
Contact: Jared Stutts