'The Beer Jesus of America' Follows Stone Brewing's Journey to Make American-Style Craft Beer in Germany
Stone Brewing co-founder and current executive chairman Greg Koch is apparently not comfortable with being called “Beer Jesus.” Yes, he has long been the most visible figure behind the company he co-created in 1996, a brewery that has gone on to be one of the largest, most influential, most vocal, and most consistently high-quality in the craft beer industry—but he doesn’t consider himself a “savior.” Still, he has taken big risks, and in 2014, the brand embarked on possibly its biggest, announcing a plan to open a full-scale production brewery in Berlin, Germany. Now, the highs and lows of that undertaking are being turned into a feature-length documentary called, somewhat humorously, The Beer Jesus of America.
Beer trade site Brewbound broke the news of the forthcoming documentary—which is currently in post-production—yesterday, apparently to the surprise of Sweetwood Films: The production company behind the flick has since pulled the film’s website to keep further info from leaking before, ostensibly, a more formal launch.
However, the 100-minute documentary is still listed on Sweetwood Film’s website which explains, “If a German beer revolution has begun, Stone Brewing Co. is clearly smack-dab in the middle of it, attempting to be the first Americans to open a craft brewery in Germany. In order for this pioneer mission to succeed, Stone’s CEO Greg Koch (starring Himself) his team, and a determined group of German Craft Brewers must challenge the established beer-culture and continue to win over the hearts, minds, and taste-buds of future beer-drinkers.”
The project is directed by Matt Sweetwood, who previously covered the beer world with Beerland, which documented an American’s journey through German beer culture. For this project, a Stone spokeswoman told Brewbound that the brewery agreed to let Sweetwood shadow Stone throughout the Stone Berlin building process, but that the brewery itself was not involved in the production of the movie. Beyond that, the Stone rep only said, “We don’t have much to share just yet, but we’re excited for its release.”
Spoiler alert: Despite numerous delays, Stone Berlin opened in September 2016. But that’s a fact anyone who’s a big enough beer fan to want to see this movie already knows. Instead, the movie will show “the struggles, accomplishments, and heart of this bold endeavour from its construction, opening day, and beyond.”
The movie will reportedly debut this September with initial showings taking place on the festival circuit.
The tale of Stone’s expansion in Germany has a deeper underlying thread as well. For generations, the global beer scene has been primarily influenced by German-style beers: The vast majority of beer sales are pale lagers that can trace their roots back to this part of Europe. But as craft beer continues to go international, American-style beers are infiltrating almost every part of the world, a revolution that threatens to dethrone Germany as the de facto beer king. If that trend continues, The Beer Jesus of America could also be a documentary about one of the more pivotal moments in the history of beer—whether Koch wants to call himself a “Beer Jesus” or not.