DCIFF '15: "Blood, Sweat, and Beer" Review

It would be easy to dismiss a documentary about beer, or think that it would be best displayed in the background of a fraternity party. While “Blood, Sweat, and Beer” does make you want to grab a cold one, directors Chip Hiden and Alexis Irvin have crafted a film that’s more about the American dream, dedication to a burgeoning trade, and following your passion no matter the cost. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or not, this documentary speaks to everyone on some level. 

The film follows two main stories. In Braddock, PA, a trio of 23 year olds start The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company against all odds. Braddock, a run down former steel town, has suffered from years of abandonment and a population decrease. The young men hope that their brewery will be a beacon of hope for the city’s revitalization. While that lofty goal sounds great, the struggle to see the brewery come together finds them working around the clock with little to no income. It’s do or die for them, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that investors have put in the company has to be paid back.

In Ocean City, Maryland we’re introduced to Danny Robinson. Robinson is a brewer whose business struggles to get sales on the boardwalk on a regular day, but  is now in a nasty trademark lawsuit battle. The filmmakers track his story over the course of a year, from the storefront opening to his final court date. Robinson’s underdog story is perhaps the emotional core of the film as he continues to try and run his business with the mammoth suit hovering over him. Yet his resolve to keep pressing forward is what the American workforce is built on.  

Towards the end, the film struggles to stay on track. It dips into the realm of women in the craft brewing industry. While it’s a worthy topic to explore, it comes out of no where and is gone just as quickly as it appears. While it certainly doesn’t derail the film, it would have been great to learn more and have it weaved throughout the film or not touched at all.

Coming off of their debut documentary, “The Dream Share Project”, Hiden and Irvin  have managed to infuse their passion for people following their dreams with their love for craft beers in their latest  project. Ultimately,  “Blood, Sweat, and Beer” is an informative documentary about craft brewing through the lens of brewers trying to earn a living. “Blood, Sweat, and Beer” plays at the DC Independent Film Festival March 1st at 2:40PM

Rating: B-

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.