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San Diego craft brewers featured in new documentary series

Six-episode PBS program captures our craft past and present

Cinematographer Steven Moyer sets up a shot surrounded by craft beer ingredients.
Cinematographer Steven Moyer sets up a shot surrounded by craft beer ingredients.

"We just hit 100 breweries in San Diego County." Or so several local media personalities inform us during an opening montage of Kings of the Craft, a six-part documentary premiering tonight, Thursday, May 21, on KPBS at 9 p.m. Later in the first episode, that number is revised to 104, with 46 more declared to be on the way. To give an idea how fast things are moving, the October press release announcing the series counted the number at 80. That on top of 1400 bars and restaurants currently serving a craft beer menu. It's a point well made: the astounding growth of craft brewing in San Diego may not yet have peaked.

Kings had its origins as a short student film, made for a documentary class at SDSU, and its dynamic storytelling style reads young. Music runs throughout, and the camerawork is seldom static, even during talking-head interviews with craft industry leaders. The result is a visually rich, well-paced homage to the city's number one beverage concern, and the first half-hour episode spends much of its time allowing local beer professionals to make a lively case for San Diego as being hallowed ground in a global craft movement.

In one notable scene, a wily Greg Koch, co-founder and CEO of Stone Brewing, paints craft beer as a reaction to macro beer companies prioritizing low cost over quality. While he estimated craft beer only captures 10 percent of the overall beer market, he half-jokingly suggests that whenever someone shows up at a craft brewer's tasting room asking for their lightest beer, it's really a cry for help, asking for someone to show them "the glory, the beauty, that is great beer."

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The six-week series will feature perspectives hulled from established beer purveyors representing Ballast Point, Karl Strauss and AleSmith, as well as new or not-yet-opened breweries including Abnormal, Toolbox, and North Park Beer Company. Each episode will cover a general concept, ranging from brewery collaborations and diversity to craft beer history.

About 20 local beer concerns participated overall, and Producer Raeanne DuPont says that when word got out about the project, several others asked to be included. When asked whether any of the brewers she interviewed showed any concern about the rapid increase of beer producers in a saturated market, DuPont replied, "Their biggest fear isn't that it's going to get congested…they're more worried that breweries will come in and start brewing bad beer."

DuPont, director Ben Moxley, and editor/cinematographer Steven Moyer showed their original student film to producer Eduardo Castro Fonseca, who brought it to KPBS. The group was able to secure a $30K budget from the station and supplement it with another $30K through Kickstarter. Castro Fonseca points out that "profit is not a word used in documentaries," and all the funds were put into production costs.

Kings of the Craft will air Thursday nights at 9 p.m. on KPBS, and will be available for viewing online following the broadcast.

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Cinematographer Steven Moyer sets up a shot surrounded by craft beer ingredients.
Cinematographer Steven Moyer sets up a shot surrounded by craft beer ingredients.

"We just hit 100 breweries in San Diego County." Or so several local media personalities inform us during an opening montage of Kings of the Craft, a six-part documentary premiering tonight, Thursday, May 21, on KPBS at 9 p.m. Later in the first episode, that number is revised to 104, with 46 more declared to be on the way. To give an idea how fast things are moving, the October press release announcing the series counted the number at 80. That on top of 1400 bars and restaurants currently serving a craft beer menu. It's a point well made: the astounding growth of craft brewing in San Diego may not yet have peaked.

Kings had its origins as a short student film, made for a documentary class at SDSU, and its dynamic storytelling style reads young. Music runs throughout, and the camerawork is seldom static, even during talking-head interviews with craft industry leaders. The result is a visually rich, well-paced homage to the city's number one beverage concern, and the first half-hour episode spends much of its time allowing local beer professionals to make a lively case for San Diego as being hallowed ground in a global craft movement.

In one notable scene, a wily Greg Koch, co-founder and CEO of Stone Brewing, paints craft beer as a reaction to macro beer companies prioritizing low cost over quality. While he estimated craft beer only captures 10 percent of the overall beer market, he half-jokingly suggests that whenever someone shows up at a craft brewer's tasting room asking for their lightest beer, it's really a cry for help, asking for someone to show them "the glory, the beauty, that is great beer."

Sponsored
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The six-week series will feature perspectives hulled from established beer purveyors representing Ballast Point, Karl Strauss and AleSmith, as well as new or not-yet-opened breweries including Abnormal, Toolbox, and North Park Beer Company. Each episode will cover a general concept, ranging from brewery collaborations and diversity to craft beer history.

About 20 local beer concerns participated overall, and Producer Raeanne DuPont says that when word got out about the project, several others asked to be included. When asked whether any of the brewers she interviewed showed any concern about the rapid increase of beer producers in a saturated market, DuPont replied, "Their biggest fear isn't that it's going to get congested…they're more worried that breweries will come in and start brewing bad beer."

DuPont, director Ben Moxley, and editor/cinematographer Steven Moyer showed their original student film to producer Eduardo Castro Fonseca, who brought it to KPBS. The group was able to secure a $30K budget from the station and supplement it with another $30K through Kickstarter. Castro Fonseca points out that "profit is not a word used in documentaries," and all the funds were put into production costs.

Kings of the Craft will air Thursday nights at 9 p.m. on KPBS, and will be available for viewing online following the broadcast.

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