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Craig Noble: How Craft Beer Took Over My Life

CRAFT is coming to Vancouver on Tuesday June 24, it follows the journey of Craig Noble on a coast to coast adventure in craft brewing. Here now, Noble writes for Eater on the making of the movie and the brave new world of craft beer.
Craig Noble-1-Edit.jpg
I love beer. Or to be more specific, good craft beer. The making of CRAFT was a two and a half year personal journey into beer. Like my previous films I got deeply involved in my subjects and assumed the lifestyle of the film. Luckily for me CRAFT is about refreshing and delicious beer.

Three years ago, after touring around Asia for a few months I came back to North America to start a new project. I wasn't entirely sure that I was going to do, another film, some kind of photojournalism piece, or start up a food and booze business, but I was primed for a new direction. I landed in SoCal and decided to do a San Diego Brewery tour, not the worst idea I've ever had. In The Blind Lady, a San Diego taproom, I committed to a craft beer film, my third feature documentary. From there on it's been all beer, all the time.

CRAFT has taken me to over 100 of the best breweries in North America and I have been fortunate to drink some of the most interesting beer in the world. For someone who loves to eat and drink, the making of CRAFT has been an all-consuming, beery adventure, which has ended in me settling in to the role as brew master in the heart of Railtown at the Postmark Brewery, something I never imagined when I started shooting.

Like other burgeoning craft beer cities Vancouver is experiencing exponential growth and striving to meet demand although it is nowhere near the likes of San Diego, which now has 85+ existing breweries with another 20 or so in the works this year, or Portland where craft beer consumption represents over 50% of the entire market share. It will be interesting to see what kind of beer scene will develop here and who will grow and thrive and who will not. But one thing that is certain is that the growth in beer culture locally will result in an increase in consumer awareness and demand for quality and consistent craft beer. Not all craft beer is created equal and those brewers that are committed to quality and the improvement of their craft will be rewarded. In turn our local beer culture will mature and Vancouver will develop into a world-class beer city. 

Craig Noble-24-Edit.jpgI started shooting at Crannog Ales in Sorrento, BC and undertook my brewery apprenticeship with Brian and Rebecca. I attended beer school at the American Brewers Guild in Vermont and earned my cicerone certification (essentially a beer sommelier).  In February of 2013 I hit the road in search of some of the best craft breweries in North America, starting in Portland, Oregon. After returning home to Vancouver and editing some of the footage the film began to come together. It was an exploration of the craft beer industry from small nanos to huge regional craft breweries that looked at how they were dealing with the voracious demand of consumers while maintaining quality amid explosive growth.

After finishing the film in March, the April western tour kicked off in Portland, followed by Denver, Ft. Collins, Austin, Oakland and San Diego.  The film is doing well and the interpretations of the Farmhouse Ale by brewers included with the tour have been great.  I gave them the opportunity to personalize my recipe, using the Farmhouse Ale as a guideline.  We brewed a collaboration beer with Coalition in Portland, Funkwerks in Ft Collins, Hops and Grain in Austin, Captain Lawrence in New York, Allagash in Maine, Haymarket in Chicago and St-Ambroise in Montreal.  Each batch has been very different, and gives the audience a chance to drink what they are seeing on screen. The collaborations has given me an appreciation of what I call "brewhouse terroir," or the regional differences in brewing styles and conditions.  

At the conclusion of the Western tour I made my way back to Vancouver and the next day started the build out of Postmark Brewery. Once construction was completed I brewed nine batches of beer; it was an intense month and a half, but it was worth it as Postmark will be set to launch mid-June with five beers on tap by the end of the month - including Farmhouse Ale.  We'll be showing the film at the Rio Theatre on June 24 and we'll feature some of the best breweries in the province pouring during and after the pre-tasting event. The Rio is the only cinema in Vancouver that allows audiences to drink while watching films, and quite frankly to have audiences watch CRAFT without a delicious craft beer in hand would be cruel and uncivilized.

Craft beer is here to stay and once you cross over there is no going back. There are a lot of people who like their flawless bland American adjunct lager, but thankfully more and more people are opening their beer minds and supporting their local craft brewers in their pursuit to produce flavorful interesting beer. It has been an honor and a pleasure to make this film with some of the most interesting and inspired brewers in the world. I'm looking forward to sharing this beertastic voyage with my hometown crew on the 24th.
Drink Better Beer.
· CRAFT[Facebook site]
· Postmark Brewing [Official Site]
· Rio Theatre CRAFT Premiere [Official Site]
· All Craft Beer Coverage [EVAN]