WBEZ | Revolution Brewing http://www.wbez.org/tags/revolution-brewing Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Romantic comedy Drinking Buddies gets real about craft beer http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-08/romantic-comedy-drinking-buddies-gets-real-about-craft-beer-108497 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/drinking%20buddies.jpg" title="Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson hang out the Chicago way, in Drinking Buddies (photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)" /></div></div><p>In some ways, director Joe Swanberg has stepped up his movie making game with <em><a href="https://www.magpictures.com/drinkingbuddies/#">Drinking Buddies</a></em>, a new romantic comedy about love and beer opening this weekend.</p><p>He cast established stars from American independent film (Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston) and television (Jake Johnson of <em>New Girl</em>). He even got studio money and decent distribution for the flick.</p><p>But in many ways, the film is all about Swanberg staying true to the form he&rsquo;s evolved over more than a dozen feature films.</p><p>Swanberg&rsquo;s way is actually something of a trend this summer: <em>Drinking Buddies</em> is one of a spate of small, character-driven films (<em>Fruitvale Station, The Spectacular Now</em>) stealing at least the critical, if not the commercial, limelight from the usual blockbuster flicks.</p><p>The film&rsquo;s an ode to Chicago&rsquo;s craft beer scene, wrapped up in a couple of interconnecting love stories. Two friends (Wilde, Johnson) make and drink beer together. Each is in a relationship, one new, one long-standing. Much of the film is a meditation on the nature of love and friendship, why we like some people and love others, and what happens when we start to confuse one state of attraction for the other.</p><p>Lovers and friends do tangle, but dramatic scenes are mostly absent. Instead, relationships are revealed over small mundane acts: eating lunch together at work, sharing a picnic at the beach, packing a suitcase for a trip, and just generally hanging out.</p><p>It is the quality and the intensity of those hangs, like recurring loops in a chain of community, that for me makes <em>Drinking Buddies</em> such a Chicago film. The where is critical too: Swanberg uses many Chicago locations, but he doesn&rsquo;t make them over or change their names. Characters both play and say they&rsquo;re playing pool at the Empty Bottle, and drink beers at Revolution Brewery&rsquo;s tasting room. He also immersed his actors in Chicago&#39;s craft beer scene. He made beer with them at his house, had them drink real beer throughout the film, took them on tours of breweries like Three Floyds in Indiana and had them coached by local brewers (<a href="https://twitter.com/chicagothomas">Kate Thomas</a> of <a href="http://halfacrebeer.com/">Half Acre Beer Company</a> is the film&#39;s official &quot;beer consultant&quot;).</p><p>Swanberg says his need to keep the real &ldquo;real&rdquo; &nbsp;can be chalked up to the &ldquo;aesthetic and mindset&rdquo; he developed studying filmmaking at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, which has a long tradition of documentary.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think specificity always ends up being more than a half-hearted attempt at universality,&rdquo; said Swanberg, &ldquo;So even if you&rsquo;ve never been to Chicago or the Empty Bottle before, all those little bits of specificity over the course of a whole film really add a richness that people can feel even if it&rsquo;s not their city or their subculture.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Swanberg thinks that approach pays off with his characters as well. Rather than using archetypes of the jock or pretty girl, as in <em>The Breakfast Club</em> (which Swanberg calls a &ldquo;great&rdquo; film) he goes for characters who act like &ldquo;real people.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Somehow that will make them more relatable,&rdquo; said Swanberg, &ldquo;Because they&rsquo;ll maybe do one thing or two things in the movie that somebody is like &lsquo;Oh, I actually do that. I&rsquo;ve been in that argument before.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2_t.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick in Drinking Buddies (photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)" /></div><p>The world of <em>Drinking Buddies</em> does feel lived in - or like one you might want to live in. And mainly Swanberg and the actors avoid the formulaic aspects of the rom-com which has proven a particularly deadly trap for female actors (see Jennifer Aniston or Jennifer Lopez or Katherine Heigl, which I talk about in more detail <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels/who-owns-tv-and-katherine">here</a>).</p><p dir="ltr">Swanberg has a proven eye for actors - he was early to the talents of Greta Gerwig (<em>Frances Ha</em>), who lights up his 2008 film <em>Nights and Weekends</em>. He makes similarly good choices in <em>Drinking Buddies</em>. As Luke, Johnson looks straight out of central casting, in his depiction of a largely happy-go-lucky brewer, who values equally the foibles and strengths of his partner Jill (Kendrick). Given more emotional and physical space to play with that in previous roles, Olivia Wilde shines as Kate.</p><p dir="ltr">One detail did nag at me. Johnson&rsquo;s character sports a tattoo that telegraphs Chicago pride, big time: a facsimile of the city&rsquo;s flag which wraps around one of his arms. It&rsquo;s obviously fake, in fact most of the time, it looks just a tiny bit smudged. When I mentioned it, Swanberg suggested that&rsquo;s because I&rsquo;m a &ldquo;specific&rdquo; movie watcher.</p><p dir="ltr">To me it wasn&rsquo;t just a detail out of place, but signalled a small failing of the film. As much as I wanted to like these characters, I never felt like I was totally in their headspace. Some of that can be attributed to their low-key natures. But in all his films, Swanberg has never seemed satisfied with just capturing a scene, but trying to break it open, to reveal somewhere or something new. And that&rsquo;s the step Swanberg, despite his incredible talent, needs to take next: To deepen his characters, such that they don&rsquo;t rely on props like fake tattoos or even real mugs of dark beer, to make their points.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Drinking Buddies opens in Chicago and New York Friday, and across the country August 30th. For more from Joe Swanberg, check out WBEZ&rsquo;s podcast <a href="https://soundcloud.com/strangebrews/3-drinking-buddies-with-joe">Strange Brews.</a></em></p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter and co-host of <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a> a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter</a>,<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn"> Facebook</a> and<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a></em></p></p> Thu, 22 Aug 2013 15:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-08/romantic-comedy-drinking-buddies-gets-real-about-craft-beer-108497 Craft brewers win small victory in Springfield, but the real winners are distributors http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/craft-brewers-win-small-victory-springfield-real-winners-are-distributors-107514 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Revolution Brewing by DR000.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Illinois&#39; booming beer scene will operate a little bit differently after laws governing the industry were tweaked in Springfield this month. The General Assembly approved two measures that subtly change the power structure behind the brewing industry.</p><p>First, the craft brewer&#39;s license was revised to allow small breweries to make more beer. Second, brewers were prohibited from owning any interest in beer or liquor distributors.</p><p>To understand why these changes were made and how they&rsquo;ll impact drinkers in Illinois, it helps to look at how breweries build their business. The cheapest, most basic way is to brew a small amount of beer and sell it directly to a bar or liquor store. That gets actual customers consuming your product and hopefully looking for it again in the future.</p><p>Unfortunately for the fledgling brewer, the three-tier system devised after Prohibition aims to keep beer producers from distributing their product themselves (it also aims to keep brewers from selling directly to the public).</p><p>Despite the intentions of the three-tier system, until 2010 Illinois law was written loosely enough that breweries could legally self-distribute though few actually did.</p><p>However, all that changed when Anheuser-Busch tried to buy out City Beverage distribution. The Illinois Liquor Control Commission blocked the purchase, so Anheuser-Busch filed a federal lawsuit claiming unfair treatment. They claimed allowing Illinois brewers to self-distribute meant they had to allow Anheuser-Busch, an out-of-state brewer to do the same. The ruling that followed prompted the Illinois legislature to revise the Liquor Control Act of 1934 to treat small brewers differently than giants like Anheuser-Busch.</p><p>That led to the craft brewer&rsquo;s license, made law in 2011. It&rsquo;s original form allowed holders to brew up to 15,000 barrels per year and self-distribute up to 7,500 barrels. For reference Goose Island sold 127,000 barrels of beer in 2010 before being purchased by Anheuser-Busch.</p><p>This brings us to a more pricey way new brewers build their business- by opening a brewpub. Brewpubs don&rsquo;t fit neatly within the three-tier system since beer producers are retailing their beverages directly to drinkers. Still, they can be an incredible accelerator for new brewers and beer laws are often written with exceptions for brewpubs.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s the route Josh Deth took when he opened Revolution Brewing in Logan Square in 2010. The two-hour waits for tables proved Revolution could skip the self-distribution step. Soon Deth was working to open a production brewery in a building on Kedzie Avenue that could accommodate a 100,000 barrel brewing system. At the time Illinois law seemed to allow a brewpub owner to also operate a traditional brewery provided they&rsquo;re in different locations.</p><p dir="ltr">However, before the Kedzie facility opened the craft brewer&rsquo;s license was conceived. Though all the terms weren&rsquo;t agreed upon yet, Deth was told it would become a requirement for brewers to also own brewpubs. So he signed up, hoping it would also allow him to make full use of his massive new facility on Kedzie.</p><p dir="ltr">When the final language limited craft brewers&rsquo; output to 15,000 barrels, Deth went ahead with his business plan undeterred. But he redoubled his lobbying efforts to raise the ceiling.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The last thing we should be doing is putting caps on the growth of business in Illinois,&rdquo; Deth said in a recent phone conversation.</p><p dir="ltr">This year he enlisted lobbyists and the Illinois Craft Brewers&rsquo; Guild to revisit the craft brewer&rsquo;s license.</p><p dir="ltr">Their goal was to increase the limit to 200,000 barrels a year. But the bill that passed this week only raised the limit to 30,000.</p><p dir="ltr">Deth says the distributor lobby watered it down.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I have a great relationship with my distributor,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;When they&rsquo;re here picking up my beer we&rsquo;re friends, but then they go to Springfield and work against my interests.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Alcohol distributors in Illinois mostly got what they wanted out of the General Assembly this year. Not only did they molify the craft brewers for the time being without threatening their bigger accounts, they also effectively undermined Anheuser-Busch&rsquo;s efforts to gain a foothold in their tier of the three-tier system in Illinois.</p><p dir="ltr">When Anheuser-Busch attempted to buy City Beverage in 2010, they already owned 30 percent of the distributor.</p><p dir="ltr">That was allowed under the previous law, but no longer: HB2606 explicitly forbids anyone licensed to manufacture beer from owning any interest in a distributor. By contrast, Anheuser-Busch <a href="http://anheuser-busch.com/index.php/our-company/operations/wholesale-operations/" target="_blank">wholly owns distributors in nine other states</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Staff in Senate President Cullerton&rsquo;s office explained that &ldquo;keeping beer distributors independent and not locked into one brand allows for more variety of choices a distributor may sell which allows for more consumer choice at market.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Executive Director of Wine and Spirits Distributors of Illinois, Karin Lijana Matura, applauds the General Assembly for limiting &ldquo;the reach and power of the Industry giants while at the same time responsibly allowing craft brewers and distillers to develop new brands.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Despite the three-tier system&rsquo;s roots in reform, the distribution tier has a rather spotty track record. As recently as 2010 Crain&rsquo;s and the Better Government Association found widespread <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20101120/ISSUE01/311209986/pay-to-play-infects-chicago-beer-market-crains-investigation-finds" target="_blank">evidence of pay-to-play practices</a> in Chicago&rsquo;s beer distribution market. In that article Deb Carey of Wisconsin&#39;s New Glarus Brewing Company, one of the most respected craft breweries in the country, said they pulled out of the Chicago market because retailers and distributors expected them to participate in illegal business practices.</p><p>As for Josh Deth and Revolution Brewing, this year they may remain under the new 30,000 barrel limit, but next year they expect to exceed it. The Kedzie Avenue brewing facility could support 100,000 barrels once fully built out and as long as the demand is there, they plan to keep growing.</p><p>So how do they plan to keep it legal? Since they don&rsquo;t self distribute and the Kedzie facility could be considered a brewpub, they may exist in a grey area. At least until the license is changed again.</p><p><em>Andrew Gill is a web producer for WBEZ. Follow him on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/andrewgill">Twitter</a> or <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/108371235914028306960/?rel=author">Google</a>+.</em></p></p> Tue, 04 Jun 2013 08:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/craft-brewers-win-small-victory-springfield-real-winners-are-distributors-107514 This week, in food events: Next: Childhood launches http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2011-10-19/week-food-events-next-childhood-launches-93301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-19/mariagesfrerestea.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-19/mariagesfrerestea.jpg" title="" width="600" height="399"></p><p><strong>The biggest news in Chicago food today</strong><span class="st">—for some</span><span class="st">—was that <a href="http://www.nextrestaurant.com">Next</a>: Childhood tickets went on sale just after midnight. At 12:26 a.m., the restaurant posted the announcement on their <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Next-Restaurant/114693845229862?sk=wall">Facebook</a> page. As of this morning they sold out the three month run, which begins Sunday.</span></p><p><strong>If you're stuck in the storm tonight anywhere near Logan Square</strong> get yourself to <a href="http://revbrew.com/">Revolution Brewing</a> for the <a href="http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=270530206310661">WBEZ Member Meet Up</a>. You'll find not only shelter and friends, but if you're a member, the first round's on Rev Brew. Yet another benefit of <a href="http://services.chicagopublicmedia.org/site/PageNavigator/ACTIVE%20PAGES%20IN%20USE/Pledge_Portal">membership</a>!</p><p>T<strong>omorrow, <a href="http://www.food52.com/">Food52</a>'s <a href="http://www.food52.com/home/about_merrill">Merrill Stubbs</a> will be in town</strong> for the <a href="http://www.food52.com/blog/2612_party_time">release</a> of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Food52-Cookbook-Winning-Recipes-Exceptional/dp/006188720X?tag=food52-20">The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks</a>. At 1 p.m. Merrill will be at the <a href="http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=108716785905133#%21/event.php?eid=108716785905133">Sur La Table in Naperville</a> doing a cooking demo and signing. At 6 p.m., she heads up to <a href="http://www.tabulatua.com/tabula/product.asp?s%5Fid=0&amp;pf%5Fid=PAAAIADGGJKDKNFO">Tablua Tua in Lincoln Park</a> for potluck party.</p><p>I wish I could be two places at once<span class="st">, </span>because I'll miss Merrill; <strong>also tomorrow night, I'll finally meet Hank Shaw</strong><span class="st">—</span>the James Beard award-winning food blogger, <a href="http://honest-food.net/">Hunter Angler Gardener Cook</a><span class="st">—at his <a href="http://www.vierestaurant.com/">book dinner at Vie</a>.</span> Hank's on a cross-country hunting, gathering, and cooking road trip for his new book, <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hunt-gather-cook-hank-shaw/1100228566?ean=9781605293202&amp;itm=1&amp;usri=hunt%2bgather%2bcook%2bfinding%2bthe%2bforgotten%2bfeast&amp;cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-sKeKUk6WDnY-_-10:1">Hunt Gather Cook</a>.</p><p><strong>On Sunday, Next: Childhood does premiere for dinner</strong>, but my I'll have my <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascinator">fascinator</a> on for tea at the <a href="http://www.greatermidwestfoodways.com/index.php/page/HighTeaBerthaPalmer.html">Greater Midwest Foodways Tea with Bertha Palmer</a> herself<span class="st"> (as channelled by historical actress and author <a href="http://www.lesliegoddard.info/">Leslie Goddard</a></span><span class="st">). We'll have </span><span class="st">tea sandwiches; scones with clotted cream and jam; apple-rhubarb pie; petits fours; and of course, proper tea service. There will also be an food auction featuring concord grape pie and the infamous <a href="http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/THE-PALMER-HOUSE-BROWNIE-50027879">Palmer House Brownies</a> made by Greater Midwest Foodways co-founder (and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2011-10-11/first-rule-mushroom-club-93031">mushroom friend</a>) <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content-categories/95970">Catherine Lambrecht</a>, a blue ribbon-winning pie queen.</span></p><p>Cathy reminded me that Bertha Palmer is often credited with having invented the brownie. According to culinary historians like Cathy, Bertha did not. The recipe existed before Mrs. Palmer, but she may have simply popularized it. However, there is a apricot-glazed, walnut-studded brownie that is said to have been created at the Palmer House in her honor or by her direction. A <a href="http://www.lockwoodrestaurant.com/food_dessert.aspx">version</a> is still served at hotel's restaurant Lockwood.</p><p><span class="st">The <a href="http://www.wbez.org/event/2011-10-23/high-tea-bertha-honor%C3%A9-palmer">tea</a> will be recorded by</span> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/amplified">Chicago Amplified</a>, but really, clotted cream has to be experienced first-hand.</p></p> Wed, 19 Oct 2011 15:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/louisa-chu/2011-10-19/week-food-events-next-childhood-launches-93301