Beer Pioneers


Hello, my name is Jay Sheveck. I am an independent filmmaker, freelance beer writer and author of the destination beer guide,The Beer Guppy's Guide to Southern California. I have a passion for history and a strong appreciation of beer.

For many years now I have been methodically piecing together the documentary film titled, Beer Pioneers. This self-produced project began in 1994. The film was originally just a half-hour TV pilot to be shot on a shoestring budget. Once filming began, the breadth of the subject itself turned the "pilot" into an epic-length feature documentary! It certainly wasn't planned that I would still be working on this film for two decades.

So why would I stick with this subject for so long?

Primarily, this project is a labor of love. I love the subject: the rich, incredibly nuanced history of the breweries and brands, and most of all, the people in the brewing industry.

I want the re-telling of this story to be accurate and the witness observations to be truthful--to come directly from the very Pioneers themselves whenever possible. Logistically, this takes a lot of research, preparation, travel, time and money, (money being the least plentiful).

This film is currently in post-production... Coming 2017.

Each time I searched for funding, there were strings attached that would negatively affect either the story or the visuals. After dozens of pitches, I balked, and jumped in with only my own (fairly limited) money and engaged the sweat, time and talents of my friends and family. This is not an approach I would recommend for others, but it is working for me (at the expense of time).

So what is the puropse of making this film?

I'm making this film because it is about a finite subject. The first wave of pioneers – the generation who established and grew this "craft" industry – are aging.  It is a great time for reflection, before we lose them. Once these pioneers are gone, so are their stories. The context of their struggles and successes are lost to the sands of time or diluted by others. This film preserves these stories in their original state forever.

My goal with this documentary is to give these Pioneers the opportunity to share their stories in a collective, contextual medium. Generations to come will be able to appreciate the breadth and intricacies of the events that brought back good beer to the people.

Production is winding down this year, topping 140 interviews, 200 events and locations, and 450 hours of footage. With a little luck, Beer Pioneers will be released in 2017... Cheers!

A film by Jay Sheveck

Beer Pioneers is a multi-part feature documentary that reveals the candid and personal stories of the people behind the revival of craft brewing (the return to traditional brewing methods and use of classic ingredients) in North America and in the United Kingdom. The narrative highlights many of the milestones of the good beer movement from the 1960s to the  present day by re-visiting dozens of famous (and some forgotten) breweries and by exploring the beers, brands and events of historic significance. Through rare and intimate interviews, the stories of the early pioneers' successes and struggles are documented and re-told on-camera--many by the Pioneers themselves.

An epic independent beer documentary...22 years in-the-making!


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