A sense of doubt seemed to resonate over this film. It felt as though it took 16 years to finish. People even began to second guess its release. With filming originally beginning in early 2010, in hopes of a small preview during Philly Beer Week 2010, expectations were originally set to have the entire film released for Beer Week 2011, which never occurred. But, three years later, Philly can proudly say that it finally has a beer documentary to backup its claim as the best beer drinking city in the country (or the world, as Casey Parker boldly states on camera).
For a one-man operation, putting out a feature film in three years is actually a reasonable time-frame, especially when you consider that the guy making the film works multiple jobs as a bartender at various locations. That guy, Michael Ryan Lawrence, after multiple trips to Los Angeles and countless hours spent in his bedroom office covered in walls of sticky notes, has finally seen his goal come to fruition. Having premiered at a red-carpet extravaganza at World Café Live, Beeradelphia is officially here and a perfect complement to everything that makes this city so great.
The film itself is a history lesson on beer. It’s a history lesson on Philadelphia beer. It’s a tribute to the culture that surrounds the beer. It’s an ode to homebrewing. It’s everything this magazine is, wrapped up and put into the 90+ minutes of cinematic glory that Philly deserves. It’s a film that will go on to show the rest of the world that we truly are the premier drinking city.
All the voices you would expect to see in a documentary based on Philly are there. Frequent appearances by a young and energetic looking Jack Curtin (who even claims to have forgone his recluse nature and trekked into the city), Victory Brewmaster/Owner Bill Covaleski, Historian Rich Wagner, and archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern are there along with cameos by a slew of bar owners, brewers, and celebrities of the culture. Lesser-expected faces such as Jim Koch of Sam Adams and Charlie Papazian of the Brewers Association also grace the camera with insight and love for this great city.
Having been filmed over the course of three years, there is also a sense of nostalgia with glimpses of loved bars that are no longer with us such as Swift Half and brewers that have since changed homes, like Ben Potts representing Dock Street and Gerard Olsen serving as assistant brewer at McKenzie Brew House. Everyone may look younger as well, but overall, this film still captures what craft beer is to the city of Philadelphia and inadvertently shows how the culture has continued to develop and grown immensely over the past few years.
Three years later, Beeradelphia was worth the wait; a staple for any local beer lover and the nail in the coffin for anyone who doubted Philly’s reign on top of the beer world. Philadelphia should raise a glass to Michael Ryan Lawrence and commend him on time well spent.