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Arts & Culture

Watch 'The Beer Jesus From America' With Stone's Greg Koch On Friday

Stone Brewing
Stone Brewing's co-founder Greg Koch at the 19th century gasworks that was to be transformed into the first American craft brewery in Germany in the documentary "The Beer Jesus From America."

Documentary filmmaker Matt Sweetwood will also be on YouTube live stream

San Diego currently has more than 150 craft breweries. One of the earliest, and now one of the largest and most successful of these is Stone Brewing Co. On Friday, you have an online opportunity to watch the documentary “The Beer Jesus From America” about Stone co-founder Greg Koch, with Koch and filmmaker Matt Sweetwood.

Stone Brewing knows how to host an event, even if it's a virtual one. So in this time of sheltering at home Stone will be hosting a screening of the documentary "The Beer Jesus From America" on its YouTube Channel.

Watch ‘The Beer Jesus From America’ With Stone’s Greg Koch On Friday
Listen to this story by Beth Accomando.
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Sweetwood tells us in the opening of his documentary that he felt compelled to tell the story of Koch when the man was known as the "Beer Jesus from America" (a name taken from a German newspaper headline) decided to open a brewery in Germany.

Riding his bike through German streets, Koch comments, "So what I bring is choice, and now we are here in Europe to remind the average person that you have classical music, but you don’t have rock and roll as it relates to beer and what we’re bringing is rock 'n' roll."

Koch spent millions to become the first American craft brewer to build, own and operate his own brewery in Europe. The documentary shows how it all got off to a great start but then kept getting slowed by the challenges of turning an old gasworks plant into a modern brewery and restaurant as well as by permit issues and other obstacles.

Stone Brewing
Greg Koch (with scissors) celebrating a milestone in Stone Brewing's history in the documentary "The Beer Jesus From America."

Koch recounts at one point that no one in Germany ever told him not to build a brewery, but they all kept asking why he wanted to. The documentary tries to get at that answer by looking to Koch's personal life and the back story of Stone Brewing. Both of which seem driven by an unwillingness to just go along with the status quo or what's easiest or what's cheapest.

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The easy-going smartly shot documentary follows Koch’s sometimes trouble-laden journey to build a brewery in a remote town outside Berlin. Sweetwood, who spent four years shooting the film and previously made the documentary "Beerland," casually injects himself into the film providing a narration that is initially objective and later becomes more engaged with the story he's telling as Koch pulls the filmmaker into his passion project.

Koch refers to his dream as well as himself as being "romantic" and then pauses for a second and adds or "perhaps foolish." He's a charismatic person and the film shows him as someone driven by both passion and vision. The film ends with the successful opening of the brewery and doesn't include an update about the fact that Stone no longer owns the Berlin Brewery, which is now run by BrewDog, friends of the Stone Brewing family, who were willing to continue in Koch's vision to expand craft beer in Germany.

The screening of "The Beer Jesus From America" hosted by Stone Brewing on its YouTube channel will include live stream commentary and post-film Q&A with Koch and Sweetwood. It begins at 6 p.m. (PST).