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The Crafty Irish film review

★★★

Directed by: #PauricBrennan

Written by: #PauricBrennan


 

Full disclosure: I am a self-confessed beer geek. IPAs, Stouts, Sours and Craft Lagers take up a ludicrous amount of my fridge space, and I cannot stop ordering more. Consequently, The Crafty Irish, a documentary charting the stories of four Irish craft breweries and their owners, is right up my street. The detailed insight of these brewing professionals will be fascinating to viewers who share a similar interest, but may be too technical for non-craft beer enthusiasts.


The Crafty Irish is an intensely technical and specialised documentary. The film is formed from four separate interviews with Irish brewers who enthusiastically delve deep into their profession, and speak to viewers with an assumption that they share the same knowledge and understanding of brewing. Those who do will find it fascinating and exciting to hear their perspectives and their connected quest to establish a craft scene in a nation that previously lacked one. Those who do not are likely to be perplexed by much of the film, and may find the amount of technical jargon incomprehensible, which is unfortunate as the interviewees are clearly passionate and experts in their field.


The film’s editing doesn’t particularly make the watch any easier. The interviews with the brewers are long-shot and single location, with occasional montages of the brewing process the only breaks the audience receive over the near 2-hour running time. Again, to those not fully on-board with the topic, the lack of stimulating imagery will inevitably lead to audience-tune out. The candid presentation of the interviews, with speech imperfections and conversational dialogue left in, places viewers in the room with the interviewees – which is a risky but largely successful choice by director Pauric Brennan. It suggests this is a film designed for those with an already-established understanding of brewing who enter these ‘conversations’ with an appropriate level of familiarity.


The subject’s life stories however will entertain and appeal to any viewer. Whether it’s recovering from the financial crash, travelling back to Ireland from the US, starting a family-led brewery, or basing the beer on the story a local Irish legend – the history of the breweries and the men who created them brings a relatability the film desperately requires. Their insight into business is also invigorating – with the battle for shelf-space against the Guinness monolith and both the damage and potential brought about by the pandemic being much more applicable and engaging chapters of the film. Hearing these sides of the story engages viewers regardless of their expertise, and hammers home the importance of the scene’s existence.


There are further imperfections with the film that are relatively minor issues. The film’s sound quality is lacking, and presentation is a little too amateurish at times with visible microphones and editing glitches lazily unremoved. These do not distract from the film’s purpose to inform, but could have easily been rectified for a more polished final product.


Designed by beer-lovers for beer-lovers, The Crafty Irish is rather like the craft beer scene itself – difficult and inaccessible for many but fascinating and engrossing for those committed. As it is designed primarily to educate and inform on a certain sector of the craft scene, the lack of hand-holding is more acceptable and the specialised language understandable – but less-educated viewers should be aware going in that this documentary is not designed for beginners. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to research UK-Ireland alcohol import laws…



 

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