Documentaries can sometimes be challenging for a reviewer because, frankly, when people watch movies such as these, they are already interested in the topic. It's like asking a vegetarian to watch a film about how yummy beef can be. As stated during this movie, from the outside, looking in, things can seem kind of boring if you aren't interested in the topic. Does that mean unless you're really into craft beer, you won't necessarily like this flick from writer, director Pauric Brennan? Not at all because there's more to this documentary than brewing. Sure, brewing is the backbone of the story, but there's much more to "The Crafty Irish." Much more indeed.
This film introduces viewers to a handful of folks who run four breweries. I'm sure you've guessed where these breweries are from the title. As expected, "The Crafty Irish" lets these guys tell their stories, and believe me, there's ample time - but what really shines up this indie documentary are the stories and histories of the group themselves. This film aims not to bore you with the technical details of beer making but to tell the stories of the featured guests and their breweries. There's a lot that is covered, ranging from history straight through to the creation of company logos. I think what I'm trying to write is that "The Crafty Irish" is more about the people than the beer. This is a character-driven nonfiction, with a backbone of brewing beer holding it all together. Even for a guy like me who had never really thought twice about making beer, there was something for me to see here. And for that, "The Crafty Irish" is easy to recommend.
Technically, "The Crafty Irish" boasts some spit and polish equal to most big-budget documentaries. It's all put together in an easy-to-follow format, and honestly? It played across my screen quite nicely but make no mistake... it's pretty dense. The conversations range from the personal, which I really enjoyed, straight through to the difficulties with distribution - including trying to inch into pubs where the "big guys" don't like it when the little guys try and take away their shelf space. So to speak. A lot of ground to cover for sure and the length of this film is a direct result.
Honestly? In my humble opinion, "The Craft Irish" was a tad long - especially for this type of film. On the other hand, for those interested in craft brewing and craft breweries, the length may be absolutely no problem at all. But don't get me wrong, because of the excellent pacing via the edit, Brennan's doc never feels ridiculously long, and I never felt like hitting the FF button - but I did notice some viewing fatigue by the time I hit the 1:40 mark. Nothing major, but present nonetheless.
At the end of the day? I appreciated the more personal aspects of this film, and because of them, I ended up learning a little more about craft brewing than I expected to. Even for people like me, there was a lot to enjoy here. If you happen to be into craft brewing, I can honestly write you will probably rate this movie a little higher than I did. No question, and let me leave you with this. The craft brewing industry in Ireland is slow-moving, but this documentary is a great way to raise awareness. For me, a solid three and a half stars are nothing to sneer at, and "The Crafty Irish" has earned each and every star.