The Academy Awards just celebrated the best films of 2020, but the race for 2021 has already begun. On April 13, a Long Beach filmmaker released a new documentary called "Brewmance," which features local families and local breweries as it explores the business of beermaking.
Naples native and documentarian Christo Brock wrote, produced, and directed "Brewmance." Brock was the associate producer on the Academy Award-winning documentary "The Long Way Home" and he was nominated for a James Beard Award for "Into the Fire:Trio," about the work of renowned chef Grant Achatz.
Intrigued by the world of small batch brewing, Brock visited a meeting of the Long Beach Home Brewers Club in 2016. He described the group as “warm and welcoming” and “serious about their beer.” Through the club, he met Dan Sundstrom, a homebrewer intent on opening a craft brewery with his son, Jesse Sundstrom. Dan happily agreed to share their journey with a film crew.
“I was of course excited!” Dan Sundstrom said. “The idea of our little brewery getting national exposure or even international! I was gung ho.”
Dan Sundstrom also connected Brock to Dan Regan, another local enthusiast in the early stages of a brewery launch. In late 2016, Brock began filming the two groups, as the Sundstrom family worked to build Ten Mile Brewing Company in Signal Hill, and Dan Regan, Eric McLaughlin, and Michael Clements laid the groundwork for Liberation Brewing Company in Bixby Knolls. Over the next 18 months, Brock accumulated more than 600 hours of film.
“I had a rough idea of the arc — home-brewers opening up their craft breweries — that I knew would make for a basic spine,” Brock said. “But my style of filmmaking requires me to wait for things to happen.”
Dan Sundstrom said he enjoyed the process, even though he had no voice in how the footage would be used.
“We became great friends with Christo and the crew and had fun traveling to GABF [Great American Beer Festival] several times, meeting in the Sierras, eating great meals, drinking great beers, having deep, meaningful discussions, and basically living and sharing life together (and getting into trouble!) for a couple years,” Sundstrom said.
The film shows the difficulties that result from turning a home-based hobby into a large-scale enterprise. Both groups struggled with site renovations, equipment malfunctions, and personal drama, but their passion allowed them to push through the pain and launch their businesses.
Brock and his team planned a sneak screening of "Brewmance" at the Art Theatre of Long Beach last March, but COVID-19 made in-person attendance impossible. After waiting a year for theaters to reopen, Brock decided to release "Brewmance" for on-demand viewing ($4.99 for 48 hours) at www.brewmancemovie.com. The film’s opening received a perfect score (100%) from the film critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
Dan Sundstrom praised "Brewmance" and said he has received “many messages from all over the country from other brewers and breweries stating how much they enjoyed the film.” As COVID restrictions lift, Sundstrom said he looks forward to film fans visiting Ten Mile Brewing.
Ten Mile Brewing Company’s original taproom is located at 1136 E. Willow St.; a smaller, satellite site is now open at Steelcraft Bellflower. Liberation Brewing Company is located at 3630 Atlantic Ave.