UA students shooting documentary on Fayetteville’s craft beer movement

Fayetteville’s craft beer movement recently caught the eye of two journalism students from the University of Arkansas. Seniors Danny Henkel and Alyssa Becker have teamed up to produce a documentary for their graduate-level course in filmmaking. Work is ongoing, but trailers for Tapping the Ozarks were recently posted online.

Henkel said he noticed the emergence of craft beer in Fayetteville and realized it would be a good subject to explore. “More people should know about this,” he thought while enjoying a beer from Fossil Cove last summer.

The son of a home brewer, Henkel remembers developing an appreciation for craft beer at a young age. Watery light lagers were frowned upon in the Henkel home. Becker – who serves as the film’s producer – said she typically looks for local beer when dining out.

So it was fitting that the two would come together on a project like this.

“Two of the best things we can imagine – beer and a documentary,” said Becker.

She and Henkel started working on the film in September and have shot over 16 hours of raw footage. They interviewed many of the area’s professional and amateur brewers through the course of filming.

“It’s such a cool group of people because you can say ‘craft beer’ and they will give you the most amazing sound bites,” said Becker. “Everybody’s so passionate about it.”

The film – which will run approximately 26 minutes when finished – has required more work than the pair ever imagined.

“It’s our spring break and neither of us is going anywhere,” said Henkel, who served as the chief cinematographer on the project. “We spent three or four hours yesterday in an editing booth.”

The experience has been rewarding, however, as the craft beer community has wrapped its arms around the filmmakers. Home brew shop owner Andy Sparks and other local hobbyists made a batch of beer to celebrate the film – Tapping the Ozarks Saison. “I thought that was really sweet,” said Becker.

“Tapping the Ozarks” will officially debut next fall at the Fayetteville Public Library, along with three other student documentaries. There has been some talk of screening the film at one of the local breweries, though nothing has been confirmed at this point.

So what can people expect from the film?

The filmmakers said the documentary will highlight the hard work and passion that has fueled craft beer’s amazing growth in the area over the last few years.

“We’re basically where Boulder, Portland, and Seattle were 15 years ago,” Henkel said. “All of the brewers that I’ve talked to have really praised the people of Fayetteville for being a catalyst for this culture.”

Tapping the Ozarks – A story about Beer (Trailer #2)

Brian Sorensen
Brian is an admitted beer geek, occasional home brewer, and member of the Fayetteville Lovers of Pure Suds (FLOPS). You can follow him on Twitter at @EBSorensen.