Monday, December 16, 2013

Video: The Fourth Tier

Bite and Booze and Tin Roof
The Fourth Tier
After Prohibition, which was repealed just over 80 years ago by the 21st Amendment, the model of choice for states to regulate the alcohol industry was the three tier system. In a nutshell, this created a framework where producers and suppliers of alcohol worked independently from wholesalers and distributors as well as the retailers in the form of bars and liquor stores. Creating a gap between the breweries and the bars was meant to eliminate some of the problems that led to the creation of the 18th Amendment, also known as Prohibition. Vertical integration, or one company controlling the manufacturing of alcohol and the bars where people consume the alcohol, they said, led to over-consumption and tainted products.

Still today, alcohol is treated differently than any other product. It is the only consumer good to be made illegal and then legal again by separate amendments to the freaking CONSTITUTION of the United States! The three tier system remains as an effective tool to regulate the industry, but it seems to have some side effects as well. Many states have different versions of how the three tier system is implemented, but I don't want to get into all those details right now.

This fall I had a the opportunity to produce a teaser to a possible feature length documentary called "The Fourth Tier." Mostly unrecognized by any sort of talks about the industry, the fourth tier represents the consumers who actually drink the product. This tier is essential for a viable industry, and is actually the most regulated out of any of the tiers. Still, in the United States these days, it is hard to argue that it isn't the Fourth Tier that is winning. Consumers, especially of beer, are being met with more choices, variety, brands, styles, and quality than ever before. Unlike other industries, the regulatory framework in the beer industry has created a thriving marketplace for small companies to compete with the big boys. This video explores the relationships between the producers, wholesalers, and retailers of beer as well as the effects that those relationships have on consumers. Alright, I've said too much. Just watch!

If you have any questions or if you want to contribute financially to making a feature length version of The Fourth Tier, email me at As of now we have commitments from a few individuals to take the project to the next phase and we are looking for more. Please let me know if you are interested in helping and I'll get you more information!

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