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Beer Town: Craft beer gets a close-up in ‘Drinking Buddies’

“Kate and Luke work together at a craft brewery.” So begins the synopsis of “Drinking Buddies,” a new movie starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston that features scenes shot on location at Revolution Brewery in Chicago.

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Magnolia Pictures – Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are 'Drinking Buddies' and sleeping buddies.

Whatever you think of this hip romantic comedy directed by small-budget “mumblecore” main man Joe Swanberg, it feels like a major score for craft beer.

A Time magazine Money & Business story suggested that “Drinking Buddies” could “go down in cinematic history as the ‘Sideways’ of the Chicago craft beer scene.” And in interviews, Swanberg, who’s a home brewer and a beer geek, has talked about the connections between indie filmmaking and craft brewing.

Instead of out-and-out product placement, Swanberg begged area breweries for samples and swag to feature in the film. Besides beer from Revolution, good stuff from Bell’s, Half Acre, Founders and Three Floyds shows up on screen.

Revolution’s tasting room and brew house are the backdrop for Wilde and Johnson’s workplace friendships and flirtations. When they are changing out a keg or cleaning out a mash tun, they look a lot like the brewery people I know. And the cast really seems to enjoy drinking beer, sometimes too much.

Even if “Drinking Buddies” is the most craft beer-focused film in my memory, there are plenty of other movies that feature beer. Among them, the miscreant Broken Lizard comedy “Beerfest,” the old Bob and Doug McKenzie vehicle “Strange Brew,” Guy Maddin’s wonderfully weird “The Saddest Music in the World,” with Isabella Rossellini walking around on prosthetic glass legs filled with beer, and silly stinkers like “Beer” and “Beer League.”

The premise of the new comedy by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (“Shaun Of The Dead”/“Hot Fuzz”), “The World’s End,” is the reunion of five school friends who set out to re-create an epic 10 pub crawl they failed to finish when they were younger, only to find out that their hometown has been turned into a strangely unfamiliar place.

No spoilers here. But suffice it to say, there are plenty of English pub jokes, sight gags, downing of pints and boozy banter on the journey to beer oblivion.

Beer Pick: Westbrook One Claw

Westbrook Brewing Co., Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Available on draft and in 12-ounce cans.

Profile: The young Southern brewing couple Edward and Morgan Westbrook could easily star in their own craft beer love story. Their brewery’s year-round One Claw pale ale is made with a hefty dose of malted rye and some of their favorite hop varieties. Unlike some similar beers, the spicy rye is front and center, with plenty of bright citrus and herbal notes in the mix.

Pair with: Spicy rye and bright hop aromas and flavors make for a food-friendly brew that’s great for hot, spicy and complex dishes, grilled meats and barbecue.

— Bob Townsend, AJC Drink blog.

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