Issue 28

Beer Chat: Magical moments with beer

Beer Chat: Magical moments with beer

There are many correlations between the creation of visual art and craft beer.  The artist starts with a blank canvas and only their imagination as their strongest tool to create images never seen before.  The brewer also starts with a similarly blank canvas and only their imagination to create unique flavors never tasted before.  Craft brewers have long looked to these visual artists for exciting and bold packaging that reflect an appreciation for the hard work and “art” that went into crafting their delicious elixir.  Here are a few of the greats.

 

Chateau Jiahu/Artist: Tara McPherson

Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, Delaware

Tara McPherson is a New York City based artist who was referred to by ELLE Magazine as “the crown princess of poster art”.  Tara’s illustrations have been published in numerous big-time periodicals and she has also created posters for rock bands including such names as Beck, Modest Mouse and the Melvins.

Tara was commissioned to do Dogfish Head’s Chateau Jihau label art.  The creation was a striking image of the back of a beautiful Asian women dressed in nothing but long silk gloves, a floral print wrap around her waist and a Chinese symbol tattooed on the small of her back.  It is sensual and classy all at the same time.  It is a label that requires much more than just a glance.

The beer itself is the third of Dogfish Head’s ancient recreation project.  It was created with similar ingredients preserved in 9000 year old pottery jars found in Northern China that included rice, honey and fruit.  Dogfish Head’s version includes orange blossom honey, muscat grape juice, barley malt and hawthorn fruit and is fermented for about a month with sake yeast.  The finished beer is a complex and unique ale that is unlike anything created for centuries.

 

Dreadnaught Imperial IPA/Artist: Randy Mosher

Three Floyds Brewing, Munster, Indiana

Randy Mosher has made a living creating the artwork and identities for breweries around the country.  Beyond his art, Randy is also an expert on beer and the art of brewing.  He wrote ‘Radical Brewing’ and ‘Tasting Beer’, both of which are widely respected references for beer enthusiasts and brewers alike.  Randy also teaches beer-style courses at the Siebel Institute of Technology, a technical school located in Chicago that focuses on the science of brewing.

One of his most notable clients is Three Floyds Brewing, a small brewery in Northern Indiana which has a nationwide cult following.  His artwork has been used on most of their bottled lineup including Dreadnaught Imperial IPA which features a playful portrait of a British officer in a red coat drinking a mug of IPA while a possible Indian assassin with a rifle startles him from behind.  With the Taj Mahal in the background, the label is a look back to the time of the British Raj, which ties this version of an India Pale Ale to the story on the bottle.

Three Floyds is well known for massive and delicious flavors in their beer.  Dreadnaught is a big juicy 9.5% ABV Imperial IPA bursting with pineapple gummy bear, mango, and passion fruit from the mighty hop additions and enough caramel malt character to help balance the 100 IBU’s.  This Imperial version of the India Pale Ale is world class.

 

Raging Bitch Belgian IPA/Artist: Ralph Steadman

Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, Maryland

Ralph Steadman is a British caricature artist who is certainly best known for his partnership with author Hunter S. Thompson and their 40-year friendship.  Ralph was responsible for the images in Thompson’s works that featured gritty, rough and exaggerated images splattered with color.  With a resume as long as the day, Ralph has also been responsible for the label art featured on everything bottled by Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland.

Known for their beers with an attitude, Raging Bitch IPA was originally created in celebration for their 20th Anniversary.  The label features a particularly unhappy female dog with swollen nipples screaming with all her might.  Splatters of water colors abound, making the label edgy and eye catching.  The beer itself is a hybrid of an American IPA that is fermented with Belgian ale yeast creating a medley of pine and grapefruit from the hops as well as a spice and fruitiness coming from the yeast.

“Two inflammatory words…one wild drink… Nectar imprisoned in a bottle.  Let it out… It is cruel to keep a wild animal locked up. Uncap it… Release it…stand back!  Wallow in its golden glow in a glass, beneath a white foaming head.  Remember, enjoying a RAGING BITCH, unleashed, untamed, unbridled – and in heat – is pure GONZO!!  It has taken 20 years to get from there to here. Enjoy!” – Ralph Steadman

 

Baudelaire Beer iO/Artist: Adam B. Forman

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, Michigan

Adam B. Forman is a Los Angeles based tattoo artist.  One of the shops Adam has worked at in the past is High Voltage Tattoo, a shop owned by reality television star Kat Von D. and location of the TLC show “LA Ink”.

Beyond tattooing, Adam is an accomplished illustrator with a unique style reminiscent of images that may be found in a book of dark children fables.  Adam’s art is a magical match for Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales which is one of the more unique breweries in the nation.  Among the many labels he has created for the brewery is Baudelaire Beer iO.  It is a beautiful pencil portrait of a young girl with what looks at first glance to be a bow in her hair, but is actually a fly.  The image is dark, but enchanting.  With her symmetrical features and deep eyes, the label looks like something that would adorn the wall of an art gallery not a bottle of beer.

What makes Jolly Pumpkin different than most other breweries is that they age their beers in wine barrels which contain naturally occurring microflora cultures including brettanomyces which give the beer a wild character.  The style of iO is a Saison, farmhouse-style ale originating in the French speaking Wallonia region of Southern Belgium. Originally the style was brewed in the fall and winter to be consumed in the warmer months by the farm workers.  Jolly Pumpkin’s version contains rose hips, rose petals and hibiscus which add a floral note, tartness and a gorgeous red hue.

Jason McLaughlin

Jason McLaughlin

Jason is a Certified Cicerone, ranked National as a BJCP judge (Beer Judge Certification Program), is a craft beer aficionado, a writer for the Nebraska Beer Blog, and award winning homebrewer living in Lincoln. Jason spends time traveling around the country judging beer competitions, and attending related events. Beer tasting and evaluation is his passion, and he can appreciate a great example of any style regardless of hype.


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