Monthly Archives: November 2016

Pick Six.

A couple weeks ago we visited Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, and on the drive there, I read an article (my wife was driving) that showed up in my e-mail from Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine called Pick Six: Russian River Brewing’s Vinnie Cilurzo.  The article was about the six beers that Cilurzo, owner/brewer of Russian River prefers to drink off the clock.  So that made me think about which six beers are my favorite.  I’ve sampled hundreds of beers, including every single one featured on this blog.  So here’s my list of favorites:

Bitter Monk IPA by Anchorage Brewing Co: This Belgian style double IPA with Brettanomyces is aged in french oak chardonnay barrels. Need I say more?

Termination Dust by Midnight Sun Brewing Co: This is a Belgian style barley wine aged in bourbon oak barrels.  Each sip is full of robust flavors of fruit, chocolate and smooth bourbon.  One of the best barley wines I’ve had.

Celebration IPA by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co: This fresh hop IPA is one of my favorite seasonal beers.  The hop flavor is well-balanced, yet hardy, and the beer is crisp and refreshing.  This brewery is inspiring and is world-class.

Obsidian Stout by Deschutes Brewing Co: This is an excellent example of a stout.  The flavor of roasted malt is balanced with the right amount of sweetness, without the hint of sour bitterness that is in many stouts.

Einbecker Pils: We drank this beer in Germany on a hot summer day, and it tasted like liquid sunshine.  When I think of German pils, I think of this beer.

Hoegaarden: We rode our bikes through the town of Hoegaarden, past the huge brewery, and stopped at a local watering hole for a couple pints right next to the source.  I think this beer is one of the best examples of a wit beer.

We are always reading about famous brewers’ favorite beers, but it was fun to think about which beers I would put on my short list of six.  So, if you were to pick six, which ones would they be?


Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #100! November 24, 2016. The Last Beer Tasting.

Happy Thirsty Thanksgiving!  And my 100th Thirsty Thursday beer painting!

Leonardo Da Vinci must have been a beer drinker.  Here’s my reasoning: 500 years ago Italian water was polluted, and wine was too expensive and much too strong.  Jesus was a bearded man who wore sandals, no doubt he drank beer too.  Plus, 2,000 years ago the water was just as polluted and wine was even more expensive.  Leonardo Da Vinci’s mural painting of the Last Supper at the Sante Maria Del Grazie in Milan is one of the most famous paintings in the world. I have had it on my to-paint-as-a-beer-parody list for months, but I was intimidated by all the details I would have to paint.  It occurred to me it was time to make this painting when I realized that I would be releasing my 100th Thirsty Thursday painting on Thanksgiving, so it had to be remarkable in some way.  When I think of great feasts, the Last Supper comes to mind.  I’m calling this piece the Last Beer Tasting.  According to the Gospel John, Christ told the disciples that one of the twelve would betray him.  It is at this moment that Da Vinci depicts the Last Supper.  The gospel tells us they had bread and wine, but maybe they actually had beer instead, which is a form of liquid bread?  As a beer connoisseur it seems plausible to me.  Anyway, don’t get too wrapped up in this painting.  I don’t think that what is on the table should take away much of the overall meaning that Da Vinci originally portrayed.  Of course the  true meaning of a painting is only what you take from the experience you receive when viewing it.  I hope you find this whimsical and not blasphemous.  Cheers to the feast!  May you be forever thankful for the bounty at your table!

This original oil painting, and limited-edition, signed art prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Beer parody of the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci.  The Last Beer Tasting by Scott Clendaniel. 24"x12", oil on panel.

Beer parody of the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci. The Last Beer Tasting by Scott Clendaniel. 24″x12″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #99, November 17, 2016, Narwhal Barrel Aged Imperial Stout by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

🎶 Take one down, pass it around!  99 Thirsty Thursday beer paintings posted to my FB wall! 🎶

Can you believe team Real Art is Better (Maria and myself) have released a beer painting for the last 99 Thursdays in a row without missing one?!  Not as impressive as when we released a different painting every day in 2014, but still noteworthy.  We almost missed a week during our last trip to our log cabin in McCarthy, when on a Thursday morning we awoke to an Internet outage.  Luckily the connection was restored around noon, so we posted as normal.   

Anyway, I released Bourbon County Brand stout last week, so how about a little barrel-aged goodness from an independent brewery, although the 3rd largest in production in the country — Sierra Nevada Brewing Co!  The beer I’m talking about is the Narwhal 2015 Barrel Aged Imperial Stout!  I bought the bottle that’s in this painting as soon as I finished painting it, and brought it back to Anchorage in my luggage.  I have to admit I haven’t cracked this special bottle open yet, but I did taste this beer at last year’s Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival.  I have drank every beer that I’ve blogged about here.  The beer is jet black, smooth and silky, yet as robust as a Narwhal’s horn.  The flavor is amazing.  This beer is a spectacular treat and probably as hard to find as a Narwhal in the wild.  

I painted this on my trip to California in the brewery’s restaurant in Chico.  I chose a table on stage that has a view of the East Brewhouse.  With the Narwhal in the foreground, I knew this was a recipe for a successful painting.  I felt confident that the German copper kettles would shine when depicted in my usual style, painted on birch plywood that’s coated with gold paint.  

Sierra Nevada has to be one of my favorite large craft breweries.  It’s hard not to love a brewery that puts so much effort into crafting such delicious, sustainable brews.  The roofs are lined with solar panels and there’s childcare available onsite.  The hops are fresh and the kettles are copper.  I’ve heard people complaining about the size of Sierra Nevada, but hey, it started out small, with the first brew kettles built out of old dairy equipment.  We can thank Sierra Nevada for practically inventing American Pale Ale, now a world-renowned beer style.  I mean, both Wyeast and Whitelabs have yeast strains from Sierra Nevada labeled as the American Ale yeast.  Sierra Nevada’s Chico brewery is far from anywhere, but it is worth the pilgrimage, not only to buy rare bottles of Narwhal, but I got to drink my first Celebration IPA of the season at the source!  

Like in the final entry in my Year of Beer Series (Celebration IPA), I propose a toast to Sierra Nevada and to finely crafted beers worldwide!

This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #99 by Scott Clendaniel. November 17, 2016. Narwhal Barrel Aged Imperial Stout by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., 8"x10", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #99 by Scott Clendaniel. November 17, 2016. Narwhal Barrel Aged Imperial Stout by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., 8″x10″, oil on panel.

Painting Live at Breweries

We just returned from a two-week brewery tour of California.  The point of the trip was to visit exceptional breweries, and to bring home beer that we can’t buy in Anchorage.  As an artist who paints portraits of beer, what better place to paint than right at the source?  I usually contact the breweries ahead of time and ask for permission to paint.  I’ve only been turned down by one brewery so far.  Some breweries are very welcoming, like Brewery Ommegang and Allagash Brewing.  I have painted at about 18 breweries in at least 9 different states.  I sit at a regular table, and spread out some paper towels to protect the surface.  Then I lay out my brushes and open up my portable oil paint palette.  I ask the bartender which beer I should paint, and often rely on his/her suggestion.  In addition to the beer I’m painting, I also order a second beer that I can sip on while I’m working.  It takes me 1.5-2 hours to finish a live painting.  They are all 8″x10″.  Most of the time I just paint what I see in front of me — the glass and whatever is behind it.  There are a lot of details to paint, and since I can’t take up a table for too long, I mostly try to capture the essence and the energy of the place, just to give the viewer a sense of what it’s like to be at the brewery.  When the painting is done, I photograph it, and then pack it up for safe transport.  I put a thumbtack in each corner, and one in the middle, and place a wood panel on top.  This way the oil paint won’t get smeared.  Then I tape the edges of the two panels together to keep them from sliding and to prevent debris from getting on the painting surface.  One time at Dogfish Head, a couple sitting next to me watched me paint, and then bought the painting right after the last brush stroke.  They had gotten married at the brewery the day before.  So I put the wet oil painting in a pizza box for them so it wouldn’t get damaged on their drive home.

My paintings turn out more detailed in the studio, because there are fewer distractions and no time constraint, but I enjoy painting live at breweries, because it breaks up the monotony of painting alone in my studio, and the extra exposure doesn’t hurt either.

Here are a few photos of me in action.


At Dogfish Head in Delaware


At Yards Brewing in Pennsylvania


At Midnight Sun Brewing Co. in Anchorage


At Anchorage Brewing Co. in Anchorage


At Bell’s Brewery in Michigan


At Russian River Brewing in California


At Sleeping Lady Brewing Co. in Anchorage


At Allagash Brewing in Maine

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #98, November 10, 2016, Bourbon County Brand Stout by Goose Island Beer Co.

🎶Hey, Chicago, what do you say? The Cubs are gonna win today. They’re singing… go, Cubs, go!🎶

Good news Chicago, Bourbon Country Brand Stout from Goose Island Beer Co. is only a few weeks from its release date.  This Fall has been full of surprises, but the Bourbon County stout is a staple that we can rely on.  It has been over 100 years since the Cubs have been World Series Champions, and the curse of the goat is over.  Phew!  Cubs fans can sigh in relief.  I know most of the people in Chicago are upset over this current election result, but I hope you listen to my favorite president, Barack Obama, when he said that we are all on the same team.  Hillary, a Chicago native, even told us to give the new President-Elect a chance, and hey, if he screws up, we have our Constitution to back us up.  So let that black cloud of doubt go.  Like the curse of the goat, this too shall pass.  Another candidate will run in four years.  Part of the beauty of America, besides our baseball, is that for over 200 years Americans have watched the change of political power without any violence.  So pop open a bottle of Bourbon County stout and rewatch game seven of the World Series on TiVo.  America will weather this and possibly still be great when it’s all done.  THREE CHEERS FOR THE CUBS, and another for Bourbon County Brand Stout.

The original painting sold, but you can purchase limited-edition, signed prints, or order a custom beer painting at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #98 by Scott Clendaniel. November 10, 2016. Bourbon County Brand Stout by Goose Island Beer Co., 14"x11", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #98 by Scott Clendaniel. November 10, 2016. Bourbon County Brand Stout by Goose Island Beer Co., 14″x11″, oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #97, November 3, 2016, Pliny the Elder IPA by Russian River Brewing Co.

On the road again!  What a road it is.  Leaving San Jose and heading straight for the ocean, we ended up at Half Moon Bay.  The last time we were there was seven years ago, when we camped at Half Moon Bay during our tandem bicycle tour down the Pacific Coast.  The surf was up, and I didn’t feel like swimming, because there is a wicked rip current that will take you out to sea!  We stopped for coffee and a doughnut and then drove straight to San Fransisco, and over the Golden Gate Bridge.  We continued up Highway 1, or should I say roller coaster 1, because that’s what it felt like, and we were going to stop for barbecued oysters along Tomales Bay, but time was getting short, and I had a painting date at the world-famous Russian River Brewing Co.  We were greeted at the door by the host, who was expecting me, “Painter Scott”.  Yep, that’s me.  

The drive to Russian River reminded me of being on the bike tour, and I decided to relax and let my painting tell a story of the road trip to Santa Rosa, to show the pilgrimage to the brew pub that so many people make.  About half an hour into the painting, which is of Pliny the Elder, Maria gets a phone call from our college friend Moriah, who just happens to be in town for work, and so she meets us at the brewery!  I get to talk with a nice couple at a nearby table, and also run into a lady who recognizes my Midnight Sun Brewing t-shirt, and stops me to tell me that MSBC’s first Chef is from Santa Rosa and just started a new brewery down the road.  The woman is his daughter.  Small world.  I filled my Russian River growler and walked the mile home to Hotel Azura, where we watched the 6th game of the World Series, while drinking delicious Russian River beer.  Even my team won the game!  Overall a fabulous day!  It doesn’t get any better than this!       

The original oil painting sold. Limited-edition prints are available at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.