Monthly Archives: September 2017

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #107. Assassin Killer Imperial Stout by Toppling Goliath Brewing.

Happy National Drink Beer Day, or as I call it, business as usual!  Today is also Thirsty Thursday, which means I’m releasing a new beer oil painting.
When I think of Iowa, I think of Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.  I have only had a few offerings from TGB, but I think it’s one of the best, and I would like to go to Decorah, Iowa to sample the beers fresh at the brewery.  My first TGB beer was Zeelander IPA, loaded with fresh Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand.  I painted that one during the Year of Beer Paintings.  Check it out here.  I was lucky enough to get to try a couple 2 oz pours of the 2016 Assassin Killer Barrel Aged Imperial Stout at the Culmination Beer Fest here at Anchorage Brewing Co. Because this barrel aged imperial stout is 12% ABV, it is definitely a killer!  I liked the purple wax used on the 2016 vintage, and I can’t recommend this beer enough.  I’m stoked I got to try this whale of a beer.  I remember it coating my glass with an oily residue, it was so thick that it required several rinses to be ready for more regular beers.  Not that any beer is regular at Culmination, but this one really stood out in my mind.
Cheers to drinking the best beer!  Assassin is one of the great beers of America!  Keep your glasses filled, and pour me some too!  Thanks Toppling Goliath for making superb brews!

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

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #107. Assassin Killer Imperial Barrel Aged Stout by Toppling Goliath Brewing. By Scott Clendaniel. 8"x10", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #107. Assassin Killer Imperial Barrel Aged Stout by Toppling Goliath Brewing. By Scott Clendaniel. 8″x10″, oil on panel.


The Brewery Star

~ by Maria Benner

One evening, while we were in Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany last month, we were wandering down the narrow, cobblestone streets, looking for a good place to sit down for a beer.  When we saw the Brewery Star hanging above a door of a restaurant, we immediately decided that it would be the right place for beer.  The establishment had been a brewery several hundred years ago, but now was just a restaurant.  The Brewery Star remained from the days when the place was a brewery, sometime around the 1600s.

The Brewery Star

Inside the restaurant we found more information about the ancient symbol.  Here’s what we learned.

Beer can be seen as an alchemical concoction combining the four elements: Earth (grain), Water, Air (carbon-dioxide), and Fire (boiling).  Beer, more than any other fermented beverage, is rooted in alchemy traditions and the belief that the brewer is descended from the alchemist is reflected in folk beliefs.

Thus, the symbol of the alchemists, the hexagon made up of two superimposed triangles, became the brewers’ trademark.  Numerous medieval and early modern manuscripts depict a six pointed star as a symbol of fermentation.

The Brewery Star dates back to antiquity and originated in India where it was a symbol for the cosmic unity of male and female.  Moreover, the Brewery Star is identical to the Seal of Solomon, the Star of David, or the Jewish Star.

Alchemists and brewers fused this symbolism with the theory of the four elements: Earth, Fire, Air and Water, which were placed in a cosmological context with the four quarters of the sky and four segments of a day.  To the brewmaster the brewery star represented the inherent connectedness of the elements he used to brew beer and reflected the seasons of the year through the brewing and festivities around beer.

The Four Elements


The Brewery Star

Scott has painted the Brewery Star once in this oil painting of 2XIPA by Southern Tier Brewing Company, which he painted during the Year of Beer Paintings.  The original painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

2XIPA by Southern Tier Brewing Company with the Brewery Star.2XIPA by Southern Tier Brewing Company with the Brewery Star.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #106. Bleeding Heart Brewery Beet IPA.

Happy Autumn Equinox Ladies and Gentlemen!  

Well, Equinox isn’t until tomorrow at 1:02PM PST, so I am celebrating a bit early.  Why celebrate the end of summer?  I guess I am just feeling lucky to have survived the summer craze.  Now I have made it to the “chill” time of year when everyone goes home at 9PM and the beer lines are manageable.

I decided to start doing Thirsty Thursday beer painting releases again.  So follow along every week to see a new beer-themed painting and blog post.

I made this beer painting to honor Bleeding Heart Brewery’s flagship beer — the Beet IPA.  That’s right, this is not a Rosé wine, this is an IPA brewed with water, malt, hops, BEETS, and yeast.  I know, I thought it was very strange at first, and that’s why I had to order it.  The beets add an earthy and slightly sweet flavor to the hoppy brew.  Now I order this beer every time.  I have visited this Palmer, Alaska brewery three times and it makes me wish I lived in Palmer.  The irony of this brewery is the brewers are using a system not much larger than my home brewery, and yet, they seem to make enough product to stay in business and to sell commercially.  Often times brewing a batch twice to fill one of their tiny fermenters.  The price is a bit steep for a new start up brewery, but I have yet to try a brew from these artisanal brewing artists that wasn’t worth the $6 – $10 per 12 oz serving.  I love the farm setting, and the avant-garde beers are cutting edge.  This is a true farmhouse brewery complete with chickens and cows.  The beer garden is as fun to drink beer in as any I have ever visited.  Often there’s a food truck offering delicious grub that pairs perfectly with the brew.  If you are an Alaskan, or traveling in Alaska, and you don’t make a pilgrimage to Bleeding Heart, conveniently located behind the Alaska State Fairgrounds, you are making a big mistake.

Cheers to Bleeding Heart, a brewery that will “make it” from sheer tenacity, with great products, a wonderful setting, and fabulous personality.  A hidden gem waiting to explode.  I would invest now if I were you!  This brewery is a solid addition to the craft beer community of Alaska. 

The original oil painting sold, but 52 limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #106. Beet IPA by Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer, Alaska. By Scott Clendaniel. 8"x10", oil on panel.

Thirsty Thursday Beer Painting #106. Beet IPA by Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer, Alaska. By Scott Clendaniel. 8″x10″, oil on panel.

15 Highlights from Our Trip to Iceland, Russia and Germany

~ by Maria Benner

We just returned from an epic trip to Iceland, Russia and Germany.  The trip was my mom’s idea — she wanted to show us the real Russia.  On the way there, we had a layover in Iceland, so we decided to extend it for two days, and on the way back we extended our layover in Germany for a week.  In Iceland we stayed two nights in Reykjavik.  In Russia we flew into Moscow, took a train to a small village called Izmaylovo, then cruised from Moscow to St. Petersburg.  In Germany we flew into Frankfurt, and took the train to Bacharach, then went on a boat ride up the Rhein River to Koblenz, and took trains to Baden Baden, Munich, and Rothenburg.

So, here are 15 highlights from this month-long journey.

  1. The sights on the Golden Circle route in Iceland, which are Þingvellir National Park with a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates, the Geysir that shoots water 70 meters in the air, and the incredibly gorgeous Gullfoss Waterfalls.

2. Red Square in Moscow.  This was my third time visiting Red Square, and each time I can’t believe I’m standing there, because it’s such a famous and powerful place.  I was hoping Putin’s motorcade would drive out the Kremlin gates, but no luck.

3. Going on a hay ride on a little buggy in a small village called Izmaylovo in Russia with our new friend we called Uncle Bob.  We also cut birch branches for the banya.

Hay ride

4. Taking a real Russian banya, which is a Russian sauna heated by a big brick stove.  We made brooms out of birch branches and whacked each other with them.  Supposedly that’s good for blood circulation.

Russian Banya

5. Going for a walk in a pristine Russian pine forest.

Russian pine forest.

6. Once we got on the river cruise, our ship had to go through many locks, which are devices used for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. Here’s a time-lapse video of the last lock we went through.

7. The Pogost in Kizhi, a church built without a single nail.  It has 30,000 wooden shingles on the onion domes.  The church was being restored, so this is the best picture I got of it, without showing the construction work.  Restoration should be complete in 2020.

The Pogost in Kizhi.


8. The Vodka Museum.

Vodka Museum in Russia.

9. St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, which took 40 years to build.  Those green columns are solid malachite.

St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

10. Peterhof Palace, the Versailles of Russia.

Peterhof Palace

11.  Staying in a castle hostel in Bacharach Germany.  The castle was on top of a hill, and there were 400 steps up to our room.

Burg Stahleck Castle

12.  Seeing the Lorelei on the Rhein River, which is a rock headland.  Legends say that a maiden named the Lorelei lives on the rock and lures fishermen to their death with her song.  In high school we had to memorize a very long poem in German for Frau Fischer’s class, and everyone had to recite it in front of the whole class.


13. Bathing in the mineral waters of Roman baths called Friedrichsbad in Baden Baden.  The Romans were the first to construct bathing facilities there in order to benefit from the special water.  Men and women all bathe naked here.  Sorry, no pictures.

14. Drinking beer at the famous Hofbräuhaus in München.

15. Last, but not least, is the tour with the Night Watchman of Rothenburg.  This man came up with a genius idea to dress up as the night watchman from several centuries ago, and do a one-hour tour every night in English.

The Night Watchman of Rothenburg

This was definitely one of the best trips of my life!  Thank you Mom for making it happen!!!