Natty-McNatty-Naturdays! I had a few of these strawberry-lemonade-light-lager-shandies when a friend brought them up to our cabin. Very refreshing and a nice lower ABV option to swill between double IPAs and imperial stouts. I love the pink can with the flamingo motif, which is why I chose to put this can in the Flamingo Hotel’s Flamingo Habitat in Las Vegas. It actually is a pretty good version of a shandy, not as sweet as you might imagine. For that matter, regular Natural Light is okay, just do me a favor and don’t ever buy the Natural ICE, it tastes like acetone. Cheers to friends, pink cans of beer, and the love of Saturday! Get natural this weekend and have a Naturdays!
I love traveling, and one of the best things about going to new places is seeking out new beers. Utah is one of my favorite destinations, but for skiing and mountains, not for the beer. There is some good beer to be found, but the strict alcohol rules make it difficult to purchase, or consume at most establishments. Luckily, last year they finally upped the percentage a bit, and now you can find 5% beers on draft. I have been asked to paint the Polygamy Porter for a long time, but until I actually went to Salt Lake City, I had a hard time coming up with a concept for the painting. When I finally went there last year, we visited Temple Square, where the Salt Lake Temple is located, and took a picture of the monumental temple with the intention of using it for a painting of Polygamy Porter. This beer is made as a tongue and cheek brew. The motto for the beer is, “Why have just one?” This painting is also made to be tongue and cheek, please don’t take it too seriously. When I was painting it, I was totally concerned that I might offend people, so my answer is please don’t be offended, it’s just a joke.
Cheers to Polygamy Porter! May the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints take my ribbing and Wasatch’s porter the right way, in good humor, if not in good “spirits.”
The original oil painting sold, but limited-edition prints are available at my Etsy shop.
When I tell people I’m the Beer Artist, they immediately think I make beer labels. I have to explain that I am an oil painter and I make paintings of beers. I have only made three official beer labels during my career so far, and two have been for special one-off beers for Midnight Sun Brewing Co. Former MSBC Chef, Chris Hilliard, and I brewed a Dopplebock called Feast with the brewing team. It was barrel aged in whiskey barrels. I made a special painting for the label with Alaskan animals drinking and feasting. When I heard MSBC’s General Manager Gary Busse, a.k.a. “The Adult,” was retiring, I asked if he had plans for a special retirement beer. He said, “Yes, a dunkelweizen.” I was excited about it, and said, “I have to do a special label for that!”
What most people don’t know is that Gary has been instrumental to my beer artist career. In 2006 I made a series of paintings called the Color of Beer, which was the first time I ever painted beer. The show was a huge success, not because I sold any work at the actual art show at Noble’s Diner, but because when I drove the paintings around town after the art show, I sold them at local breweries and at the home-brew shop. During a stop at the original MSBC location on Arctic Blvd I sold 3 of the 10 paintings! Two to Gary and another one to a customer who just happened to be getting a growler filled. It was because of this type of success that I made my second beer art series, 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. It took me years to complete the small paintings and then I had no idea where to show the large body of work. I had grandiose plans to house the show in the Lower 48 (what Alaskan’s call the Continental US), and I had a long back and forth email conversation with Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co. When that failed, I imagined Deschutes Brewing being the location for the show. Bend is where beer is more plentiful than water. When I visited the brewery, I couldn’t figure out where I would hang the pieces. Two years passed while I was searching for a location and I was chatting with Gary at the new MSBC Loft and asked what they had in mind for art. Gary explained that Barb Miller was going to do a rotating show every month and have a First Friday event called First Firkin Friday.
A firkin is a 10 gallon keg that is cask conditioned, i.e. fermented just enough in the keg to cause carbonation naturally. MSBC uses a pin for First Firkin Friday , which is a 5 gallon version of the firkin. Gary told me he would put a good word in for me with Barb, but that it was a long shot, because she had a specific vision. Barb and I hit it off, and she made me wait until January to have the show, because it was the first ever AK Beer Week! The show was a huge success, and I owe it to Gary and Barb! The following year Gary purchased a large beer painting I made for the next show at MSBC called Another Round, which consisted entirely of MSBC beer paintings. I continue to make beer paintings today, and completed my most famous series called the Year of Beer three years after the 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. I showed this series at MSBC as well.
Gary is the General Manager at MSBC. His nickname at the brewery is “The Adult.” He is the one who has kept MSBC profitable and in business. After art shows at MSBC Gary is the guy who writes and signs my checks. He has worked there for nearly 20 years! When I asked him what to do for his retirement beer label, he said it had to be a portrait of him with a bunch of kids running loose in the tasting room. He said the beer would be called “The Adult,” and that it was going to be a dunkelweizen, his favorite style. I am not a portrait artist and I have had some mixed reactions to my portraits over the years, and I mentioned this at our art meeting. I gave it my best shot and Gary was slightly disappointed with my first attempt at his portrait. He said the likeness maked him look like Butt-head, from Beavis and Butt-head. I gave it another try, working from a new picture that Gary send me of himself, and I finally got it right on the third try. The other characters on the label represent employees at Midnight Sun Brewing Co. It’s pretty easy to identify Davey with his mohawk and Barb struggling over toys with Mark. I imagined the girl in pink to represent some of the servers, and the others as brewers and workers over the ages. I know I missed many important MSBC people, but they are represented whether the likenesses are to be found or not. Leave it to “The Adult” to keep them in line.
What will MSBC do without this parental figure to check everyone and keep the brewery in the black? Luckily, Gary passed most of his knowledge to Jamie Schmitt, who has big shoes to fill. I am sure there will be many memories yet to be made at this iconic brewery in Anchorage, Alaska. With so many great beers and such a high quality bistro, MSBC has found its recipe for success! I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next! I love going to MSBC and love adorning the walls with my paintings every June and January! Cheers to Gary!
Solid Gold — ice cold! I don’t know if I can call this the holy grail of beers, that distinction is reserved for barrel aged brews with an ABV over 10%. The Solid Gold Premium Lager by Founders Brewing Co. in Michigan is way better than any other beer you can buy at this price point. When I get done doing yard work here at our log cabin in McCarthy, Alaska, I don’t want a whale of a beer to quench my thirst and ice my aching hands. I‘m looking for a traditional American premium lager, something that is thirst-quenching and not too strong for the after workday libation. The first one goes down in about 10 minutes and that’s if I try to sip and savor. If I were to start with something stronger, I might have a good time, but won’t be good for much, except rolling around in the moss giggling to myself. This lager tastes as good as any premium Mexican lager, but at a much lower price point.
Founders opened its doors in 1997 right about the time craft beer was still called microbrew, and discerning Americans were still drinking wine. In 1997 ice beer was all the rage, and thank the heavens that Founders started to show the world that beer can be classy, should be drank from a glass, and should be valued rather than looked down upon. I say if you are a macro domestic lager fan and are tired of supporting the Clydesdale of brewing, give Solid Gold a try. A win-win — stay a bit less drunk and keep some extra money in your pocket. Your friends will thank you at the next backyard bbq, when you show up with a case of the SG when they can still drive home after dominating the corn hole pitch. A perfect brew for pong or any game that requires dexterity. Try new beers, but keep drinking this premium lager as new brews are silver but this one is Solid Gold!
This original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
The saying goes, “Strike while the iron is hot!” That’s exactly what we’ll be doing this weekend, as thousands of people arrive to Anchorage for the Iditarod start this Saturday. The ceremonial start of the race will begin at 10am sharp, on 4th Avenue, right in front of the building where out studio is located. So we decided this would be a good time to turn the studio into a pop-up gallery for the day, and invite people to visit. There will also be a craft fair inside the building, making it an amusing place to warm up. After the Iditarod start, one of the most popular Fur Rondy events is happening — Running of the Reindeer at 4pm. Our studio will be open 10 – 5pm. Stop by for a home-baked cookie, and check out my art, not to mention our great view of the carnival (and maybe Denali).
This week is First Friday, and I’m having an art opening at Turnagain Brewing Company, which is a new-to-me venue. I created four large splatter beer paintings inspired by Jackson Pollock for this art show. I’ll be there 5 – 8pm this Friday, March 1. If you haven’t been to this brewery yet, I highly recommend it, especially if you like sour beer. If that’s not your thing, the brewery also offers traditional beer styles in a cozy atmosphere. Click here to see the Facebook event.
Beer — a fermented grain beverage, brewed on the planet Terra (Earth). Has a 5,000-year-old history of preserving grain, producing new and unique flavors, and establishing cultural identities across the blue and white planet. A bold brew that brings flavor to the galaxy.
Did you know that 10,000 light years from Earth there is a nebula of ethyl alcohol floating out in space? It is huge! About 10 gazillion liters of straight up booze. It brings new meaning to the Universe, and at least makes me realize how insignificant and unimportant it was when I spilled that glass of beer last month. It brings to mind the Futurama episode #52 called Godfellas, in which Bender is floating through outer space, and a tiny colony of miniature people brew beer on his chest. It would have been easier to just stick a straw into the alcohol nebula.
In this painting I put beer in the center of the Solar System, so this really gives new meaning to the phrase “Sip of Sunshine.” I was looking to put beer as the center of universe, however the universe just doesn’t have a real iconographic center, and the beer would have just been floating like a nebula in the middle of, well, we don’t even really know what, we just have theories. Even Universal Studios just has planet Earth for its classic logo. I named this painting Beer is my Universe, because I wanted to show how beer-centric a person could be. Sometimes I feel that my life is a bit too beer-centered, so this is a comedic painting pointing fun at that fact. Remember, it’s just beer, and if you don’t get a glass, the sun will still come up in the morning. Beer is a luxury, while sunlight is required for life!
Cheers to Terra! As far as we know, it’s the only planet with BEER!
Only one original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
I remember the first time I ever drank an Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout on Thanksgiving Day in 2002 at my friend Morgan Brown parents’ house in Corvallis, Oregon. They have this amazing property just outside of town with several acres, and a creek running right by their big farm house. We drank a couple of Old Rasputin’s on a walk around the property, and I don’t think I had ever had an imperial stout before — I was only 22 years old. Needless to say, the decadence of this beer blew my mind!
Fast forward 16 years (no I am not bringing Old Rasputin to the table today), but last week I drank the 22 oz bottle pictured in this painting with Maria in McCarthy, Alaska. I had a flashback when I was walking around the ten acres out there that took me right back to Corvallis. A bit different weather, as I remember blue skies and yellow leaves in Oregon, while in McCarthy we had snow and freezing rain. I also thought about what to include in the painting to show off the Russian qualities. Rasputin was in favor with the Czar living in St. Petersburg, but he was victim of a nasty coup and was poisoned, shot and drowned. This reminded me of this iconic cathedral known as the Church of the Savior Built on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg. Last year I went on a tour of this building, which is spectacular inside and out. It has a ton of history: the square it is built upon is a historic site where Alexander II was blown up in his carriage in 1881. His son commissioned this amazing cathedral designed by architect Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, and it was built from 1883-1907. Completed by Nicholas II. So when Gregori Rasputin was hanging out with Nicholas II in 1916 when he was murdered, this cathedral was probably an important spot for the religious mystic.
Russia is a fun, but dangerous place. Watch yourself when you are hanging out in St. Petersburg. The same level of safety consciousness we are used to here in America just doesn’t exist in Russia. For example, the Metro car doors slam shut with no warning, and could easily break your arm. Also when crossing the street use extreme caution as a crazed driver might just be driving on the sidewalk. You just never know what might happen in Russia!
Cheers to Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, keeping the memory of Rasputin alive. As the label on the bottle says in Russian, “A bosom friend is not born suddenly.”
The original oil painting sold. Limited-edition prints are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
How many beer glasses do you need? As many as you can possibly fit into your cabinet, that is how we do it here at Real Art is Better! I found that having the right glass for the beverage you are consuming makes the whole experience that much better. When I was looking for subject matter for this week’s Thirsty Thursday beer painting I thought about a series of different beers with different glasses. I remembered how fun it was to paint the Kandinsky-inspired Teku glasses painting, and bada bing, bada boom I arrived at this composition. This one took a lot longer than usual, due to all the details, and the larger size (24″x12″). Let’s name the glasses and types of beer I would put in them for fun. Left to right:
- The classic beer mug. Good for any style of normal beer, pilsner, lager, stout, amber, or Irish Red. Mostly a 5% alcohol by volume type of beer.
- Next is a snifter. I would put a high ABV brew in this type of glass, a Belgian double or triple, an imperial stout, a barleywine, or something barrel aged would be perfect.
- The next one is obviously for hefeweizen, or maybe a Belgian witbier.
- The Teku tulip glass is good for just about anything, but I would put sour, or funky beers at the top of the list.
- The Shaker pint is an all-around crowd pleaser, a jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none type of glass. I would not pour anything over 8% alcohol in this glass as it will just get you too drunk too fast.
- The Spiegelau IPA glass is obviously for India Pale Ales. Might you wonder why I put a rainbow in this glass? It is to show the diversity that IPA as a style represents from English, Black, West-Coast, Belgian, NEIPA, DIPA, Imperial, Milkshake, coffee-infused IPA, and on and on. Really, there are so many styles of IPA.
- The last glass on the right is a Speigelau Stout glass. I didn’t mention how these glasses are made from really amazing quality of crystal. My Aunt Barbara in California won’t drink wine from anything but fine crystal. Maybe you should do the same for your beer? Anyway put a stout in it.
Whatever your glass and whatever your style, remember to love it, or leave it. Don’t drink all 7 in one night, it is way better to enjoy beer moderately. There are diminishing returns when it come to fine ales!
Cheers to your favorite beer! May you always have the correct glass for your enjoyment!
The original oil painting sold. Limited-edition prints of this painting are available at our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
It’s that time of year when people go nuts, wear strange clothing, dress their dogs as goldfish and hit the streets to beg for candy while threatening to vandalize their neighbor’s property. Also known as Halloween. I chose Russian River Brewing’s Damnation Ale for this week’s beer painting release for obvious reasons. Damnation is a damn good version of a Belgian golden strong ale. Rocking in at 7.75% ABV, it is aptly named. I know many barleywines are much stronger, but you can easily taste the booze in them. This beer will get you when you don’t realize it, good thing it comes in a 375 ml bottle. This is pretty much a great example of the style. With esters of fruit and pear and peppery overtones, Damnation is a poster child for Belgian golden strong ale. Yet it is made right here in the USA. Sadly, I am completely out of my Russian River stash of bottles that we brought back from our trip to CA two summers ago. I was just thinking it’s time for another trip there. I painted a wildfire in the background of this painting as that is the closest thing to hell I can think of. I give solid respect to all of our forest firefighters, you are doing one hell of a job. I can’t think of a more physical and mentally challenging career.
Cheers to the Damnation, one damn good brew! Great job, Russian River Brewing, you are one of the best breweries out there!