Last Saturday, after an excellent ski day, we headed to Anchorage Brewing Company for Orval Day! If there is one thing I love about Anchorage Brewing Company, aside from its world-class beer, it’s the events that are held at its new location. Culmination Beer Fest is incredible, and Zwanze Day was special. Thanks Gabe Fletcher for bringing us such awesome festivities to our hometown! I was about the 101st person in line at Orval Day, which meant that the person ahead of me got the last Orval glass. Luckily, Gabe had an extra one in the back, and since he is a supporter of the beer arts he made a special effort to make sure I received the correct vessel for this special libation! The monks at Orval have perfected their beer recipe. Not too sour, nor too hoppy, or too sweet, or too high in alcohol. Brewed with Belgian candied sugar, dry-hopped, dosed with Brettanomyces, and brewed by Trappist Monks who know what they are doing, makes this a special beer indeed. Demand is high for this Abbey-made brew. The monks produce 2 million gallons a year, and although that is not enough to satisfy the world’s demand for this tasty ale, the monks say they are not brewing a drop more. They say that they are an Abbey first and brewery second, and if they increased production the brewery would take over the monastery. The other amazing thing at Orval Day was the Orval cheese also made by the Trappist monks. This cheese is not distributed outside of Belgium, France, or Holland. Orval Cheese is a Plateau cheese, and is soft and mild with an incredible hand-washed rind. Let me say it goes well with the beer! Anchorage Brewing Company was packed with beer loving Anchoragites. It seemed like everybody in the beer community was there. A wonderful day! Thanks Orval for putting so much love into your fine brew and cheese!
Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) was known for his jungle series of paintings. Though he painted over 25 of these large paintings, the one that is most famous is The Dream, which was quite large at 9 feet by 6 feet. It probably made a room feel tropical. Living in Alaska, where it is white outside and everything is still in hibernation mode, I enjoyed getting lost in the jungle while painting this boozy version. I love the lushness of the jungle and the way that Rousseau included so many animals hidden in this painting. When I was researching famous paintings and found this one, I saw the woman with her hand empty and immediately thought that she needs a pint. I know that when I am in the jungle I crave an ice-cold carbonated beverage. Not only because the tropics cause perspiration, but it just fits the setting. Unlike here in Alaska where, in the depths of winter, I would much rather have a small barleywine than a large yellow lager! I am calling this piece The Dream Pint, because I live in Alaska and often dream of being in the jungle drinking a beer. Hope you enjoy this one. Cheers to exotic beers!
The original oil painting sold, but you can purchase a limited-edition print, or order a custom beer painting at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
Claude Monet, considered the father of Impressionism, painted during his epic life span of 86 years, completing his famous Japanese garden paintings at the peak of his career between 1897-99. Monet moved to Giverny, near Paris in 1883, and bought the adjacent plot of land from his home in 1893. He transformed that lot into a beautiful Asia-inspired garden with exotic plants and an arched bridge. This garden was the inspiration for the piece I sampled for this week’s Thirsty Thursday beer painting. Monet is an inspiration to me for his use of color, the way he represented light in his work, and his hard work ethic. I call this painting Light Struck due to the way Monet handled light in his work, but also because if you leave your beer too long unattended in the sun it will become less delicious. Have fun, but put a beer cozy on your pint! Cheers to the gold of the sun! Here’s a green painting for St. Patricks day!
This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are available for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
The featured beer for today’s Thirsty Thursday project is by Victory Brewing Company, known as the Java Cask. I’ve had almost every barrel-aged beer that Victory has produced, but the Java Cask is hands down the best barrel-aged offering I’ve had from Victory! It tastes like coffee beans making sweet music that was designed to be tasted and not heard. This stout is brewed with JB’s Coffee, so I created an image that incorporates Johnny Brenda’s restaurant, but modified the scene to show coffee beans singing to the barrels in the audience. All I can say about this 14.3% bourbon barrel-aged beauty is that it is phenomenal. If you have an opportunity to get your hands on this treat of a beer, you will find that it makes music to your tastebuds! Cheers to Victory’s barrel aging program! The Java Cask is a masterpiece of the brewing art.
This original oil painting, and 52 limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
Not often does a visual artist get to brew a beer in a commercial brewery. I was lucky enough to get to do just that! When my home-brewing buddy Chris Hilliard became the Chef for the Loft at Midnight Sun Brewing Company he told me he was going to see what he could do to get into the brewery and brew a beer. I told him that was a dream of mine as well and that I would like to join him. Another dream of mine was to do the artwork for a beer label. Many people have asked me which beer labels I have designed, and I have had to say the only beer labels I am responsible for are my home-brew labels, which I normally get rushed on as fewer than fifty bottles of beer hardly warrant much of my time. Home-brew is gone before anyone really takes the time to look at the label. Nor does it qualify as a commercial beer label. Chris went to bat for me and not only got me into the brewery to brew a beer with him on the big brew kettle at MSBC, but he also got the marketing crew to let me make a painting that would be the label design. The beer, which is called Feast, due to the recipe being created by Chef Chris, is a traditional German dopplebock aged in whiskey barrels. It is not a small beer, being around 7.0-7.5% ABV. Dopplebock has been referred to as liquid bread, which brings to mind monks drinking beer during Lenten fasts. We discussed all kinds of names and different images I could use for the label, but the marketing team decided to go with Feast, and I thought that it would be cool to put a bunch of Alaskan animals all around a big table at a huge feast. The animals represent the MSBC staff members as well as some of the regulars at the Loft (I like to think of myself as the mountain goat). I included images of the food you can eat at the Loft as well, in homage to Chris’ culinary skills. All in all, this label took me way longer than I thought it would, but I think it turned out better than I had hoped. The images in this post are of the original painting without any textual graphics, and the mock up of the label, which is subject to change due to the fact that it has not been fully approved by the marketing staff. I hope this will be the first of many label designs. I do love working with breweries. Cheers to the Feast! Act like a monk and drink your meal! The tentative release date is in April.
The original oil painting will be up for auction at the Loft when the beer is released. I am releasing 52 limited-edition fine art prints of this painting, which are available for sale at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
Originally part of the 7 Deadly Sins series of 2007, Sloth Belgian-Style Imperial Stout is one of the finest beers brewed by Midnight Sun Brewing here in Anchorage, Alaska. There is a reason Midnight Sun claims this is one of Alaska’s Most Wanted beers on the label. It is really good! A sloth is a cute, but slow creature moving so slowly that algae grows in its fur. I recommend drinking this beer as if you were a sloth, sipping it slowly like you have all the time in the world. Sloths are tan and develop a green tinge as the algae grows in their fur. The beer is as dark as night, and has a serious punch in its flavor. It smells sweet from the extensive malt backbone, and Belgian yeast, and the booze is there, but for a 10% beer it tastes mild due to the Bourbon barrel aging. I recommend buying a case of this amazing brew, as it is one that will hang out and cellar well. Don’t delay, the last time it was brewed was 10 years ago! Cheers to the Sloth in all of us. Hey, it might be a deadly sin, but it is dreadfully delicious as a beer!
The original oil painting sold. You can purchase a limited-edition print, or order a Custom Beer Painting at my Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.
This week the beer deemed worthy of being immortalized in an oil painting is the Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout brewed by Epic Brewing in Salt Lake City, Utah. Batch No. 57 with Blue Copper coffee, cacao nibs, and 100% aged in whiskey barrels! If you are lucky enough to get your hands on these limited edition strong ales, do it, do it now! This bottle was sent to me directly from Salt Lake City by a very good beer art patron. Thanks Christine! I have to admit that I had never heard of Epic Brewing until receiving this choice bottle in the mail. Epic Brewing brews in both Salt Lake and Denver, but the original concept spawned from Salt Lake with a game plan of making strong ale in the middle of Utah, a state with fairly harsh beer laws. You don’t have to please everybody, and I am sure some 3.2% yellow fizzy beer lovers are going to hate the serious flavor profile that the Big Bad Baptist brings to the table. The beer is big, it’s black, and it has this lacing in the dark foam that looks downright oily. Its flavor is exactly what you would expect, chocolate and coffee, fruit and black licorice, with a whiskey warming sensation and aroma with some serious oak influences. I mean, it’s complex and delicious. A major palate pleaser! Last time I was in Utah I drove straight through on my way to Colorado. Next time I will make a stop to see what’s cookin’ at Epic Brewing! And I’ll stop again when I hit Denver! This big bad brew showcases different craft coffee roasters in different batches. I had batch number 57, which had dark roast coffee from Blue Copper Roasters of Salt Lake City. New to the coffee scene, Blue Copper opened its doors in 2013. What better way to showcase their product than to collaborate with Epic Brewing?! I wish I could try this particular batch of coffee straight. Coffee is another one of my favorite beverages!
Cheers to Epic Brewing Company, brewing up epic beverages in the Crossroads of the West! May your ales stay strong, and your barrels be plentiful!