Juicy Brews Art Gallery Craft Beer Fest: Creative Collaboration Between Brewing and Design

By Katie Priest

Juicy Brews Art Gallery highlights the artists that are sometimes left behind the scene. The Craft Beer Fest, held recently and hosted by Hop Culture and Marz Community Brewing, featured the designers behind many distinguished breweries, showcasing their collaboration process and selling their work alongside the unlimited pours from the brew masters.

While some had sketches or photos of their designs and labels, many were selling prints or stickers of their work. The artists are an integral part of the process, and too often go unnoticed—Hop Culture and Marz Community Brewing did a fine job of shifting this narrative.

From the beer perspective, it’s challenging for brewers to know what to expect when they’re planning which unforgettable hype beer to bring to a festival, let alone months in advance (and often in an unfamiliar city). For beer-enthusiasts, or simply dedicated festival-goers, the guessing game is drastically simplified—IPA season is still upon us.

Only six out of the 24 listed breweries at the Hop Culture and Marz Community Brewing collaboration did not feature an IPA on their pour list for this event. Even Marz poured a pale wheat ale, which was pretty good as far as the hazy IPAs went (which almost everyone brought). Foam brought the best of the bunch—both Built to Spill and …Like Clockwork were delicious and utterly juicy brews.

IPAs were surely a better choice than the rich and heavy stouts being poured given the severe heat of late. To beat the heat, the event distracted attendees with unlimited 4-ounce pours, a unique celebration of art and the collaboration between artists and some of the best breweries in the country. With music by Hoof Hearted Brewing artist Thom Lessner, food available for purchase and plenty of merchandise, Juicy Brews Art Gallery was more than ready to entertain those brave enough to endure the heat.

A considerable downside were the limitations that the heat and high alcohol content beer posed—it was impossible to drink many pours when so many were over 8%, and each of the three areas of the festival were over 90 degrees. Despite the less-than-ideal weather, there were enough fresh and limited release beverages and creative artwork on site to engage ticket holders for the event.

A few standouts—Forest & Main’s entire selection was beautiful and weather appropriate, including a 4.5% Stout and two Saisons, Misheard Sounds (brewed with black tea) and Existing Key (with Pilsner malt and Spelt).

Jackie O’s poured Anything and Everything and Nothing At All (w/ Cycle), a 16% Imperial Stout aged in cinnamon vanilla whiskey barrels. The stout, while it brimmed with those flavors from the wood alone, was a great example of what tastes great, but unfortunately does not work well in 95-degree weather.

Foreign Objects had a fine unfiltered Üngespundet Lagerbier, Die Deutscher Haltung (4.8%).

2nd Shift offered a collaboration with Mikkeller Baghaven called the Evolution of Friendship—a very good Wild Ale aged in white wine barrels with berries.

Resident Culture had great art and good beer, especially their barrel-aged guava Saison, Body Talk. As far as other top artists, Cinderlands had exceptional art complete with original color woodcut prints, despite having a bad Pilsner, Tracks Again, and a Berliner Weisse reminiscent of Emergen-C.

Hop Culture and Marz Community Brewing put on a fantastic event, despite the weather and the challenges of planning from a distance. Complete with so many different breweries and their dedicated design artists, it was impressive that there were only a few that didn’t live up to their hype.

Guest author Katie Priest recently returned home to Chicago after receiving her BA in English from the University of Washington in Seattle. She is eager to pursue her long-time passions of reading and writing through the exploration and review of the arts.

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