It’s early Friday morning as I write this, and my head is throbbing. My ears are ringing from standing too close to the speakers. The taste of the late night burrito is still on my tongue. I rode the Vomit Commit home. A typical Thursday night. Thanks, beer.
What wasn’t so typical about said night was the beer that I was celebrating. Collective Arts Brewing is a new grassroots beer company that goes beyond the bottle, marrying music, art, photography and film alongside their tasty brews.
At first I wonder what beer has to do with this melding of art forms, then I meet founders Matt Johnston and Bob Russell. Two self-professed creative junkies, Matt and Bob are the antitheses of drab, and their dogma checks out. They talk of building a platform whereby emerging artists from all over the world are given a new outlet to showcase their talents. They laud the creation of an alternative forum in which the public can engage and interact with said artists, all the while using beer as the binding agent.
So, what am I yammering on about? Take the labeling of their Rhyme & Reason, Extra Pale Ale – each bottle is equipped with a unique artist design, creating a veritable mini-gallery with each 6-pack purchase. Artists from across the globe responded to Collective Arts’ call for submissions, and 93 distinct labels now don their bottles. In fact, the first release of their art label series (which will run along with the release of Rhyme & Reason in LCBOs starting at the end of September) was selected from over 750 works of art, photography, music, and motion graphics.
Taking what they call a “pop-up-gallery” one step further, these artist labels are more than just décor for your drink. Each label is equipped with BLIPPAR technology, bringing the story of each artist into the palm of your hands. Scan the work using the BLIPPAR app on your smartphone and gain insight into the artists’ bios, videos, links and more. Everything from the bottles to the coasters and the taps are scannable.
As I alternated between my bottle of Rhyme & Reason and pints of their zesty, Citrus-Infused Blond Ale called Saint of Circumstance, I couldn’t help but crack a smile as I looked around the packed room at the Gladstone Hotel. The Strumbellas and Poor Young Things capped off a night that was already rife with creative juices.
As if beer wasn’t a creative inspiration in itself, it was nice to see the malted substance as more than just a way to share a hangover, or a one-night-stand with your neighbour. Collective Arts Brewing has taken one of the world’s great conversation aids and used it to spark real discussion, and lead to the discovery of something new with every swig.