Monthly Archives: July 2013

Label Artists You Should Hire (part 1)

Bottle labels are, to me, very important. They express the thought and care that goes in to every part of the process. In a world where beer styles can blend in to each other, labels stick out, catch the eye and provoke a curiosity in the beer. Hell, myself and I’m sure many of you have purchased a beer based purely on the label art and have had excellent results from it. Collecting label art is a hobby of many as well. It’s a part of the beer-making process that is incredibly important and shouldn’t be overlooked.

The idea for this post came to me in two moments. The first was shortly after I was talking to the owner of a brewery about bottle label designs. He expressed an interest in a particular artist I knew (Manny Hernaez, who did my wonderful header). I sent an e-mail to both of them introducing each other and felt pretty damn good about hooking up an artist with work from a brewery that wants to use him.

by Katelan Foisy

The second moment came to me when I was visiting my friends Katelan Foisy and Melissa Dowell (the latter of which has a Narwhal BBQ Skewer Kickstarter you should all get in on) in a bar in Astoria. A beer was ordered and there was some frustration at a particular bottle that was quite ugly, with very little thought or skill put in to it. From there it went to me thinking of matching up some people via e-mail again, but then it REALLY hit me that I would be able to get a wider group of people, breweries, homebrewers, bars, promoters….anyone who needs an incredible beer label or poster or, in many cases as well, a web site, by making a post. So here we are, part 1 of a series of posts on artists I love whose work should go on a beer label.

NOTE: I’m not a rep for these artists and am not the one to talk to regarding inquiries. So I have included for you their web sites with portfolios, contact info and social media links along with a description from their site on their work (along with a few personal words from me). If you’re interested in their work and would like to commission a label or other piece of work, contact the artists individually. I can also confirm that every artist I put up in this series has experience with design and can design the label from a technical side as well as artistic.

Yao Xiao
Twitter: @yaoxiaoart

Recognitions: American Illustration 32, Society of Illustrators Student Competition 2013, Seattle Erotic Art Festival Juried Exhibition 2013, The Kennedy Center Certificate of Merit

“Yao’s work is published in anthologies, magazines and featured in prestigious collections such as American Illustration and the Society of Illustrators. Having a foundation in oil painting and sculpture, Yao makes vibrant, graphic and narrative images that are influenced by her diverse experience. She has found herself on a week-long bus trip across the US at one moment and drawing portraits at a secret speakeasy in 1920’s garbs at another. She enjoys that her work covers a wide variety of subjects–ranging from posters for underground parties, editorial illustrations for world travel magazines, and even to covers for adult novels. However most importantly, Yao likes to tell stories. Yao Xiao believes that stories are a basic form of communication that helps to bring people together, and that in every story there is personal truth. Her job is to create these personal truths through her art, drawing upon real characters and emotions, but not being limited by the conventions of reality as we normally observe it.”

I’ve been a huge fan of Yao’s for a while now. Her art ranges from simple and beautiful to complex and exisquite. I’m always left breathless when she produces a final piece or even when she posts progress photos on her twitter page (which she does frequently).

Katelan Foisy
Twitter: @katelanfoisy

“Katelan Foisy is a visual artist who specializes in collage and acrylic mixed media paintings. Her ruminative mixed media collages often evoke a gamut of emotion through the rich layers and textural combinations. Her illustration clients have included, The Grammy Awards, Out Magazine, The Progressive and many others.  Her collaged portraits and  mixed-media paintings have graced the pages of Scholastic Books and the walls of Young & Rubicam. Ensemble Studio Theater even had her work grace their stage. She was the art-director for Constellation Magazine from 2007-2010.”

I feel very blessed to consider Katelan a friend. Since first meeting her a few years ago I can definitely say  that she has a way of bringing out artistic inspiration in others. Her work is very honest and beautiful, sometimes evoking the luxurious decadence of the cabaret and absinthe lifestyle, but never forgetting the dark side of things. You never feel just one emotion with her pieces, and I really appreciate that. And although I did mention it up top, I have to thank her here as well for being an instigator in my thought process for this post.

Bill “Oddbill” Cunningham
Twitter: @oddbill

“I Iike the way the chalk feels, the clouds of loose technicolor dust I have to blow off the paper, talking to the women who sit for me, translating them into completely nonsensical colors. What I hope is that there is something engaging about these pictures, that they catch your eye the way they did mine as I drew them. It’s really no more complicated than that.”

There are many things that stick out about Bill’s pieces. The line work, the shading…but for me the colours he uses are what stay in my mind long after I’ve seen them. Each piece instantly catches the eye and you find yourself wanting to see more.


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Hey Now!

I think there’s a good chance that some of you are here after seeing Now Magazine’s article “Breaking the (beer)glass ceiling” in their spectacular Toronto Beer Guide put together by the equally spectacular Sarah Parniak. I’m in there with Mary-Beth Keefe from Granite Brewery and Mirella Amato from Beerology, both fantastic, world-class folks who you should go check out.

Also go check out that picture of Idris Elba. I haven’t been able to take my eyes off it. Sploosh.

So, hey there! Welcome to the site! Take your coat off, have a seat, close the door you’re letting the cold air out. I guess some introductions are in order here.

My name is Robin LeBlanc and I write about beer and beer-related things. Every now and then I go on TV and radio to talk about the amazing local beers and breweries as well. I was the only Canadian finalist in Saveur Magazine’s Food Blog Awards for the Wine & Beer category and even got featured on their Sites We Love column.  I like to keep things pretty casual on here, so if you’re looking for some lingo-heavy articles and industry gossip/internet outrages I’m afraid we’re fresh out.

By day I’m a mild-mannered freelance photographer and copy editor who is currently relying on a fantastic combination of coffee, rockabilly and classical music to stay awake. Most of the photos on this site are my own.

I have a twitter account at @TheThirstyWench

Also a Thirsty Wench Facebook Page

And if you want to contact me, day or night, I can be reached via e-mail at

Please feel free to look around! I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I enjoy writing them.

Now without further ado, Myron, take it away.


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City & Colour & Beer: Flying Monkeys City and Colour Imperial Maple Wheat


‘I love beer. When someone approaches you and asks “would you like to collaborate on your very own signature beer flavor?” You say “yes”‘

So says Dallas Green aka City and Colour, the former Alexisonfire frontman and St. Catherine’s, Ontario musician whose fourth and most recent offering, The Hurry and the Harm, hit shelves early last month and promptly went to #1 on the Canadian charts.

With such obvious talent it comes as no surprise that Barrie-based Flying Monkeys Brewery reached out to Dallas to create a collaboration beer.

The beer is part 2 of the brewery’s Treble Cleff Series, which makes collaboration brews with Canadian musical talent. The first in the series, the BNL Imperial Chocolate Stout made with the Barenaked Ladies, was met with much success and frankly, tasted amazing.

This beer, however, is much different (though no less big). City and Colour Imperial Maple Wheat beer. At 11.5% ABV, it’s made with Ontario Maple Syrup and Fair-Trade Organic Bourbon Vanilla Pods. The decision to go with something distinctly Canadian was an easy one and what better ingredient than Maple Syrup? From there, Peter Chiodo and Head Brewer Paul Buttery set to work developing the beer, with Dallas himself appearing for a brew day “The highlight of my time there was seeing how enthusiastic Peter and the rest of the flying monkeys gang were about beer.” Dallas recalls. “It reminded me of how I feel about music”. The bottle/box art as well, put together by Andrea Chiodo and and Bruce Chalmers, was directly inspired by the many tattoos of Dallas Green and captured the simple yet complex style that City & Colour invokes.

The beer made a public showcase at last week’s Session Toronto and will be seeing an LCBO launch tomorrow (July 4th) at the Summerhill location from 4pm to 7pm, with Dallas himself attending to sign bottles. It will also see a Western Canada release thanks to distribution by the 49th Parallel Group.

Now on to the review. I got to try this beer on Canada Day, which was pretty fitting with the Maple Syrup notes.

Before I go in to it, I have to say this: SHARE THIS BEER. I’m sure if you were determined enough you could have the bottle to yourself, but this really is a beer worth sharing with friends, family and loved ones. Music makes a good pairing as well. Dallas suggests playing the whole of The Hurry and The Harm and slowly sipping it.

COLOUR: Ruby Red.

AROMA: MAPLE MAPLE MAPLE. This has a very dominating maple scent that, similar to the chocolate notes in the BNL beer, just take over the space. The Vanilla is in there though.

TASTE: Of course the very real Maple Syrup notes hit first, and they hit really hard. Vanilla closely follows with a slight alcohol burn in the middle (the bourbon?). The whole thing wraps up nicely at the end with with a touch of sweetness and the elegant final twist of Maple. When had cold, it reminds me of moments in Pioneer Village tasting maple sap that had been chilling in the ice. When the beer warms in the glass, it gets notciebly stickier in mouthfeel and the alcohol burn becomes a bit more present.

VERDICT: You know, this past spring I had pretty much written off Maple Beers as something that just wouldn’t appeal to me. This…seems different to me somehow. I’m hesitant to say this is an excellent dessert beer, and it is, but it seems more suited to a good Canadian breakfast of bacon, eggs, pancakes and coffee. Especially pancakes. Have to say, I developed a craving for it while drinking the beer.

I can’t drink much of this like I could with the BNL beer (One snifter glass full suited me just fine), but it’s a beer that sticks in your mind after a while and is an absolute joy to drink. I wrote in my notes that it’s “Canadian as %*$#” and you know? It may be the patriotism talking, but I think that’s a pretty good descriptor for it, as it invokes a lot of memories for me (see above in the taste section for one of them). I think I’m going to save a bottle for winter though, to see how well it pairs with the season that Canadians are known for.

Here’s the title track for City and Colour’s Hurry and the Harm.

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