September 20, 2010

Two by Shmaltz and Three by Magic Hat

Readers of this blog know that the Curator loves no brewery's sense of humor and zaniness more than that of the fine Tribesmen at Shmaltz Brewing Company. So let's take a look at some of Matt Polacheck's newer work.

The RIPA on Rye is a barrel-aged form of the Bittersweet Lenny's RIPA, and the art is (as one might expect) derivative. Here's the original:
And here's the barrel aged art:
The marquee light frame remains, and the essential composition is the same. The marquee in the frame now sports a more throwback look with old-timey lettering, and the whole image has been sepia-toned. Rather than the face of Lenny, we get the Shmaltz face and a more low-key RIP to Lenny Bruce on the left. Instead of a black background to bring out the feeling of a NYC nightclub, we have wood grain and barrels to make us feel like the whole thing is aged, laid-back, and roasty smooth.

Incidentally, this beer just won a medal at Great American Beer Festival for the barrel-aged category.

Every year, Shmaltz releases a Rejewvenator beer infused with a crop of the year. This year is the year of the grape.
It's much brighter and more verdant than previous editions (which have featured fig, pomegranate and other such delicious ingredients). I like this a lot; it's rare that you can see yellow paired with green and purple without it looking harsh. The use of the vine leaves - both the large green one in the center and the washout small ones on the sides - really bring the piece together. Yes, that was an intentional Lebowski reference.

Let's look at some of the newer work by Magic Hat:
At one point I spent some time in Mexico, so I'm biased here. I love the Dia de Los Muertos theme, and the dancing, happy, colorful skeletons perfectly connote the bright flavors of a wit that has green apple and coriander involved.

Replacing Roxy Rolles in the rotation is the Hex Ourtoberfest:
I guess the theme for Magic Hat is "creepy" now? Seriously, this is a weird label. The black and red with wispy white color palette definitely gives it a spooky feel. I like the idea of ghosts sharing a pint. Not sure what the ghostly pig is doing there. The wrought iron gate is a bit much, I think, given how much they're already doing with three colors at the bottom of the label. It just gets in the way.

Lastly, let's look at a vastly improved label:
Okay, now look at the old one:
Yeah. That was a good use of time and resources. The first one was boring, staid, and not well-composed. The new one, though, shines. Great vibrant color, lots of movement, good red-blue contrast, and some excellent thinking in composition. The arm draws the eye up and divides the image well. The new curtains have an extra layer that not only frames the image but adds a depth and dimensionality.

The real difference, though, is the level of thought and planning. I love the plaid flannel shirt with the unbuttoned sleeve; those are great artistic decisions to add some realism and folksiness. It changes the scene from boilerplate to personal and engaging. I know, it's small, but that's the point. Often, it's the tiny decisions, the ones that we barely notice, that separate a decent or good image from a great one.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy the Hex label. I agree that the pig snout is almost distractingly random, although upon close inspection, it looks as if these ghosts are in Halloween costumes (i.e. the pig face is a mask). Still, there's something to be said for art which draws one in with oddly un-apropos semi-sequiturs like a random human pig at a ghastly theirtoberfest...

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