We talk a lot about the intersection of beer and art; its impact on the drinking experience and how a redesign can completely change the perception of a brewery. The act of sipping on a beer and taking in its packaging are increasingly inseparable. Collective Arts Brewing, just outside of Toronto, Canada, not only gets that, but will celebrate it at a two-day beer, art and music festival on June 15 and 16.
“Our philosophy is basically fusing the creativity of brewing with the inspired talents of emerging arts and musicians,” said co-founder Matt Johnston on a rooftop in Nashville, Tennessee, where Collective Arts held its party during the recent Craft Brewers Conference. In the background, a DJ spun jams, a fire dancer readied her flaming batons and street artists transformed the walls of the parking deck.
The brewery’s upcoming Liquid Art Festival promises to bring all that and more to Hamilton, Ontario, including 50 breweries as well as sets from Mt. Joy and Charly Bliss. And then there’s the 2,500-square-feet of murals that will tower three-stories above the crowd. They will be painted during the duration of the fest by artists Cone, Vidam and Rookie of the Weird crew as well as Loch Ness. The latter is no stranger to creating art to be enjoyed alongside beer. His work has appeared on several Collective Arts cans.
The most recent can to sport his work will be the drink of choice at Liquid Art Fest. Appropriately dubbed Liquid Arts Fest IPA, the hazy IPA is part of a series of limited edition Collective Project IPA and was brewed specially for the fest. “It’s a big, bright milkshake IPA,” Johnston said. “We added passionfruit and mango. We’re just excited to get the word out there for the festival and create a lot of attention for it.”
This thick-as-syrup IPA is sure to turn a few heads. A prime contender for the “is this beer or orange juice?” challenge, Liquid Art Fest IPA tastes like a heavily hopped glass of mango lassi. Pair it with some gobi manchurian and a side of naan. Each sip finishes with a sharp hop bitterness that lingers long after the fruity sweetness has worn off. The vanilla notes take a backseat to the fruit and hop flavors, but it’s a memorable beer nonetheless.
The Loch Ness-designed can features a cartoon hop flower turned into a monster-like figure with a hat on its stem and eyes popping out of its “head.” According to Johnston, “We just love him—he creates these amazing, quirky, cool characters that come to life and jump off the can.” In Collective Arts’ four-year history, the brewery has worked with over 400 artists to create one-of-a-kind labels.
“It’s like a rejuvenating cycle. We’re inspired by the artist we work with and they inspired us to continue pushing our beer portfolio to be as creative and diverse as the artists,” Johnston said. “When we started Collective Arts we never wanted to be about one individual beer or one piece of art, we wanted to be grassroots and always changing.”