Ruination IPA – Stone Brewing Co.

Beer Label Reviews on September 17th, 2012 No Comments

The gargoyle is a key branding element for Stone Brewing Company, it appears on all their beers. The gargoyle is badass by any measure, but when you start research the historical context of a gargoyle you can see why this creature is a perfect guardian for the bottles of Stone. Gargoyles are rooted in architecture as a design element that serves the key purpose of removing drain water from roofs and possibly warding off evil spirits. Gargoyles are made of stone, so that’s a no brainer, however it is the word “gargoyle” that has other meaningful roots that I think go nicely with a bottle of beer.

From Wikipedia:

The term originates from the French gargouille, which in English most likely means “throat” or is otherwise known as the “gullet”;[2] cf. Latin gurgulio, gula, gargula (“gullet” or “throat”) and similar words derived from the root gar, “to swallow”, which represented the gurgling sound of water (e.g., Spanish garganta, “throat”; Spanish gárgola, “gargoyle”).

“Throat” “gullet” “to swallow”- Concept is king in my book and the selection of a gargoyle to be the steward of your brand is pretty brilliant to me. Now whether the designer of the Stone brand took all this into consideration or was just relying on the fact that gargoyles just kick ass in general is unknown. Regardless, the Stone Ruination bottle – with is etched on label and stark graphic treatment – is unmistakable and a beautiful work of package design. Like most well executed high-end brands, Stone shows excellent restraint in its design and finds a perfect balance of high-class and badass. 


Homegrown Hop Harvest

Ben's Journal, How To on September 5th, 2012 No Comments

No other plant produces a more beautiful crop for the beer lover than the Humulus Lupulus or Hop plant. Each season starts around May or June around my house, where the hearty hop plant breaks the ground’s surface and begins it’s ascent up the fence of my old dog kennel and beyond. I used to create elaborate structures of string and boards, but I’ve found out of laziness that cutting up a tall fallen tree and tying it up vertically seems to make for the best trellis.


During dry spells I do make the effort to water the plants daily in the summer, but mostly the vines take care of themselves. With a good fertilizer on the base and maybe a little trimming after they’ve grown a few feet- you’re good to go. The trimming consists of letting the plants grow a few feet and really looking for the strongest vines, then I cut back a bunch of the weaker vines so the plant’s energy focuses on the main vines. Sometimes I’ll point the ends of the growing plant in the direction I’d like it to grow, and during peak growing, the plant latches on within a few hours and continues it’s climb in a new direction. That is one of my favorite parts of growing hops, seeing the growth within hours, not days, during peak growing.


I’ve read many articles about hop growing and one of the biggest issues that people have are insects eating their plants. A few bugs like aphids, caterpillars and spider mites would love nothing more than to eat your precious plants. There are a number of remedies for theses problems like spraying with insecticides, garlic oil, and detergents. Fortunately for me, I have a powerful ally in the protection of my hops. The spiders.

My plants are guarded by some of the baddest eight legged creatures you have ever seen. Brown ones, black ones, big ones, small ones. Every time I’ve seen destruction of a section of a plant, my favorite garden predators soon resolve the problem. Spiders set up shop and consider my infestation their own personal buffet. It’s fascinating to watch. All summer long this battle takes place and I love it – that is until harvest time. Then I have to personally get in the fray.


Harvest day is always an event. Some people do multiple harvests, but I just get it done in one day. Long pants, a long sleeve shirt and maybe some vinyl gloves make up my outfit. The clothing is necessary because the prickly vines that cling tend to irritate my skin. Harvesting hops is not for the weak of heart. The spiders I mentioned before are around every corner, not to mention some of the visitors like this toad I found hanging out at the base of my plants. There’s nothing really pretty about harvesting hops, just pick off the cones and dump them in a bucket. They should have a papery feel and smell very fragrant.


I try to keep my buckets of hops separated by plant since I’m not quite sure of the variety of my different plants.


SIDE NOTE: My hops are either East Kent Goldings, Fuggles or Cascades. Long story short, but my plants came from my father who got them from the University of Oregon back in the seventies. He has since long forgotten what types they where. So we know what they COULD be, but are not sure exactly what they are.

Before I vacuum seal up my hop crop I like to dry them as much as possible. An old window screen and a couple of fans do the trick for me. The hops are spread out and set to dry for about a day and a half. Then I use a food sealer to bag up the crop. I always try to brew a “Harvest Ale” with the freshest hops and the rest go in the freezer. My homegrown hops are used for flavor or dry hop additions in my recipes, this is because I do not know the alpha acids of my crop and I’m not quite sure of the variety. So I just go with smell and flavor.

Hops dry on a screen with fans blowing on them for about a day and a half.


I hope this is helpful for some folks interested in growing their own hops. Keep it simple. Growing hops is just a fun addition to the brewing hobby. There are other benefits to growing hops; I like to use my hop vines for decorations and in label designs sometimes. Get yourself some bines (roots), throw them in the ground and watch them grow like weeds. (Oh yeah, hops are a relative of weed as in marijuana, but that’s another blog post.) If you have any questions feel free to ask, I’d be happy to share what I know. I’m also going to include a few links that I’ve found helpful for growing hops. Sláinte.


Helpful Links

Hop Descriptions –

Growing –

Growing in Containers –

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Brooklyn Lager – Brooklyn Brewery

Beer Label Reviews on August 28th, 2012 No Comments

A big B and star studded. The famous Milton Glaser designed this label, or at least his company designed it. You may know some of his other work like the “I [heart] NY” campaign and the Bob Dylan poster that was done for Columbia Records.  Few labels stand out on the shelves like Brooklyn Brewery’s Big B. It has a nice simple design with a few good classic elements like the stars and the large script B.  The Brooklyn labels are very graphic in nature. No photographs or detailed illustrations, just good strong color palettes and bold graphics. The phrase “Pre-Prohibition Style” sits on top of the Brooklyn crest and supports the vintage approach to the label design. Think of all the pre-prohibition beers and their label designs-Piels, Pabst, Bud- most of them have no photographs, just unique graphic elements that proudly display the breweries name. The brewery is the focus, not the particular beer, which these days is very often the case. Grab that “B”,  and you know your getting a good beer – that’s what good package design is all about isn’t it?

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Hennepin – Ommegang Brewery

Beer Label Reviews on August 18th, 2012 No Comments

Belgium beers are kind of uncharted waters for me, so the fact that this label has plenty of details for best enjoyment is nice. The serving temperature lets me know to take this beer out of the fridge a bit before I drink it and the “bottle conditioned” reminds me to get myself a glass so I’m not swilling large quantities of yeast. The colors of this label are really nice and the design is unique. It’s part historical looking, part comic strip. The fonts are all over the place but work well together. I like how the Belgium dude has a speech bubble with an exclamation mark. What that exclamation means I guess depends on what you taste in the bottle. It could mean “Bold Intense Beer!” or “This Beer Sucks!” (I doubt it sucks, it’s from Ommegang).

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Fuller’s ESB – Fuller’s Griffin Brewery

Beer Label Reviews on July 31st, 2012 No Comments

Since London is hosting the Olympics I thought it only fitting to review a British beer label.  Fuller’s ESB proclaims that it is a ”Champion Ale” with some graphics of gold metals to support this claim. No, these metals are not Olympic Golds, but rather represent the winning of CAMRA’s (Campaign for Real Ale) Beer of the Year Award many times. This label is regal indeed; it has a royal color palette of red, blue and gold. The label has a classic shield shape and a heraldic griffin that sits on top defending a keg of beer. I think the thing I like most about this label is that it has all the stylings of a classic, historic brew, but the look doesn’t feel dated due to its very crisp and vibrant design. A shiny paper stock and a healthy dose of what I like to call “God Rays” (those rays of light shooting out from behind) makes for a label that would make the Queen Mum proud. To bad beer drinking isn’t an Olympic event, that would be fun although we would have to rethink the whole standing on a podium thing.

Baby Bath Bubble Beer

Ben's Journal, Drinking on July 24th, 2012 No Comments

bubble beer

I’m a home brewer. I make beer to share with my friends and family, but this latest concoction I just had to share with the world. While giving my son a bath on a Friday night I placed my beer down next to the baby shampoo and BAM, it hit me. Baby Bath Bubble Beer. Just pour some Johnson’s Shampoo in a glass and top it off with some suds. It’s not delicious, it’s not relevant, actually it’s pretty stupid but hey it’s makes for a cool picture. Maybe I’ll use it on an upcoming label design. Hopefully nobody calls the Department of Children and Families on me for this post. Cheers.

No children were harmed in the making of this concoction; in fact the only side effect was a clean head of hair.

– Ben

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Bad Phil – Three Barrel Brewing Company

Beer Label Reviews on July 19th, 2012 No Comments

Bad Phil Label

Who the hell is Bad Phil? Not sure, I never tasted the beer and I never heard of the brewery, but the rooster looks like he means business. England is kind of known for naming there pubs after animals, particularly roosters. “The Cock and Bull” and “The Cock and Bottle” and “The Golden Cock” are just a couple examples. (Side note: check out this cool pub name generator.) Anyways, even though this is a brewery in Colorado I like how they pay tribute to England with the rooster. Bad Phil is portrayed nicely with a simple watercolor image, or maybe drawn with markers. I don’t see the alcohol listed on the label but it’s implied that this beer might have a bit of a kick to it. The shape of the label is really interesting as well, the die-cut and ribbons give the label a classic feel. Cool label, if I make it out to Colorado some day I will try to make it out to Three Barrel Brewing to grab some samples. Their website says they’re along headwaters of the Rio Grande so I’m sure there’s some spectacular fishing around there, ah Colorado.

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Pull Up A Stool For Man’s Best Friend

Custom Labels, Jill's Journal on July 17th, 2012 No Comments

Photo from

After a long day of scratching, lying on the couch and barking at the mailman you know the best way to take a load off is to crack open a nice frosty brew and relax- and now Fido can join your repertoire with a Bowser Beer. Yessir, that’s right- beer for dogs! The good folks over at 3 Busy Dogs came up with this libation sensation after an extensive pooch panel research team picked the paws-down winning recipe of all natural, non-alcoholic thirst-quenching ingredients. Being that The Studio Pub is a dog-loving bunch I just thought this idea was something to howl about! I also love that they make custom labels to go with their canine brew in the same way we do for your creations-and that’s nothing to sniff at folks. Check us out and fetch some of your own at and by: Jill


Shark Pants – De Struise Brouwers and 3Floyds Brewing Company

Beer Label Reviews on July 9th, 2012 No Comments

This 3Floyds/De Struise Brouwers label seems to be out of production, but it’s such a funky concept I had to do a short review. Sharks are badass. Gorillas are badass. Gorillas wearing shark pants with rainbow suspenders are the ultimate in badass-ism. The gorilla has “#1 Dad” on his belt buckle, perhaps letting you know “who’s your daddy?” There isn’t much info on this label, which leads me to believe that there must be a back label or that it wasn’t really distributed commercially. The type and colors give this label a kind of a surfer feel. I dig it. Reminds me of those t-shirts you find on touristy boardwalks. Just by looking at this label I’m going to assume this is a strong, ass-kicking beer to be enjoyed at your leisure. Good stuff.

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Lobster and Beer.

Ben's Journal, Booze and Food Pairings, Drinking on June 29th, 2012 No Comments

Lobster Pot

There are few things greater in this world than a nice light refreshing ale and a freshly steamed lobster.  This combination really takes summer eating to a new level. There is something about having salt on the skin from a day at the beach that makes me crave seafood and a beer. Beer can be filling and most times I stick to appetizers or snacks when drinking to keep me from getting that beached whale sensation. Lobster on the other hand is a light entrée that really makes you work for those tasty bits, leaving plenty of room to wash it all down with a refreshing beverage.

Good with lobster.

Here’s how I like to enjoy lobster and beer.

Forget the cheap plastic bib, they look ridiculous and if your lucky you should already be covered in salt and seaweed, so a little bit of lobster juice isn’t going to hurt anyone. A boiled lobster, a little drawn butter and maybe some corn on the cob covered in salt and butter. Keep it simple. Get yourself a nice summer beer, may I suggest Berkshire Brewing Company’s Steel Rail Pale Ale or maybe an Anchor  Liberty Ale.  You want something lighter in color, a light lager will go nicely too but don’t be getting that mass produced fizzy lager, get some good quality craft beer that has flavor. When you sit down to this meal I guarantee you will find complete bliss – before during and after consumption. There’s also nothing like sharing this experience with friends, I like the strange silence that occurs when people gather to crack lobsters and drink beer. Then the meal is usually followed by sighs of satisfaction and usually another beer. So to recap – Beer, Lobster, butter, beer, corn, salt, beer and more butter. Perfect. Sláinte.


– Ben

Here is a short list of beers that pair well with lobster.
Feel free to add some suggestions in the comments below.

Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin Ale

Anchor Liberty Ale

Berkshire Steel Rail Pale Ale

Victory Prima Pils

Smuttynose Farmhouse Ale (Saison)

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