By Doug Gilbert – Brand and Marketing Manager
Hop Stuff Brewery recently had our first artistic collaboration for our new seasonal brew – a Mandarina Bavaria hopped Vienna Lager. We partnered with Quite Good Cards, a pair of brothers who design alternative greeting cards out of East London, to create the name and tap badge art for the beer. Basically, we gave them the keys to visually style our beer. This marks a new step for our seasonal releases where we seek to collaborate with like-minded local creatives – let’s have a beer and creative something new.
So let me share a bit about Quite Good Cards – brothers, Eddie and James.
The cards are wry, witty and very rarely make any reference to occasion (eg. There are very few birthday cards in the portfolio) The brothers work together on a concept, then the artistic brother, Eddie Ward, hand illustrates the artwork. If you haven’t checked out their website by now (or seen them at London’s Broadway Market on a Saturday), their humour hinges on the dry, punny and sometimes dark. Most cards pair likenesses of celebrities with an unlikely meeting of concepts; famous editions include ‘Adele Boy’, ‘Drake O’Malfoy’ and ‘Jeremy Irons’. As you can imagine, Adele looks like Del Boy, Drake looks like the Harry Potter antagonist and Jeremy Irons….is ironing his shirts. If they sound cheesy, don’t be so sure. Eddie’s attention to detail and elegant skill with brush or pencil prevent the cards from hitting ‘dad joke’ territory, with a dry and knowing delivery.
When I was looking for artists with whom to collaborate, I stumbled upon their off-centre gallery of puns at Broadway Market. Upon perusing the first few cards I was sniggering, then gaffawing, and soon I was laughing aloud and Snapchatting all my favourites. I got in touch with the brothers via their website, and they were keen to do something with the Brewery.
I caught up with Eddie and James (the businessy brother) to have a beer and talk about producing something new together, as independent companies who trade on creativity. We vibed on a few shared challenges in the hustle-life of small business, discussed the direction Hop Stuff is going, and chatted about how the alternative greeting card scene is going. While they want to keep their unique cards this as their staple business, the guys are keen to branch out more and test their mettle. In a similar vein, Hop Stuff want to navigate through craft beer’s cliché traps, and tread fresh ground.
So, we embarked on doing something neither party had seen before and agreed to work together on the Vienna Lager seasonal brew. Given its Austrian heritage, they went with a Sigmund Freud theme and called it ‘Freudian Strip’ (on account of the great psychologist’s fascination with the sexy). The sly pun fit perfectly with both brands and the artwork process was set in motion. They produced the first draft and we were all in hysterics. It passed the test: James Ward says that if he and Eddie produce a concept and are both laughing, then it goes to print. And a grim-faced Sigmund Freud gripping a stripper pole in the nude made us all giggle.
Freudian Strip is now due for wide release and we couldn’t be more excited. We’ve already sold it at the Brewers’ Market and the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, and the artwork has had great reception. Many laughs, photos and bemused fascination. Not only that, the beer has been selling like crazy; the first to sell out at both events with great feedback from craft-beer lovers and lager drinkers alike.
We couldn’t be more proud. For Hop Stuff Brewery, the idea of collaborating with artists is about illustrating what craft beer means to us. The rule of ‘if it makes us laugh, it goes to print’ is perfect. We want to create beers that are a means to create a shared experience amongst people – where people can take that first sip, pause and say, “shit that’s nice”.
We’ll look forward to sharing a few beers with the guys from Quite Good Cards on launch night – just to well-and-truly test that the Freudian Strip goes down as well as it looks.
Looking forward to the next one, too! We see this as the first of many for our seasonal beers – where we can have a beer with local independents to celebrate creativity and do cool shit.