Pittsburgh breweries offer beer labels as palettes for local artists | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh breweries offer beer labels as palettes for local artists

click to enlarge Pittsburgh breweries offer beer labels as palettes for local artists (3)
Photo: Courtesy of Dancing Gnome
Dancing Gnome Lustra Pale Ale with label design by Atiya Jones
As the Pittsburgh beer scene continues to explode, the chances for creativity around it only increase. One of these avenues is through beer label design. This has long been a way for breweries to express themselves and have fun with their product, but with more and more saturation, it has become an essential piece of branding for many. And some Pittsburgh breweries are using it as a chance to connect with the local arts scene.

Dancing Gnome has been at the forefront of using local artists for their can artwork. This year, following the November 2021 opening of a brand new taproom and redesign, the Sharpsburg brewery is reimagining some of its classic brands and updating them for 2022.

Each month, DG will release a beer with a Pittsburgh artist on the label, highlighting the work of those who may not otherwise be in the craft beer industry. This starts with Lustra, their OG Pale Ale. Artist Atiya Jones has reimagined the design in four different variations, available together in limited-edition four packs. 

“It’s exciting to be working with local Pittsburgh artists to feature their work in a different manner, and be a part of the local Pittsburgh art scene and hyper-local Sharpsburg scene," says DG founder Andrew Witchey.

Curated by Matthew Buchholz of Alternate Histories and Ashley Devine of YEAHYELHSA, the year-long project will feature the work of 12 different Pittsburgh-area artists, and is described in a press release as helping to "bring visibility and opportunity to artists who might not normally work in the craft beer industry."

“It’s exciting to be able to feature such a wide variety of local artists in what feels like a pretty natural collaboration between two flourishing communities in
Pittsburgh," says Devine.

Fans of DG can also expect to see designs by illustrator Morgan Whitlow for the Spy Dolphin Double IPA in February, and by painter Wavy Wednesday for the Jam IPA in March. Other artists will be announced as the series progresses.

The beers can be purchased in person at Dancing Gnome (1025 Main St., Sharpsburg) or through DancingGnomeBeer.com.

Previously, DG had done a monthly beer release featuring a can designed by a Pittsburgh artist, in collaboration with a nonprofit. This included their Watershed Series, a group of 2021 beers created with Nine Mile Run Watershed Association that featured interactive labels highlighting features of Pittsburgh’s watershed systems.
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Photo: Courtesy of Joe Wos and Acclamation Brewing
The Squonk Double IPA from Acclamation Brewing
They’re not the only local brewery to highlight artists in their latest releases. The Verona-based Acclamation Brewing commissioned local cartoonist Joe Wos to artwork for a Cryptid Catchers series being released through May.

Featuring monsters of lore, the series kicks off with The Squonk, a Double IPA named after a Pennsylvania cryptid known for its excessive crying. The beer will debut on Fri., Feb. 18 during a family-friendly release party that will also feature Wos’ original artwork to view and purchase.

“Beer cans are more than just containers for liquid happiness, they are collectible works of art," says Wos. "I am happy to partner with Acclamation Brewing on this creative endeavor and will be hand signing each can proudly during the beer release party.”

As 3 Rivers Comicon prepares to return in June at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Helltown Brewing is re-releasing a few of their special bottles that come with artwork honoring the convention. Available now at their taprooms in Mount Pleasant and Export are three Barrel-Aged stouts, the 2016 Darkest Dawn, 2017 Beeredeemable, and 2018 Witchblade. Made in collaboration with New Dimension Comics, the labels are another example of Pittsburgh’s craft beer community weaving itself into the city's creative cultural fabric.

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