John Casey Combines Art and Beer for The Trappist

Photos © Brian Stechschulte / Artwork © John Casey

Every time you walk into a bottle store, beer fights for your attention. Row after row of tasty options entice you with help from label artwork. Sure, you might have a taste for an IPA or the latest must have Imperial Stout, but more than you might want to admit, what’s wrapped around that bottle, has an influence on your buying habits, especially if it’s a new beer. Design and marketing play a key role on labels, t-shirts and any other trinket a brewery or bar decides to sell. Artists play a big role and often don’t get credit beyond a paycheck or free beer.

Shortly after The Trappist opened its doors in Oakland, artist John Casey wandered in and not only discovered the wider world of craft beer, but also developed a creative relationship with the owners, Aaron Porter and Chuck Stilphen. He’s designed several successful t-shirts for the bar and their collaboration beer label for Evil Twin’s Wet Dream.

Casey’s Oakland studio

Casey earned a Bachelors of Fine Art from MassArt in Boston and arrived in the Bay Area with his wife back in 1998 during the dot com bubble. They both worked in the tech industry and Casey’s been exhibiting his artwork around the region and in far-flung cities like Paris. He describes his work as, “Surrealistic, kind of fun and trippy.”

When he met Porter and Stilphen a few years ago, he was getting a little tired of the traditional West Coast IPA. According to Casey, “I was looking for something a little more interesting and malty. I went into The Trappist and started chatting with them about beer and just got more and more interested in what they were serving. After awhile, I gave Aaron and Chuck some stickers and they were intrigued by my work.”

For the most part Casey doesn’t do commercial work, but has made a few exceptions. His first t-shirt design for The Trappist featured a guy on a tricycle with hops bursting out of his head. The t-shirt sold out and the creative relationship continued when Porter and Stilphen asked him to design a label for their 2011 collaboration beer with Evil Twin called Wet Dream. It’s a brown IPA infused with espresso that debuted at the Copenhagen Beer Festival.

Casey’s first t-shirt design for The Trappist

Casey had never designed a beer label before, but was interested in the challenge, especially because he’s given a lot of creative leeway. For the Wet Dream label Casey considered several different options. He said, “I could have used some really obvious image connotations. Some early proofs had some splattering paint, but I decided to lean more towards dream because wet seemed so obvious. The challenge was combining the logos and three distinct fonts, while trying to follow Evil Twin’s previous label format.”

Proofs went back and forth between Casey and Evil Twin’s graphic designer before it was finalized. The label size changed multiple times and a few accommodations were made for the American market. In the end, Casey kept the label artwork and color pretty minimal. The design was featured on a t-shirt and logo glassware that you can still find at the bar.

Casey’s latest project for The Trappist went on sale back in March. It’s another playful t-shirt design featuring a torso less figure with hops flying out of his pants, the bar’s name resting on his forehead and gold teeth that spell Oakland. It’s the perfect representation of the hop crazed beer geek.

Casey’s latest t-shirt design for The Trappist

When asked if he works for free, money or beer, Casey said, “We come to a beer agreement and they’ve always been very good to me. They like the work, they’re pretty open to it, and if I meet them part way, it’s because I do want to promote the beer. It’s not just about the artwork.”

Two recent sculptures

Walnut Creek Welcomes the ØL Beercafe & Bottle Shop

Photos © Brian Stechschulte

“Walnut Creek has been screaming for a place like this.” – Anonymous ØL Beercafe Patron

Chuck Stilphen must have heard that sentiment echoing through the East Bay hills when he set out to open the ØL Beercafe & Bottle Shop in Walnut Creek. As co-owner of the successful Trappist bar in Oakland, he already has a pulse on craft beer’s surging popularity. His five-week-old venue fills a void in a thirsty and growing community.

According to Stilphen “the Walnut Creek area seemed to be lacking in any quality beer places. Created with the spirit of The Trappist, we developed a plan to create a hybrid bottle shop and beer cafe, roughly using the business model of a few places in Portland and City Beer Store in San Francisco, but taken up a notch in design and comfort.

ØL Beercafe is located on a quiet downtown street just a half mile from the Walnut Creek BART station. In case you’re wondering, ØL is Danish for beer and there’s plenty to choose from. Eighteen taps sit behind the bar located in the back of the establishment. Nearby, a six door cooler and small room enclosed by windows offers over 100 bottles to choose from that are priced to go, or you can pay a corkage fee ranging between $1 to $5 to drink them on-site.

Stilphen plans on extending the beer options to over 300 and explained that “whenever possible we try to duplicate our bottle selection to match the draft choices, so if you taste something you like you can bring some bottles home as well.“

At first glance the selection appears primarily Belgian oriented, but a healthy dose of craft beer styles from around the country are also available. Don’t worry hopheads, you’ll feel right at home with Sculpin and Pliny at your fingertips. You’ll also be happy to know they serve each beer in appropriate glassware and the staff is knowledgeable, polite and helpful with suggestions. They won’t hesitate to offer you a sample if you’re torn between two options.

Other then six bar stools, seating is primarily located just inside the entrance where brewery photos line the walls of the lofty yet cozy interior.  Every design element was thoughtfully considered from the vintage lighting to the rustic wooden tables, chairs, bar and doors that give the space an old European feel. Capacity is set at 50, which has been maxed out so far on Friday and Saturday evenings.

If you get hungry while your there a small snack menu is available, which includes a rotating selection of artisan cheeses, Fatted Calf sausage, jerky, olives and almonds. Need something a little more substantial? No worries, you’re allowed to bring in food from the outside. Stilphen is also negotiating with nearby Skipolini’s Pizza to make their pies easily available to customers.

ØL Beercafe is currently open from noon to 11pm daily and expect them to host a steady stream of special events. On Saturday, October 29th, it’s Meet the Brewer night with Ale Industries, who will be featuring their new Pumpkin Ale, East Bay IPA and a rare barrel aged beer.

Craft Brewers Conference Public Events

Are you feeling left out during this weeks Craft Brewer’s Conference? No worries, although the conference is only for industry professionals there are special public events happening every night this week around the Bay. If your looking to rub elbows with the pros or get your hands on great beer here’s a list of things to do:

Tuesday, March 22

Brewery Night: Deschutes Brewing
5:00pm, Hop Yard, 3015 Hopyard Rd., Pleasanton, CA.

Deschutes Brewing will have an arsenal of brew on hand along with Woody their barrel shaped beer dispenser on wheels.

Saison & Cheese Pairing
6:00pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd St., Oakland, CA.

Features the finest selection of Belgian & Belgian Inspired Saison & some very fancy stinky cheeses!

Deschutes Beer Pairing Dinner
6:00-9:00pm,  Monk’s Kettle, 3141 16th Street, San Francisco, CA.

“Deschutes Brewery Chef Matt Neltner and Monk’s Kettle Chef Adam Dulye collaborate to deliver a menu made for beer. The special menu, from which anyone visiting the restaurant can order, takes the expertise of these two chefs to create food and beer pairings that will kick off the week just right. On tap will be a large variety of Deschutes beers including: The Abyss 2010, The Abyss, 2009, Black Butte XXI, Hop Henge Experimental IPA, Red Chair NWPA, Mirror Mirror, Jubel 2010, Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Green Lakes Organic Ale. Visitors will also have a chance to discuss the beers and brewing processes with Deschutes Brewery brewer Robin Johnson.”

Wednesday, March 23

Drake’s Brewing Barrel Aged Beer Tasting
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Porky’s Pizza Palace, 1221 Manor Blvd, San Leandro, CA

“Join us at “The Palace” for an Exclusive Tasting of 8 different beers from San Leandro’s local brewery Drake’s Brewing Co., celebrating the Craft Brewers Conference Week in SF.
Some Limited, Barrel Aged & some of our favorite Drake offerings from
the past & present with a twist added!
1.2009 Jolly Roger-Imperial Brown Ale
2.Bourbon Barrel Aged 2009 Jolly Roger
3.Bourbon Barrel Aged Drakonic Imperial Stout
4.Exclusive CBC I.P.A.1/2 Brewed for CBC attendees and in limited
release-we have just 1 keg! Not quite a double IPA with a just right
balance of malt and hops!
5.1500 Dry Hopped Pale Ale(Nitro-Dispensed)adds a creamy body to one
of our favorite beers from Drake’s!(think hoppy Boddingtons)
6.Hop Salad-8% Agressively Hopped Limited Double IPA, a limited
release from mid-January, saved for this event, Cheers!
7.Hopocalypse Imperial IPA – Bronze Medal Winner at this years “The
Bistro” Double IPA Fest, 3rd out of a field of 56 other professional
judged Double IPA’s!
8.Alpha Sessions-American Session Ale-Lighter session ale with a big
hop character just 3.8% & 75IBU’s.
Serving Great Pizza, Chicken & Beer since 1963.”

Deschutes & Old Woody
6:00pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd St., Oakland, CA.

20 different beers from Deschutes Brewing will be on tap along with their beer barrel on wheels called Woody.

Deschutes Brewing Black Butte XXII CA Debut
8-11pm, The Republic, 3213 Scott Street, San Francisco, CA.

“This imperial bourbon-aged version of our popular Black Butte Porter, brewed in 2010 with chilies, dark chocolate and orange peel, is well worth a taste during its California debut. You may be familiar with Black Butte XX and XXI which were released to celebrate the Brewery’s past anniversaries, but because XXII was not available outside of our brew pubs, most have not had the pleasure of tasting this spectacular beer.”

Thursday, March 24

Northeast Night
Monk’s Kettle, 3141 16th St., San Francisco, CA.

“Two breweries not usually found in the Bay Area, Pretty Things Ales and Cambridge Brewing Company. Pretty Things, from the East Coast, will soon be available in this area; we will be pouring the first keg of their saison Jack d’Or to be found on this coast. We will also be pouring two drafts from Cambridge Brewing, Project Venus and Blunderbuss. Dann and Martha, owners of Pretty Things, and Will Myers, brewmaster of Cambridge, will be on hand for the evening.”

Craft Brewers Council Sierra Nevada, Russian River Collaboration Event
4:00pm, Public House, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA.

Come down to Public House for your chance to try Sierra Nevada and Russian River Brewing’s 2011 Collaboration Beer.

Brewery Night: Deschutes Brewing
4:00-8:00pm, The Englander, 101 Parrott St., San Leandro, CA.

Deschutes Brewing continues its invasion of the Bay Area this time in San Leandro. Deschutes beers will take over the taps along with Woody, their mobile beer dispensing wooden keg on wheels.

TCHO Chocolate & Brewers Supply Group Tasting
6:00-9:00pm, TCHO Factory, Pier 17, San Francisco, CA.

$25 entrance fee CASH ONLY includes tasting of brews and chocolate. Tickets may only be purchased at the door the night of the event. A portion of the event proceeds will be donated to the ALS Associaton. This event will be held at the TCHO factory on Pier 17. 6-9pm. 21 years and older ONLY.

Brewer’s Dinner
7:00-10:00pm, Pyramid Brewery, 901 Gilman St, Berkeley, CA.

Come enjoy an evening with the Pyramid Brewers & Chef! We’ll be serving up a savory 4-course meal paired with our deliciously crafted summer seasonal Curve Ball. Here are the details: Cost is $45 (all inclusive) and tickets must be purchased IN ADVANCE by calling (510) 527-9090 x223 -Limited to 20 seats
Menu:
PIGS IN A BLANKET
Pork Tenderloin wrapped in filo dough on baby mustard greens and Dijon apple sauce
HONEY FIG & GOAT CHEESE SALAD
Fig vinaigrette drizzled on frisee salad greens with honey candied figs and hand rolled almond covered goat cheese
ALMOND CRUSTED MAHI-MAHI
Crisp and buttery almonds coat Hawaii’s native mahi-mahi Served with julienne tropical relish of pineapple, mango, and apple
BOMBSHELL PARFAIT
Sugar covered green apples crown a creamy blend of caramelized blond apple parfait with sweet vanilla crème and crunchy granola

Deschutes Beer Tasting
8:00pm, Toronado, 547 Haight, San Francisco, CA 94122-2767

Join four Deschutes brewers for some beer and sausage. Rosamunde will be grilling up some of their best to wash down with a bit of any of the following beers: The Abyss, The Dissident, Mirror Mirror, Nitro The Abyss, Hop Henge Experimental IPA, Red Chair NWPA, Green Lakes Organic Ale and Mirror Pond Pale Ale.

Upright Brewing at The Trappist
8:00pm, The Trappist, 460 8th Street, Oakland, CA.

Upright Brewing brewers and representatives Ezra Johnson-Greenough and Ben Edmunds are in town for the Craft Brewers Conference and will be making a stop at the great beer bar The Trappist to pour some of their special brand of Farmhouse ales with a Pacific NW twist and will be bringing along some rare barrel-aged bottled treats.

Black Star’s Craft Brewers After Party
9:00pm, Boom Boom Room, 1601 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA.

“You’re invited to attend Black Star’s Craft Brewers After Party on Thursday, March 24th at The Boom Boom Room in San Francisco! Join us from 9pm until the bands stop at 2:15am! Meet Marcus Duffey from the Great Northern Brewing Company and Minott Wessinger, founder ofBlack Star while you enjoy live music, dancing and of course, some cold Black Star beers. If you are attending the Craft Brewers Conference or are a member of the beer/bar industry, present badge/industry ID for complementary VIP admission.

Friday, March 25

Dogfish Head Happy Hour
Urban Tavern, 333 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA.

Dogfish Head is hosting a tasting in Urban Tavern and will be pouring Aprihop, Midas Touch, Palo Santo Marron and 90 Minute IPA. Come join the Dogfish crew! Note: Urban Tavern is located inside the Hilton Hotel and specific event hours have not been listed. It will take place sometime Friday afternoon.

East Bay & North Bay Total Takeover!
4:00pm,  Beer Revolution, 464 3rd St., Oakland, CA.

Breweries from the East & North Bay will takeover the taps at Beer Revolution.

Firkin Friday
4:00-9:00pm, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, 1195 Evans, San Francisco, CA.

In celebration of the Craft Brewer’s Conference (CBC) landing in San Francisco, we have pulled out all the stops for this week’s party – including some new beers, live bands and delicious food. All pints are only $3.

Live music will kick off at 6:00.  Starting with the guitar jammin’ duo Andrew Blair and Ross Warner. The night will be closed out with a grass land stomp set from the The Easy Leaves. San Francisco’s Good Foods BBQ will serve delicious barbecue.  We’ll round that off with tasty Mexican food from local favorite La Laguna Taqueria.

In addition to featuring our regular line of beers, Friday will be the public debut of our new beer brewed special for the CBC called Snatch Racket India Pale Lager. Snatch Racket – named for the surge of kidnappings and ransoms in 1920’s during prohibition – is a unique blend of styles, a 6.5% full bodied lager dry-hopped like an IPA with all German hops. We’ll also be pulling a few rare aged beers from the cellar just for the night.

A Brewers Gathering
6:00pm, The Trappist, 460 8th Street, Oakland, CA.

“In attendance will be Jean Van Roy from Cantillon, Yvan de Baets from De La Senne, Jens from Haand Bryggeriet, Kjetil from Nogne-O, and Stephane, JP, and Luc from Dieu du Ciel! Your chance to meet some of the top brewers, innovators from five of the best breweries in the world! We will have several selections from each brewer on tap.”

Deschutes Beer Tasting
6:00pm, City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St Suite 101, San Francisco, CA.

Deschutes will be serving appetizers and bringing down some favorites and specials such as The Abyss, Jubel 2010, Mirror Mirror, Hop Henge Experimental IPA and Red Chair NWPA. Meet brewmaster, Larry Sidor, along with three other Deschutes brewers as they discuss this wide variety of beers.

Marrón Acidifié Kick-Off
7:00pm, Rosamunde Sausage Grill – Mission, 2832 Mission, San Francisco, CA.

The Bruery and Cigar City Brewing are psyched to release the fruit of their collaborative efforts during the Craft Brewer’s Conference. Join the brewers at Rosamunde Sausage Grill’s Mission location for the first public tapping of Marrón Acidifié. Over a year in barrels has left this 8.5% ABV “imperial oud bruin” layered with notes of cranberries, tropical fruits, leather and aged balsamic vinegar, balanced by wood tannins and roasted malt.

Saturday, March 26

Brewing up Cocktails with Ninkasi
5:00-9:00pm, 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna Street, San Francisco, CA.

Ninkasi owner/brewer and figurehead Jamie Floyd will be on hand, while Brewing up Cocktails mixologists Ezra Johnson-Greenough, Jacob Grier, and Yetta Vorobik will be behind the bar making a variety of beer cocktails. There will be one for each of Ninkasi’s year-round beers, including Wired Magazine’s Most Wired Beer Believer Double Red, Total Domination IPA, Tricerahops Double IPA, Oatis Oatmeal Stout, and seasonal release Spring Reign.

RateBeer’s Best of 2011 Awards, Bay Area Roundup

Awards season is upon us and the beer world is no exception. The folks at RateBeer in Santa Rosa have finished crunching data from nearly 3 million beer reviews on their website and a few Bay Area breweries, bars, restaurants and stores can stand a little taller today. According to RateBeer “130,000 beers from over 10,000 brewers worldwide were tallied and the emphasis was largely placed on tasting commercial samples — not special batches prepared for festivals.”

There are some very familiar names in each category but a few surprises will leave beer geeks disillusioned, particularly in the bar category. Here’s how the Bay Area faired:

The Best Beers in the World 2011

#3 Pliny the Younger, Russian River Brewing

#8 Pliny the Elder, Russian River Brewing

#20 Supplication, Russian River Brewing

#32 Consecration, Russian River Brewing

#81 Temptation, Russian River Brewing

#83 Blind Pig IPA, Russian River Brewing

The Best Brewers in the World 2011

#8 Russian River Brewing

#30 Bear Republic Brewing Company

#68 Marin Brewing Company

#85 Shmaltz Brewing Company

The Best Breweries to Visit 2011

#12 Anchor Brewing Company

#34 Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

The Best Beer Bars 2011

#17 The Trappist, Oakland, CA.

The Best Brewpubs 2011

#5 Russian River Brewing

The Best Beer Retailers 2011

#31 City Beer Store, San Francisco.

#36 Perry’s Liquors, Livermore.

#45 Healthy Spirits, San Francisco.

The Best Restaurants for Beer 2011

#17 La Trappe Café & Trappist Lounge, San Francisco.

So what does everyone think? You can see the full results on the RateBeer website.

Congratulations to all the winners. You truly help make the Bay Area one of the best craft beer drinking regions in the country.