2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Label maker

Published: February 21, 2014, 12:31 am, by Nicole Montanez
Bristol Brewing Company held its annual Smokebrush Porter release party Wednesday. This year’s label features art by local beer enthusiast Katie Schwing.

We caught up with Katie and here is what she had to say:

Q. How did you end up designing a label for Bristol?

A. About three years ago, Bristol Brewing Co. put out a call for entries for a label design for the Smokebrush Porter. A group of coworkers and I thought it would be fun to try our hands at beer label design. A few of us entered, then attended the Smokebrush Porter release party in 2011, where I had my first taste of the beer. I ended up winning second runner-up in that contest, taking home a box of Bristol beer and feeling pretty pleased with myself.

A few weeks ago, I got a call from Don Goede with the Smokebrush Foundation, who told me that Bristol wanted to use an Uncle Wilber label for this year’s porter. They had found the labels from the earlier contest, and Amanda Bristol ended up liking mine the best. It was so strange and surreal. I didn’t tell many friends about it until I actually saw my label on an ad in the Independent and it sank in that this was actually happening.

Q. What was your inspiration?
A. When one does any research on the Smokebrush Foundation, Uncle Wilber is one of the first things that comes up. It’s an obvious choice, but it’s also a cornerstone of our city’s downtown in the summer. I love seeing kids enjoying the water, and I love that the Smokebrush Foundation cares enough to make maintaining and running the fountain a priority. The brush strokes and paint splotches for water droplets in the image are an homage to Smokebrush’s patronage of the arts in the community.
Q. Do you like the beer? Be honest.
A. I really like the beer! But I’m kind of glad that they really only celebrate it once a year — it makes it more special. 
Q. Which came first? The beer or the label? And is that typically the way it happens?
A. The beer! I believe this is the seventh year for Smokebrush Porter. Or were you being more esoteric? I like to think that creating, then drinking, a tasty beer would inspire anyone to get creative and take ownership of it through a label. That’s my experience as a novice homebrewer, anyway.
Q. Will you sign a bottle for me?
A. I’ve been carrying a Sharpie around in my purse for this purpose. You don’t think Coaltrain would mind if I preemptively signed a few on their shelves, do you? (Kidding, Coaltrain employees. Kidding. Please don’t ban me from your store!)