Despite my continuing efforts, there are still some people who do not consider beer as their primary motivator in life. I know, it sounds miserable to me too. Regardless, that is part of the reality that our beloved suds slingers must contend with. Finding ways to coax fresh patrons into your premises is part of the game.
Normally we celebrate the creativity of the craft brewing industry, but sadly the more adventurous promotions for it are often doomed to failure. Both Division 23 Brewing’s “Speed Dating For HVAC Specialists” and Societe Brewing Company’s underground hamster-fighting arena ultimately flopped. In fact, they performed so poorly that, apart from this article, all traces of them occurring have been completely stricken from the historical record. Sad.
There are the occasional success stories. There’s no denying that San Diego beer has wildly reinvigorated the local yoga and trivia industries. But what else is out there for inflexible people who insist on only acquiring practical knowledge?
The newest promotional frontier embraces that association with creativity by pairing the beers with the opportunity to become artists themselves. This can take many, many forms, so it’s probably prudent to define what that means. What, indeed, IS art? Is it an applied mastery of expressive form? Or, as Duchamp’s “Fountain” would argue, is art entirely decoupled from the labor and perceived merit of the work? Is it just paintings and stuff? Luckily for us, the answer is (C) Paintings and stuff. Quit making everything so hard, Artists.
That simplicity of purpose is best exemplified in the weekly Iron Pig Alehouse “Adult Coloring With Beer” event. This title seems a bit risque, but rest assured there’s nothing particularly “Adult” about the coloring other than it being intended for those of drinking age. Of course, if you’re compelled to doodle something filthy, I’m not here to stifle your creativity.
I arrived at the event with designs on using some of the house-provided crayons. This was evidently something of a rookie maneuver. Many of my peers were kitted out with attache cases bursting with colored pencils sharpened to a surgical edge, probably harboring no less than eight shades of burnt umber. Adults take the celebration of childlike diversions very seriously.
After assembling enough crayons for a somewhat moth-eaten rainbow, I ordered a Fall Brewing Company Weekend Pirate #12 IPA and set down to work. At first I casually shaded sections of the page interspersed with sips of beer or conversing with my party. However, as my colors began to flesh out the image, I found myself increasingly incapable of doing all three. My vision was manifesting and I was struck with the urge to see it to completion.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m adult coloring convert, but the allure is no longer lost on me. It put me in a headspace that was both compelled to finish a task while simultaneously sensing no urgency to do so. It was very relaxing in a peculiar way. If you’re ever eager to join your chums at a bar and be entirely too distracted to speak to them, I highly recommend it.
The Beer Mug Painting Class at Kilowatt Brewing Company (Ocean Beach) was a slightly different animal. It’s more of a workshop where the admission price includes all raw materials, some basic instruction, and a table full of more capable artists whose paintings will definitely shame yours. It also comes with a pint, which takes a bit of the sting out of that last bit.
Now seated with my rotund glass canvas, it was time to figure out what to paint. Normally the open bounds of that question would paralyze a non-artist like myself, but I developed a procedure to help decide. Firstly, I considered the whole of material existence along with the entirety of potential abstract thought. Next, I narrowed all of that down by only including what someone with zero dexterity and toddler-esque focus could realistically accomplish in an hour. A painting of a pint glass it was.
I spent the next 10 minutes quietly drumming up the courage to lay the first stripe of paint down. The instructor, likely sensing my dismay, inquired if I needed any assistance. By all accounts the answer was a resounding “yes”, but I wasn’t sure how she could help. It’s not as if the tools were somehow alien to me. The brush goes in the paint, then on the glass. Even if I chose the wrong end of the brush it would still technically work (and might even have me hailed as a visionary by my peers). My obstacle was just plain old confidence. This meant the only reasonable question to ask was “How can I make this not terrible?” It turns out there’s no great answer for that.
Despite my profound inability to wield a brush, I’m not entirely untrained in the world of art. In the course of obtaining my unused college degree, I also acquired a totally unnecessary year of visual arts coursework that left me with one singular lesson: If you can’t awe them with talent, dazzle them with bullshit.
One dash of French surrealism later, I had elevated my wonky beer emoji into a bonafide masterpiece:
As incompetent as I knew myself to be with a brush, I was actually more vexed initially by the proposition of doing the Succulent Jewelry Workshop hosted by North Park Beer Co. and Stemtations San Diego. I didn’t have anything against drought-resistant ornamentation per se, but it was akin to an invitation to make Squid Socks – I could picture it, but had no idea it was a thing.
Making succulent jewelry is like a microcosm of floral arranging, with an emphasis on “micro”. It involves the assembly of miniscule plant cuttings on to a pendant 1.5” in diameter. When done with diligence and care, it can produce a charming accessory for any chlorophyll-deficient ensemble:
Clearly, this one isn’t mine.
While the succulent jewelry looks awfully ornate, they weren’t nearly as difficult to assemble as I assumed they would be. Beneath that lush, yet delicate presentation lies an angry, frothy sea of floral adhesive cementing each leaflet in place.
With a little planning (and a lot of prodding), everything seemed to find a place. I’m sure that, were it not for my inner child urging me to do something profoundly stupid, I could have made far better use of the materials than I did:
All in all, I have to say that the marriage of beer and art was definitely to my liking. It can be something of an impediment to casual conversation given the focus directed to your budding masterpiece, but it has plenty of other benefits. There is an undeniable zen-like bliss to willfully ignoring the woes of the world to direct all of your attention to a coloring book. Building my infernal succulent was not only a good bit of fun, it reminded me of our dominion over Mother Nature, which always makes me feel important. Most importantly, the painting reminded me that I’m an undeniably shitty painter, which should put any delusions suggesting otherwise to bed when my mid-life crisis rolls around.
INTERACTIVE BEER & ART EVENTS
- Every Wednesday night through September
- Sunday, May 13
- Sunday, May 13 (and every second Sunday of the month)
- Thursday, May 17
- Monday, May 21
- Monday, June 4
- Monday, June 18
- Sunday, June 10
- Monday, June 11
- Friday, May 18
- Friday, May 25
- Wednesday, May 30
- Friday, June 1
- Friday, June 8
- Friday, June 15
- Friday, June 22
- Wednesday, June 27
- Sunday, July 22