Collective Arts Brewing is all about bringing craft beer and art together. Founded in 2013 by Bob Russell and Matt Johnston, and located in Canada’s former manufacturing town of Hamilton, Ontario, the brand is known for releasing its beers with eye-catching can and bottle art. How seriously do they take creative collaboration? At press time more than 700 artists have worked with Collective Arts.
Here are nine other things you should know about Collective Arts.
One passion inspires the other.
From the outset, founders Russell and Johnston put their faith in the two-pronged mission statement that “creativity fosters creativity” and, in turn, “creativity yields delicious pints.” They maintain that being surrounded by so much art helps inspire creative brewing processes.
Chaos is welcome here.
Before branding as Collective Arts, the company was almost called Chaos to symbolize the ever-changing nature of the can and bottle artwork. Ultimately, the founders settled on Collective Arts to emphasize the strong collaborative ethos of the brewery, whether teaming up with artists, musicians, or other breweries.
It isn’t just eye candy, either.
The brewery took a bronze award at the 2016 World Beer Cup for its Stranger Than Fiction porter, a balanced brew with rich, roasty notes.
Good art, smart tech, and fair intellectual property practices are all on the can.
Every three months, Collective Arts puts out a global call for artists to submit work they think might be a good fit for a beer label. The last round attracted over 2,000 submissions, which were whittled down to 55 artists, whose work was judged and selected with the help of volunteer curators from various creative fields. Successful artists retain full copyright in their artwork, along with being paid a $250 fee.
Not an artist? If you pick up a can and want to learn more about the featured artwork, download the Blippar augmented reality app and scan the accompanying QR code.
Collective Arts hearts music, too.
In addition to its work with visual artists, Collective Arts supports independent musicians via beer. A group or soloist can submit a piece of art connected to an upcoming release, like a new album cover, for consideration for an upcoming bottle or can release. No album cover? No problem. Collective Arts also helps pair musicians with artists to collaborate on an image — and the brewery picks up the tab.
The inaugural Collective Arts musician was Canadian indie rocker Rich Aucoin. A series of beers also featured the folk-rock trio The Grapes Of Wrath’s “High Road” album cover.
One day, your beer will come with free music.
Collective Arts is preparing to launch an SMS system that will strengthen the relationship between its beers and featured musical artists. When a band is featured on a label, drinkers will be able to text a number that’s printed on the packaging and receive the group’s latest song and video for free.
IPAs are Collective Arts’ flagships.
Collective Arts’ line includes seasonal specials like Japanese rice lagers, a basil and cranberry gose, plus a line of ciders. But the brand’s two flagship brews are IPAs: Life In The Clouds is an unfiltered New England IPA with zippy melon and citrus notes, while Ransack The Universe is a tropical fruit-forward “hemispheric hop mashup” made with hops sourced from Washington State and Australia’s Victoria.
You’ll either love or hate the truffle stout.
Collective Arts’ Origin Of Darkness series features Kentucky-bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stouts crafted with breweries from around the world. The 2018 debut lineup included collaboration brews with Wild Beer (United Kingdom), Moon Dog (Australia), Brewski (Sweden), KEX (Iceland), Forbidden Roots (Chicago), and Donut Monster, a local Hamilton donut purveyor. Encouraged to use local ingredients, previous Origin Of Darkness collaborators have introduced white miso, radish honey, guajillo chillies, lemon balm, and Icelandic cacao nibs into their brews.
The most daring addition came from Moon Dog’s Tasmanian black truffles. The resulting earthy beer falls squarely in the love-it-or-hate-it category.
In 2019, an Italian brewery aims to incorporate cannoli into its Origin of Darkness beer.
Collective Arts wants to “bring beer, art, and music to life,” Johnston says.
In 2018, the brand launched in Pennsylvania with four cans designed by artists from the state, including a Ziggy Stardust-inspired illustration by Christina Hess. Meanwhile, a listening party in New York City paired the Stranger Than Fiction porter with its eponymous Bad Religion album. At the 2018 Art Basel in Miami, limited-edition Collective Arts releases accompanied murals and live music performances. The range included the Liquid Art Fest Tropical Milkshake IPA — its passion fruit and mango flavors were paired with “psychedelic surreal imagery” by muralist Loch Ness.
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