All About Beer Magazine

CREATING MASTERPIECES: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ART AND BEER

Don Tse

Ever since the McMenamins chain of brewpubs opened its first location, Barley Mill Pub in Portland, OR, in 1983, brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin have embraced art. For a time, the McMenamins even referred to their brewers, themselves, as artists.

Not counting these brewer artists, McMenamins currently employs three full-time artists and several others on a contract basis. Walk into any of over 60 McMenamins locations sprinkled throughout Oregon and Washington and you will see fantastic art painted all over the walls in a uniform style, which staff artist Lyle Hehn refers to as “historical surrealism.” “I look at old advertising art for inspiration, so there’s an old-fashioned look to everything,” Hehn says. He has been working for McMenamins for 20 years and designs everything from the paintings that cover the walls to beer labels, signage, T-shirts and graphics. “I’m here to promote the company,” he says of his longtime role at one of America’s most successful brewing companies, “but I try to have fun doing it.” The historical aspect of his work is a reflection of the image of McMenamins, which has chosen many historic buildings to house its operations.

There is an intersection where art—the physical manifestation of creative minds—and beer—the liquid creation of skilled artisans—meet in the mind as the senses of sight, smell, taste and touch come together. Beer and visual art are very much connected, and some in the industry as well as consumers are passionate about both and find ways to join them.

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