There’s an art to beer. That’s what any real beer lover will tell you. It’s also pretty clear on the walls at Relic Brewing, tucked back in an industrial area on Whiting Street in Plainville.
The tasting room proudly displays the labels of most of the past, present and rotating brews they have created. When Relic opened in February 2012, Owner and Head Brewer Mark Sigman was coming out of a career in advertising and knew he wanted his beers to embody that artistic flair.
“The Antiquity label was our first design,” Mark said, pointing to it on the wall. “We’ve had over a dozen artists contribute designs and ultimately decided to do more bottling because of the rave reactions we were getting to the bottles.”
Relic typically features five to six varieties a week in their tasting room and at any given time, about the same amount are out with the distributor, Craft Beer Guild of Connecticut. Even with the small handful of rotating beers, artists still approach Mark regularly asking to create label designs. Relic has been recognized for their beer labels in large competitions like CNBC’s Battle of Beer Labels, where they made it to the semifinals pitted against much larger breweries. Some labels were also featured in the art book Cool Beer Labels: The Best Art & Design from Breweries Around the World, published in 2014.
The labels pasted on the wall at Relic all have unique stories and origins. Many are from one-time or anniversary-only brews.
One that Mark really loves is The Falconess, a label designed by a University of Hartford Art School student. Another favorite is a series featuring historical female figures, all hand-painted.
While traveling in the jungles of Nicaragua, Mark was able to taste wild hops and envisioned the wildlife around him, and created the label for Feral King, with a tiger amongst the wild hops and jungle. The label for Morgue Party was inspired by a particularly joyous and macabre scene in the TV show American Horror Story: Coven.
A more graphic-design oriented label, rather than illustration-based, is Ryddle. “It was really pure graphic design inspired and more shelf-ready,” Mark explained. Ryddle’s label became the inspiration for a branded, template look that now carries over to other Relic packaged beer packs.
The way Mark creates his beers brings the art he loves so much full circle. “I practice ad-hoc brewing. No recipes. I write them down but it’s really an art in itself. I like to understand and read about all the ingredients, their tastes…. All the different malts and hops.”
And really, there isn’t much better way to sum it up. Relic and their art put the craft in craft beer.
About Sarah Johnson: Sarah Johnson is a freelance writer based in Plainville Connecticut. She regularly works for small businesses doing website writing, blogging and feature-style product writing. Sarah J Design and Writing