Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

May 14, 2014 at 2:41pm

Harmon Brewing teams up with Tacoma Art Museum on drINK THIS IPA

The Tacoma Art Museum - specifically Pei Pei Sung - designed the label for Harmon's drINK THIS IPA. Photo courtesy of the Tacoma Art Museum

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Letterpress and craft beer. These two artistries are at the forefront of the South Sound's creative scene. Over the last decade, the area has become a magnet for creative types of every stripe - especially letterpress artists and craft brewers. Chandler O'Leary, Jessica Spring, Chris Sharp, Beautiful Angle's Tom Llewellyn and Lance Kagey, J Hukee and othershave been fighting against the Kindle tide with small presses and handmade fonts, displaying their work in dentists' offices, bars, street corners and large shows, such as Wayzgoose. The other set of bib-wearing craftsmen put just as much time, energy, thought and humor into designs that help brand their beer and distinguish their products. Beginning in the '90s, a firehouse, an electrical station, a Ram and a Fish inspired the new talent in 7 Seas Brewing, Wingman Brewers, Narrows Brewing, Tacoma Brewing Co. and others, landing them with their own taprooms, spots a notable festivals and space in grocery stores.

Then, there's Harmon Brewing Co. Tacoma's first craft microbrewery cares as much about art and image as it does producing award-winning beers. Co-owners Pat Nagle and Carole Ford will tell you they're restaurateurs first, but crafting quality beer and presenting it in creative ways is always on their minds. They've paired their beers and one-off brews with the bicycling community, snow and sun celebrations, music festivals, airplane rides, holidays, bridge re-opening celebrations, city celebrations, and one of their favorite partnerships, art exhibits at the Tacoma Art Museum. Harmon has created seasonal beers in conjunction with huge exhibits at TAM dating back to 1998, including the Hop Art Ale, a season IPA in celebration of "Andy Warhol's Flowers For Tacoma."

"We really enjoy the collaboration, the community and city government involvement in creating the Art Museum beers. We met with the Tacoma Art Museum folks, examined the Warhol exhibit, knocked around ideas and walked away with flowers on the brain. We incorporated four flowers in the Hop Art Ale - lavender, rose hips, hibiscus and chamomile. The Art Museum designed the label and coasters. They sold the beer in their store. We put it on draft in our restaurants, with coasters everywhere. Everyone's talking about the show, the museum and Tacoma craft beer - I love that," says Nagle, with enthusiasm.

Harmon Brewing Co. will once again team up with the Tacoma Art Museum, this time crafting beer around a Northwest print art show opening June 7.

Ah, all my babbling comes to a point.

"Ink This! Contemporary Print Arts in the Northwest" will shine a light on raised metal letters inked and pressed into heavy paper by notable Northwest artists over the years. The exhibit will hang through Nov. 9, 2014. Naturally, over the course of the exhibit, TAM will host many lectures, workshops and events centered on contemporary print arts in the Northwest.

What pairs well with lectures, workshops and events?

Beer.

The Tacoma Art Museum asked Harmon to brew a beer for "Ink This!".

Harmon came back with ... drINK THIS!  

"drINK THIS WHITE IPA is a medium-bodied IPA brewed with three different malted barleys that make up just over 60 percent of the grain bill," says Nagle. "White wheat makes up the other almost 40 percent, with five different hop varieties - Simcoe, Centennial, Cascade, Amarillo and Citra - used in the kettle."

Nagle says it was then dry hopped with a sixth variety of hop, Sorachi Ace, which was chosen for its tropical fruit and lemon aroma flavors.

"Bold flavors of orange, lemon and melon give away to a crisp, clean and smooth finish," he adds.

drINK THIS dials in with a 7.6 percent ABV and 65 IBUs.

The beer will make the same rounds as its other arty predecessors. It will be sold in TAM's store and be available at special Museum events. The Harmon will have it on tap at its four restaurants: Harmon Brewery & Eatery, Harmon Tap Room and The Hub in Tacoma and Gig Harbor.

While the exhibit doesn't open until June 7, drINK THIS will sneak into a couple earlier events. It's scheduled to be a part of the Walk Tacoma UWT/Brewery Walk after party at the Harmon Brewery & Eatery Wednesday, May 21. Click here for details.  

Others will have the opportunity of snatching drINK THIS even earlier. The national American Alliance of Museums organization will hold its Annual Meeting & Museum Expo in Seattle May 18-20, with a couple busloads of museum directors, curators and educators traveling south to visit the Tacoma museums. During an evening gathering at the Tacoma Art Museum May 19, the group will score a taste of Tacoma - drINK THIS.

"We're going to have drINK THIS coasters in all our locations, with the Art Museum on one side and the other side blank. We're going to come up with fun stamps so you can personalize your coasters and take them with you," says Nagle. "Hopefully, it will entice people to visit the exhibit."

Crafty.

INK THIS! CONTEMPORARY PRINT ARTS IN THE NORTHWEST, June 7-Nov. 9, 2014, Tacoma Art Museum, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Sundays, 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, $8-$10, 253.272.4258

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