Beer Label Breakdown is a four-part series spotlighting Scott Bluedorn, an East Hampton-based artist commissioned by Greenport Harbor Brewing Company to create the label artwork for the brewery's recently launched bottles of Harbor Ale, Black Duck Porter, Otherside IPA, and Summer Ale.
Before the opening of "Message On A Bottle," an exhibition of Bluedorn's work at different stages of the project, we asked him to discuss the four labels. We'll release one part on each of the next four Fridays, with the final part posted on the day before "Message On A Bottle" opens at Greenport Harbor's Greenport location on May 16.
Part 4: Summer Ale
Official Beer Description: A refreshingly delicious, moderately hopped golden ale brewed with a touch of orange blossom honey for a light, slightly sweet and floral finish. Our Summer Ale is waiting to take it’s place somewhere between softball, rooftop parties, SPF whatever, and sand in the bed. (5.3% ABV) -seasonal availability.
Scott Bluedorn: I enjoy light beers in the summer and Greenport Harbor's Summer Ale is one of my standbys for the season. Summer is also my favorite season of the year, so I wanted to do something I could somehow relate to with this label. I had immediately thought of surfing, as that's my favorite hobby, but I decided to stay away from exploring that because it didn’t reflect Greenport's heritage.
John [Liegey, co-owner of Greenport Harbor] called for some "summertime fun" imagery, but nothing cliche and seen before on other summer-themed beer labels. His first ideas were beachballs, the sun, beachballs as the sun, and lounging seals. Working from that, together we devised some cool concepts: hot-air balloons, mermaids on seahorses, seals lounging at the bottom of the sea. We eventually arrived at the “Beeplane” after underlining the honey ingredient in the beer, and the bee was the obvious symbol for that. Going with the animal-hybrid theme overall, I thought a bee crossed with a seaplane would be great to imagine.
Once we reached that, we tackled the actual look of the "Beeplane" and like the Otherside IPA, we went through a lot of ideas to arrive at something we felt was right. At first it was too insecty for John, so I toned down the more grotesque details of honeybee anatomy and gave it a more streamlined, maybe aerodynamic look. Then the idea of the banner came from all of the advertising planes that fly over the beaches in the summer. We even tried a few variations of copy for the tagline, including “Buzz Responsibly” and “Bee Good." But I was told the feds don’t have a great sense of humor, so wording had to be very specific in a tagline.
We ultimately used "Beehave" for the tagline because I wanted to draw attention here once again to a sadly troubled species in danger. Honeybee populations have dwindled dramatically and mysteriously in the last decade, most likely due to insecticides and loss of habitat. Like the other creatures in this beer-illustration series, I hope the honeybee gets the recognition of its plight it deserves, as it's one of the most important keystone species in the whole animal kingdom and our survival depends on them. I hope the drinker might be aware as well!