William Sinnen, from Chaska, Minn., prefers jalapeños in Mexican food, not in beer, although you would never guess judging from his label. He's not even a homebrewer. But his brother, Gary Sinnen, brews his own and prodded Sinnen into creating a label to match his Smoking Jalapeño. The label depicts a sombrero-clad pepper smoking a cigar. Sinnen hand drew and airbrushed his label, which placed first in the amateur category. He is a printer and creates labels on the side for friends.
Some of his creations have included labels for homemade maple syrup and one for One-Eyed Nick, a homebrew named after his brother's son. No, Sinnen's nephew does not have one eye. The label just shows a boy with one eye closed.
Angry Hank Doppelbock
When Brian Wetcher was seeking a way to create an aggressive, high-alcohol doppelbock, his thoughts automatically turned to entertainer Henry Rollins, formerly with the music group Black Flag and known for spewing out the spoken word.
Browsing the internet one day Wetcher stumbled upon Rolling Stone's web page. He found an image of Rollins and downloaded it. The image came in handy at work. Wetcher frequently works with SyQuest disks at a label company. He has a hard time getting people to return his disks, so he decided to add something to his reminder: "Keep Hank happy." The image of angry Hank naturally matched the profile for his doublebock, Wetcher says. The label earns top professional honors.
The York, Pa., resident has been homebrewing for two years and is on his 11th "angry batch." He creates designs for Mr. Steve's Homebrew Supplies in Manchester, Pa., and in exchange the shop sponsors his bike racing team.
Jerry Lutticken's Cock & Bull Ale gets its name from an expression his fiancee uses to tell him he's "full of it." She picked up the saying while living in London. "Sometimes she told me I was telling her a cock-and-bull story, which meant I was full of BS," he says.
While riding a bus to his Petaluma, Calif., home from his job as a civil engineer he was struck with the idea of a label based on the expression. He went to the library, looked at sketches, and roughly drew a cock and bull. He transferred the image to heavy-grade paper. His fiancee, Soosila Judd, added the finishing touches with watercolors and an Old World-style border.
Judd's other contributions include bottling and tasting Lutticken's creations. The label wins second place amateur entry.
The Good Old Days
The name DeJa Brew, second place winner in the professional category, comes from combining the names David and Jenifer, says David Hughs. "Let memory serve you," the tag line, was Jenifer's idea.
The image depicts the New York City couple many years from now lounging in beach chairs as they reminisce about the good ol' days of homebrewing. David requested help from a friend and colleague, Gary Stanton, who coordinates the web site for a financial company. "He does mostly animations for the web and also paints on the side. I asked him to come up with a little sketch," says Hughs. "Well, he comes in Monday morning with a portfolio, pulls out this 18-by-24-inch poster that he spent 25 hours making. I had told him nothing other than the name (of the beer). The rest was his. He really has an eye for detail. You should see the original -- all these fine little brush strokes. I said, 'You've got to be kidding.' We framed it and put one of the labels under it."
The Hughses were married on Valentine's Day and celebrated with homebrew. They are working on a hard cider, inspired by an article that appeared in BYO.
When Poultry is Pensive
Ex-zookeeper John O'Fiel didn't have to look far for inspiration when he came up with Chicken Sit Ale. He now works as a graphic artist in the exhibits department for the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, which is housed in a zoo.
His label, which won third place in the professional category, was hand-drawn. "It's just a play on words. I didn't want to make a hard, mean chicken," he says. "I wanted a soft, pensive chicken." Chicken Sit Ale is an IPA made from extract.