Coppertail Brewing’s Kiko Santiago IPA

Label Approval by | Sep 2017 | Issue #128

Coppertail’s labels don’t exactly scream Sunshine State. “Here in Florida, we have rows and rows of brightly colored craft beer cans,” says founder and president Kent Bailey, “and then there’s us in this darker bottle.”

Bailey has moved around the country a lot, which might explain why he was drawn in by the un-Tampa-like work of Portland, Ore.-based artist Evan B. Harris. “There’s kind of an illogical or irrational, dreamlike quality to Evan’s art,” says Bailey.

For Kiko Santiago, part of Coppertail’s new Alpha Hunt IPA series, Harris applied that dreamlike aesthetic to a fisherman in distress. “The fisherman was so confident that he was going to catch Coppertail, and Coppertail foiled its plans,” says Gary Kost, the brewery’s marketing director, referencing the eponymous, imaginary sea monster conjured by Bailey’s 4-year-old daughter.

In the image, the fisherman battles against lightning bolt-wielding clouds and fierce waves. “I like the composition a lot, how the ship’s twisted and kind of going down,” says Harris, who has also illustrated for BA. “When I was making it, I could really feel and see everything moving around in my head. It’s too bad it couldn’t be animated.”

For Bailey and Kost, it’s Harris’ “lighthearted flourishes,” like the fish diving into the fisherman’s boot or the lobster hanging on for dear life, that elevate their labels.

While conceptualizing Coppertail, Bailey was already planning on a nautical theme when he discovered Harris’ maritime artwork online. “My granddad was a sailor,” says Harris, “and ever since I was a kid, he had a glass case full of oddities that he’d collected from all over the world. It was really magical to see all the places he’d gone.”

Between a 4-year-old girl’s imagination and Harris’ creativity, Coppertail has created its own nautical mythology—but the brewery never reveals the labels’ backstories. “We like to know there’s a universe there,” says Bailey, “but we like the consumers to have the fun of deciding what they think it means.”