Lovely Saint Winefride by Pretty Things

Label Approval by | Apr 2012 | Issue #63

Dann and Martha Paquette have a thing for saints. “We wrote a bunch of pieces for the Oxford Companion to Beer and chose to be paid in Oxford books, including the Oxford Dictionary of Saints,” says Dann. “We’re big on saints.”

Their new beer, Lovely Saint Winefride, joins Saint Botolph’s Town in Massachusetts-based Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project’s oeuvre of ecclesiastical-inspired beers.

The label art dips us into the part-fictional, part-real life world the Paquettes are constructing: Winefride is in her home of Wales, the town of St. Botolph (namesake of “Boston”) is set off to the right, “and the church is pretty much the church near Martha’s house where we got married,” Dann says. “We’re creating a bit of geography.”

But it was Winefride’s story—her “real ambition and character,” as Martha puts it—that infused the beer-brewing process.

“She lived in early Anglo-Saxon Wales and was probably a Celt, had her head chopped off by Caradoc”—a suitor enraged by Winefride’s promise to devote herself to God—“sewn back on by her uncle, the abbot, was restored to life, and went on to live a long and fruitful life as the abbess at Gwytherin Abbey,” Martha explains. “What’s not to love?”

The sheep are Swaledale, in case you were wondering, and the springs are “spots where she is said to have caused healing waters to appear,” Martha says. As the beer was lagered from late November until early February, its release ushers in the new season, adds Martha.

Dann and Martha are the brewers and label designers behind all of Pretty Things’ beers. “It’s much easier to do it ourselves than to try to immerse someone else’s brain in our world and get them to reflect it,” Martha says. “We’ll be ordering malt and drawing headless ladies simultaneously—that’s a very normal night at our dinner table.”

Here, Martha drew Win, and Dann drew “virtually everything else.” They work from pencil to pen, to watercolors. “Then we [add] each item in separately and work on the composition,” Dann says. The label for Jack D’Or, their American Saison, ended up with 280 layers in Photoshop. Winefride has around 30.

For two creative people inspired by history, folklore and European landscapes, what could follow a decapitated heroine enjoying a chalice brimming with brown lager?

“We also like Saint Drogo, the patron saint of ugly people,” says Dann. “Maybe one day. Nobody steal it.” 

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