Mr. Hyde by Greenbush Brewing Co.

Label Approval by | Nov 2012 | Issue #70

A Bic pen and a menu was all Michael Mullowney needed to animate his vision of a frenetic, maddened Mr. Hyde. Besides, jokes Mullowney, “those menus are on some nice paper.”

At the time, Mullowney was bartending at Small Bar in Chicago, where chef Justin White and owner Phil McFarland were collaborating with Michigan’s Greenbush Brewing Co. on Mr. Hyde, a Cream Stout made with Sumatran coffee beans. In keeping with the collaborative spirit of the brew, Small Bar held an in-house competition for the label art for Mr. Hyde, which draws its name from what Greenbush’s head brewer Scott Sullivan calls the “bipolar” character of the beer. “It’s like drinking a black cup of coffee, but on the other hand, it’s also a Stout,” Sullivan explains. “And with the use of lactose in there, it’s like coffee with cream.”

Mullowney took the concept of the mad scientist with a split personality and added a few dimensions: “The beer is the transformative elixir that the meek Dr. Jekyll uses to slurp himself into debauched madness,” he says. “This is that moment of transformation.”

Sullivan, who has an art background himself, likens Mullowney’s drawing to Ralph Steadman’s Flying Dog labels: “sloppy but not sloppy at the same time—seems like it has an edge or undercurrent,” which, he adds, jibes with the post-punk aesthetic of Greenbush’s in-house artist, Ken Holewyczinski.

“Beer brewing is chemistry,” Mullowney says. “Dr. Jekyll just didn’t follow the procedure quite right. And I like to think this guy on the label represents the inner Mr. Hyde that we’ve all unleashed sometimes after having a few.”

Chemistry is also kind of Mullowney’s thing—he just started a Ph.D. program in pharmacognosy. “Ironically, I’m working with fermentation, but instead of producing booze as the final product, my research is aimed at the development of new drugs. Microbes are such badass, tasty, life-saving little dudes,” he says.

Mullowney might be pocketing the Bic for while, but, he says, “Maybe some day, your life will be saved by a new drug I’ve helped develop, and on the bottle’s label will be my drawing of a giant fire-breathing, unicycle-riding toad. It could happen.”