GhostRider White IPA by Wasatch Brewery

Label Approval by | Dec 2013 | Issue #83

Adam Curfew isn’t the first brewer to have dreams about beer. He just took it a step further when he called up his longtime friend and Wasatch label artist Stephen Kesler to re-create one of those dreams.

“I woke up in the middle of the night with an inspiration for this new beer—the name and label concept came like a flash,” says Curfew, head cellarman for the Utah Brewers Cooperative (comprised of Wasatch and Squatters). “I sat up in bed, and it all sort of appeared to me.”

Kesler took to the drawing board to render what Curfew had envisioned: “an apparition, with hints of ribs showing and a few horse skull bits, too.”

“The idea was to show it really rough, like a loose painting, or how it would show distorted by the heat shimmer,” Kesler explains. He turned to Photoshop for the first time since he started designing Wasatch labels four years ago, because “the style wasn’t anything I could pull off using Illustrator.” Combining over 15 images and more than 40 layers, Kesler struck the balance between an ephemeral mirage and the eerie mood of “a lone gunslinger.”

The dead rider, atop a dead horse, in the heat of the desert—not unlike western Utah—carries a double-barrel shotgun. “A man on a mission, one that was not ended by his own death,” Kesler says.

Curfew adds, “It has kind of a lonesome feel, almost like a Clint Eastwood movie,” which is fitting, since the Wasatch team knew they wanted to make an American IPA.

GhostRider is the second collaboration for Curfew and Kesler, who’ve been friends since high school; their first was for The Devastator Double Bock label, which features a ram leaving a trail of devastation in his wake. “[Kesler] has a real ability to make the beer and the label match,” Curfew says.

“Beer label design is a dream gig for a designer, or at least for me,” says Kesler. “You can really get creative with beer labels. They balance on fine art more so than corporate design.”

Fine art on one hand; on the other, Curfew jokes, “I can’t wait to be crushing GhostRider cans while hitting the slopes this winter.”