I’m sure you’re already well aware of what make up the core ingredients within a beer: water, malt, yeast and hops. As part of Fundamentals the aim is to explore those and other, perhaps less thought of ingredients, such as the oak of a barrel, the addition of fruit juice or zest, or even harnessing wild bacteria for natural fermentation. In beer, for me at least, a fundamental can be any one of those things and more.
However, I’m curious. Can the design that sits on a bottle or can itself be considered as one of the fundamentals of beer? Of course it can. In fact I would argue that the way a beer presents itself on the shelf is as crucial as the malt bill or hop additions.
Sweden’s Omnipollo has made a point of striving for uniqueness in the beer aisle on every bottle it produces. It should come as no surprise that Karl Grandin, Omnipollo’s co-founder, is an illustrator and graphic designer who also helped to set up the Cheap Monday fashion brand. In fact when the Omnipollo and Cheap Monday brands are placed side by side, the similarities between the two are immediately obvious.
Although the brewery is officially based in Stockholm, Omnipollo is a nomadic brewery, much like Denmark’s Mikkeller, and brews in various locations, including at the UK’s Buxton Brewery.
Omnipollo has garnered a reputation for producing some pretty outrageous beers. Its Yellow Belly peanut butter stout – a collaboration with the aforementioned Buxton – is a great example of this. Anagram is another collaboration, this time with Dugges Brewery, fellow Swedes based near the city of Gothenburg.
Anagram is an imperial stout that weighs in at a hefty 12% ABV and tastes exactly as it says on the bottle: of rich, sweet and sticky blueberry cheesecake. It’s heavy going but every sip is laced with fun and the Omnipollo team are masters of making beers that make your palate laugh with joy.
I’ll be honest here, the reason I won’t tell you what makes it taste of blueberry cheesecake is that you probably don’t want to know. Just take my advice and maybe stick to salads or do some light exercise before you drink one.
As bonkers as the taste of this beer is though, it’s Grandin’s designs that lure you in. The label on this bottle tells you nothing of the beers style, it’s just a clever mesh of both Omnipollo’s and Dugges branding, artfully screen-printed in “millennial pink”. The design is so striking that it ends up piquing that curiosity reflex in your brain before you’ve even turned the bottle around to find out what the beer tastes like.
The fundamentals of beer are anything that makes up the sum of a beer’s parts. Water, barley, wheat, oats, sugars, yeast, bacteria and even adjuncts such as fruit or maize are all fundamental parts of what make up our favourite beers. You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog Total Ales, Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up a bottle of Omnipollo/Dugges Anagram in store or online now.