Contrary to what Broken Lizard’s 2006 blockbuster Beerfest may have insinuated, gone are the days when the fashions associated with a pint of the brew were Bavarian-inspired peasant wear. In 2015, beer gear has an all-new identity — and it has little to do with binge drinking and hot German waitresses in dirndls. At least in the Pacific Northwest.
Draughts of craft speak to its consumers on a level beyond Friday night frat parties. Craft beer is a lifestyle, and local brewers such as Postmark Brewing, Steel & Oak, and 33 Acres Brewing are pioneering the movement through suds-inspired duds.
“When I started at Postmark, one of the things I really wanted to do was carry through the aesthetic of who we are and what we like to do and take that through all the way to the apparel collection,” says Steve Thorp, founder and CEO of Postmark Brewing.
The Vancouver-based brewery sells retail out of its Dunlevy Avenue tasting room, which includes printed baseball caps, hoodies, toques and tanks bearing the logo. Thorp also established the brand’s slogan “It’s All Happening,” which appears on several clothing items by Postmark, and even its enamel camping mug.
“For us, it was definitely beer number one, being in the craft beer industry,” Thorp explains. “Number two for us was lifestyle. The way that we market and communicate our brand is very much about who we are as the founders; we are West Coast lifestyle guys, and we wanted to communicate that through the brand.”
Jorden Foss, co-owner and director of Steel & Oak in new Westminster, hopes to see his community connected through his beer company’s clothing and merchandise. Some of its items have been so popular , he can’t restock them fast enough.
“We wanted to create a culture, at least locally, where you could walk through New West and… start to see a lot of [our clothes] around,” says Foss, Steel and Oak’s co-owner and director. “Our hope was that we would have merch that was nice enough that most people would want to buy it no matter who they were.”
The brand relies on a clean, minimalist typeface printed over T-shirts, tanks and hoodies, and deconstructed logos sewn on snapback baseball caps and toques. Steel & Oak also boasts a signature stainless steel tumbler, often featured on the brewer’s Instagram account while exploring Pacific Northwest locals.
“Craft beer is more about community and supporting where you’re locally from,” Foss reasons.
“Regional businesses are important again. We’re people from New West, they wear S&O because they want to say, ‘I’m from where these guys are from, and we’re proud of that.’ People dig wearing something that’s small and local.”
While at first glance you may not recognize threads bearing the Parallel 49, 33 Acres, or perhaps a Phillips logo milling about Metro Vancouver, the brands are way more popular than ever. That’s something Broken Lizard may just have to amend in its next beer flick.
Kristi Alexandra is editor-in-chief of Loose Lips, Vancouver’s spanking new femme-focused, salacious, journalistic mouthpiece.