Following a whirlwind three months of inspiration and hard work, Greenport Harbor Brewing launches their new line of bottled beers on Monday, April 20. The release includes four varieties of beer—Harbor Ale, Black Duck Porter, Other Side IPA and their seasonal release, Summer Ale—each featuring a unique label with artwork by East End artist Scott Bluedorn. And they’re like nothing beer fans have seen before.
Greenport Harbor sold beer in kegs and growlers for years before finally bringing their bottling dreams to fruition in January, but it wasn’t until the brewery recruited Bluedorn that the bottles were truly complete and ready for market.
It all happened quickly after co-owner Ann Vandenburgh saw Bluedorn’s “House of the Whale” illustration, featuring a cedar shingle covered whale floating above the sea with a house on its back, and was eventually inspired to see if it would work as a label. She conferred with fellow co-owner John Liegey, an experienced ad man and art director, who responded immediately to Bluedorn’s unique artistic flavor.
For his part, Liegey said Bluedorn’s art solved what had been a long and arduous struggle to design the right label. “I’ve been working on these labels since before I was born,” he joked, noting that, before landing on Bluedorn’s art, he was ready to present eight different sample labels to his co-owners—Ann and Rich Vandenburgh, and his wife Betsy Liegey—but none of them felt quite right. Everything clicked when he saw “House of the Whale,” though, and Liegey had the label designed and ready within about 15 minutes. “It was just such a cool image of that floating whale,” the art director said, pointing out that there’s no shortage of bad maritime art in the world, but Bluedorn’s was special. “It was so startling—it felt very Greenport to us.”
Liegey wasn’t alone in his passion for the art. Everyone agreed unanimously, Bluedorn’s work was the right direction for the project.
“John gave me a call,” Bluedorn said, recalling the moment he was presented with the exciting opportunity. “He really liked the look of that original drawing, so we decided to base the others on that.” The result is nothing short of stunning. With input and guidance from Liegey, in just two or three short months, Bluedorn created—in addition to the first whale drawing for the Harbor Ale—a surreal striped bass submarine, flipping sky and sea on its head, for the Other Side IPA; a honeybee/seaplane hybrid pulling a banner for their honey-infused Summer Ale; and a duck/boat hybrid for the Black Duck Porter.
The rest of the bottle design came easily, Liegey said, explaining that good art needs only simple design and text that won’t take away from it. Each beer has its own bold color with large, white lettering, and future releases will follow that pattern, but with new art and colors, such as orange for their fall seasonal bottle, Leaf Pile. “There’s something about these labels,” Liegey mused, “They’re so, kind of, dignified.”
Following Monday’s bottle release in bars, restaurants and markets, Greenport Harbor Brewing will celebrate Scott Bluedorn’s brilliant artwork with a special gallery exhibition, opening Saturday, May 16 from 6–8 p.m. in their Greenport brewhouse. The show will include prints of Bluedorn’s original label art as well as design sketches and other works unrelated to the labels.