Talking Craft Beer with ‘Silicon Valley’

An interview with the prop master of hit HBO comedy.


In early 2017, we heard about a gentleman from Upstate New York who was beginning an ambitious project. With “Resurrect Beer,” designer PJ Engel is creating new branding and packaging for a defunct brewery from each state. The project is a fascinating lesson in history, design, and culture. Follow him at @pj_engel.

This week we explore Florida and the long closed Spearman Brewery from Pensacola. Spearman was open from 1935–64, so there are quite a few visual examples of what it once was. They were known for their Straight Eight, or Strate-Ate, beer “brewed with the water that Ponce de Leon spent his life seeking.”

I decided to represent the cans using continuous line art and, to bring the can design to life, I partnered with the great talent at Outshinery to animate things a bit. More of that to come.

Just Fine

Style: Pale ale
ABV: 5.7 percent
Description: Random Florida fact of the day: If you leave an elephant tied to a parking meter, the same fine applies as a vehicle. Not sure why this is a law. Maybe due to the large number of retired circus entertainers living in the sunshine state. Can’t take the caravan to get milk and eggs — too much work and hard to park. “Tiny” the elephant, on the other hand, fits well in a parking space and only asks for a bag of peanuts while you run into the Kwik-E-Mart.

Mullet Toss

Style: Pale lager
ABV: 4.7 percent
Description: Originally a reason to party, the act of throwing dead mullet fish over the state line into Alabama has been an annual event to raise money for youth organizations on both sides of the border. The bar @_florabama has been known as a spot where a millionaire can be sitting next to a biker. Sounds like a visit would be damn fun. The bar has a motto inspired by their guests: 1. Always be responsive and sensitive to the human dignity of others; 2. Grant equal respect to all who enter the Flora-Bama, expecting the same in return; 3. To ensure our guests enjoy the magic of the Flora-Bama, leave safe and happy and come to visit us again with new friends. Cheers to that.

Three, Two, One

Style: Tripel
ABV: 8.7 percent
Description: The area code 321 was assigned purposely to Brevard County in Florida. Instead of Chicago getting the number, a petition was won by the residents of the county to take the number to commemorate the state’s space program. I still have moments thinking of space and astronauts, where I stop and wonder about what we have accomplished as the human race. Where we are going is pretty amazing too; Elon Musk is talking about inhabiting Mars. This cosmic moment is brought to you by a tripel ale. I blame the high ABV.

To the Baars

Style: Extra pale ale
ABV: 4.2 percent
Description: New York has the Lincoln Tunnel, London has the Chunnel, Ukraine has the Tunnel of Love, but Pensacola has the Tunnel to the Baars. Technically called the Tree Tunnel, the creator of the living archway was Mary Ellison Baars, who crafted the entrance for her family’s estate in Pensacola. The original plan was for it to be an entrance to vacation homes for wealthy northerners, but the economy thwarted those plans in the early 20th century.

Shark Politics

Style: Blood orange shandy
ABV: 4.3 percent
Description: This beer has little to do with politics, and more to do with sharks. The premise of this design is probability. Someone decided to compare the chance of shark attacks versus voter fraud in the state of Florida. From 2008–11 there were 72 shark attacks compared to the 49 voter fraud cases in the Sunshine State. Although in 2011 alone, voter fraud beat out shark attacks by a whopping three cases.

Next week: Wyoming