IN CASE YOU DIDN'T KNOW, MAY 1ST MARKS OUR 11TH YEAR AS A BREWERY. It's more than that as a business if you count the three weeks we operated exclusively as a home brew retail store while we waited for our beer manufacturers license to clear in Sac-town at the ABC offices, but that's ancient history, not to mention boring. April also happens to be Idaho Craft Beer Month. With so many things to celebrate, we couldn't be more excited to unveil the latest release in our artist-inspired Project X Series - Rail Jam HIPA. Typically known for more fanciful and even psychedelic vibes, the series has showcased some pretty abstract can art in recent history but is taking a right turn in favor of a more accessible format in the sketchy stylings of Encinitas local and muralist, Matthew Perdoni.
Matthew Perdoni is a visual artist based in North County San Diego. He originally hails from the woods of New England, where his lifelong creative inclinations were founded on an intensive study of comic books and graphic arts. While his friends ventured through the dramas of Batman and Wolverine, Perdoni lost himself in illustrative fascination. He spent formative time examining and copying every line and hatch-mark, entranced by the power of visual storytelling.
Today, Perdoni creates fine art paintings and public artworks in San Diego. His work is heavily illustrative, often exploring stories and themes that resonate from his real experiences. A transcontinental train-hopping trip inspired the recent and ongoing production of scenes and characters gathered while riding the rails. The personality and magic of well-lived experiences unite Perdoni’s works, which capture moments of beauty in an ongoing and unfolding tale. Despite his rambling disposition, Perdoni has made home in North County San Diego, teaching art at a local elementary school, working as an independent illustrator and muralist, and sharing the stories worth seeing.
We spent some time picking Matt's brain about the can art and some general Q&A. Here's what he had to say.
Q: What inspires your work and how did the label for Rail Jam come to be?
A: Hopping freight trains was a big part of my 20s, it opened the door to what was possible and had a lasting impact on me. For years I wondered how to incorporate train hopping into my art and it wasn’t until I created “CiaoCiao”, the bearded banjo playing transient, that I found the vessel needed to share those stories. Between rides, you find yourself in new cities or towns with no option but to walk if you want to get anywhere. We’ve always talked about how much sense it would make having skateboards with us to get around when you’re not on a train. Though we ourselves have yet to explore the skateboard idea, “CiaoCiao” clearly hasn’t wasted any time!
Q: What medium are you typically working with? Can you explain a little bit about the artistic process?
A: My creative process starts by making sense of my ideas. I’ve got loads of ideas, but they’re scribbled in notebooks or cryptically typed into the notes on my phone, so sifting through them is a process on its own. I mostly roll my eyes wondering what the hell I was thinking, but occasionally there are some gems in there worthy of being worked out and explored. Then I sketch, over and over again. I learn something from each sketch, each revision and slowly my idea begins to take shape and come to life. It’s often through the sketching process that I decide what medium is the best fit for the idea. Certain techniques lend themselves to my illustrative style, so I lean heavy on a few standards. Pen and ink, acrylics, watercolor, and I love a good linoleum block print. Recently I’ve dipped a toe in the digital world, working from my iPad. Once that’s all figured out, it’s off to the races and you won’t see or hear from me for a week.
Q: Have you ever worked on other projects similar to this one?
A: I’ve done some labels for smaller breweries in San Diego. But like so much freelance work, it’s my job to bring the clients vision to life. What’s different about Project X is that the work you chose for Rail Jam came entirely from my vision, a piece that I had created independently without any client direction. I really appreciate that aspect of the project, you guys truly celebrating the artists and their independent work.
Q: We are big into music when we brew. What kind of music do you listen to when you are making art?
A: A lot can go wrong hopping trains, so it’s best to travel with folks you know and trust. I’ve traveled exclusively with three friends I grew up with back in New England. A farmer, a writer and a musician. The musician is Chadwick Stokes of Dispatch, State Radio and Chadwick Stokes and the Pintos. Chad occasionally pulls from our trips or his own solo excursions when he’s writing, so listening to his stuff always feels appropriate when I’m working on a “CiaoCiao” or train related project.
Q: What’s your favorite Mother Earth beer and why?
A: I was a big fan of the Timber Giant Pale before I ever tried it. The first time I saw the can, it was love at first sight. The illustration had a calculated looseness that I long for, the color scheme was unique and subtle, you guys nailed it. Not an easy one to get my hands on, I was curious if the beer would live up to the label. But visiting friends in Boise I finally got to try it and was not disappointed!
The beer itself is a slight departure from our hazies of the past as well. Our Director of Brewing Operations, Christopher Baker, and Vista Head Brewer, Bret Stitzman, collaborated on the recipe:
"Having followed the New England format for a few brews, which emphasizes a lactose-driven juiciness, we wanted to dial it back a bit on this one and give it a more subtle unfiltered appearance and focus on balance over excess. Utilizing an all-star lineup of Cashmere, Lemon Drop, Galaxy, and Citra Hops, Rail Jam’s strengths lie in its drinkability and sensory qualities, not necessarily in its appearance. ” – Chris Baker
The net net is that Rail Jam drinks exceptionally smooth, with almost no pronounced bitterness to speak of with bright lemon-lime citrus qualities in addition to melon, peach, and tangerine.
Rail Jam is available in 16oz cans and limited draft where independent craft beers are sold. Customers can search for it near them using our beer finder. Can't get in in store? We are direct shipping to CA, AK, and DC. Outside those states? Shop at Craftshack.com. Follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter for future updates.