What’s in a label, anyway?

Thanks are due to my two week old daughter Aria who provided the 4 am impetus for getting this post out of my head and on “paper.”

Littlest Moody caught her third wind at 4 am, might as well put on the coffee and write.

Littlest Moody caught her third wind at 4 am, might as well put on the coffee and write.

     In keeping with my goal of documenting the ins and outs, triumphs and frustrations of creating a new beer making business, I wanted to include the evolution of the Half Seas Over label. For whatever reason, my aesthetic has always leaned toward minimalism. To me there is beauty in less, boldness in the painfully simple. It’s safe to say most homebrewers have dreams somewhere of making their own label. I, however, never really allowed myself that indulgence. Sure, I perused wine and beer labels and took note of what I liked and didn’t like, but I felt a bit foolish about spending too much time and energy on fanciful artwork…until I was under a deadline for getting the Half Seas Over label done and officially submitted through the GOV’T.

     And so, after my final agreement with the brewery, I found myself well behind on artwork and with a severe paucity in the drawing ability department. The consultation process began (and culminated with) my Grandmother. Ever the artist (painter and potter), she very quickly directed me to an old advertising magazine filled with art deco style artwork. That evening we–no she–sketched out some ideas based on those classic themes.

Drinking for inspiration

Drinking for inspiration


My Gram, artworking

photo 5 (1) photo 4

Theme solidified, I sought out other interpretations from more technologically inclined friends and family. 

Hop_Flower copy top hat monocle copy photo Imperialsmall copy IMG_1065

     Friends and family, from four states in total, came to the rescue with ideas and talent. I am in their debt for their time and unpaid work. Despite their best efforts, each offering was just a hair off from whatever it was I wanted. I knew more of what I didn’t want than what I wanted, and in retrospect, the above artwork was made with too little direction from me. I should have said more than “minimalist, art deco, go.” Some of these above were close but just not quite IT, not quite exactly me. After months of skyping, emailing, and phone calling my artist friends, I was without a clear vision for the label. It was time for another visit with Gram, and within the hour she had it. Behold–the Monacle Man!

photo 1

It’s one thing to draw a thing (which I can’t), and it’s another to digitize and vectorize it. I can use a computer. I can whip out spreadsheets, run statistics programs, format any paper (thanks to two theses under my belt), but Illustrator/Photoshop is another animal all together. It’s like drawing but harder. Overwhelmed, it was time to call in the big guns: my little sister.

Where I floundered, 

MoodyBrews monacle (1) 

Rebecca Moody excelled:




From there it was a short step to formatting.



     Wait, what am I going to call this thing?? “Whatever Name Here” just isn’t going to cut it. Going back to my art deco theme, I settled on a 1920s colloquialism, “Half Seas Over,” which is slang for being inebriated. For an Imperial IPA with hops from two hemispheres, “Half Seas Over” just fit.  And so, without further adieu, the final, federally approved label. 


     My thanks to my friends, family and fellow collaborateurs for all their contributions. I can only repay you all with product, which I promise to do. To my Gram and Becky: you both have helped push this thing through every impasse, even when I did not know what I really wanted. I am grateful and proud to say this is truly a family affair.

–Josiah Moody.

Crafter of Beer, Worker in Progress.