Behind The Cover: How We Landed On a Beer Label

The cover—Mountain Life’s first gatefold. Artwork by Stu-MacKay Smith.

words:: Feet Banks

Camping and beer go together like bacon and hangovers, and here at Mountain Life, we’re utterly amped on this collaboration with the legends over at Squamish’s Backcountry Brewing. Our first-ever gatefold cover is also the label on a one-off Backcountry Pale Ale that is perfect for sessioning around the campfire after a big day in the woods.

Jon Burak – Publisher, Mountain Life: It all started with Backcountry’s “Suck It Cancer” beer featuring Chili Thom’s art. Chili was a close friend of the mag and his work looked so incredible that it all resonated in the right places. I started thinking about how one of our covers would translate to a label.

“To be one of the only two artists to get on a Backcountry can and a Mountain Life cover with my bro Chili Thom is an honour. Ideally, this art will encourage people to get out into the wild places that inspired it.”

Ben Reeder – Director of Marketing, Backcountry Brewing: Collaborations, in general, are a such a great thing, especially collaborating with people within the community. I’d been talking with Jon about doing a party together and it grew into this. Our companies have a similar vibe and we have so many bikers in our brewery that it made sense to do a beer to commemorate the spirit of biking, camping, and life in the mountains.”

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Jon Burak: We’ve only run one art cover before, and that was Chili’s. But Stu Mackay-Smith is a legend and we knew he’d be the ideal artist to make this cover/can collaboration come to life. He grew up on a ski hill and his art is iconic across the mountain biking, skiing and Sea-to-Sky scenes. Plus he recently really killed it on a photography/art hybrid cover of Brett Tippie for our ‘Time Travel’ Issue.

The final product.

Stu Mackay-Smith – Artist, smackaysmith.com: This was a really fun project with really good people. It was a bit tricky trying to format it for a beer can, a half-page mag cover, and a full-gatefold poster but I loved the idea of a sunset/night scene with a half-page reveal. I also love the idea that folks will be getting a buzz from cans wrapped in my art.

My family spent a lot of our summers camping—my mom took us on ten-hour hikes in the Rockies back when we were like four years old, so this concept was close to my heart. I also inherited Brett Tippie’s old mountain bike (with a headlight), so I’ve fumbled my way through some night rides. And of course, to be one of the only two artists to get on a Backcountry can and a Mountain Life cover with my bro Chili Thom is an honour. Ideally, this art will encourage people to get out into the wild places that inspired it.

John Folinsbee – Head Brewer, Backcountry Brewing:

“Beer and camping go together pretty well so we wanted something easy to drink. This is a Northeast-style pale ale, or a hazy pale. It’s a nice summer beer with some hop character that isn’t too overwhelming, something you can consume after a bike ride or out sitting around a fire. I’m stoked on the artwork. It isn’t often that we get the opportunity to work with an artist to make a custom can for a small-run beer.

Ben Reeder: As this was coming together, we were just starting to work with our new ambassador, Rémy Métailler. So, it was exciting to shoot a promo video with him and sneak in some dialogue about ‘earning your beer’ after a long day of riding and play with that natural marriage of biking, camping and beer. Some of the best times I’ve had have been camping at Alice Lake, rolling through trails all day with a bunch of friends and then ending up at camp to share a beer and celebrate the day.

Enjoy the issue and enjoy the beer, Mountain Lifers! And remember to leave the campsite better than you found it. —ML

 

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