Patrons Projects: Attack on the Bounty (ft. James Butler & Siren)

The Patrons Projects were initiated with Northern Monk’s aspiration to become an ambassador of the creative community, for as creative craftsmen, we have an obligation to align ourselves with like-minded artists and thought-provokers. It is only a fact of nature that beer plays a crucial role in elevating the experience of enjoying any medium of creative work. While you’re listening to music, watching a film or reading a novel – you name it, it’s better with beer. So we thought… why not use craft beer as a medium to showcase local creative talent through one-of-a-kind collaborations with our partner Patrons?

Recently, we kicked off the Patrons Projects with Tom Joy and North Star. And with No. 1.01-1.03 still on shelves, we’re doubling down with two more this autumn (including one with Nomad Clan and Against the Grain). Introducing Patrons Project 3.01 in collaboration with tattoo artist and illustrator James Butler and Siren Craft Brew.


The Patron:

Meet James Butler. Originally from Bradford, James decided to discontinue his university degree in Fine Arts in order to pursue his dream of a full-fledged career path in the arts of tattoos. Honing his craft in Leeds since 2013, he eventually found a distinctive visual style with all-black ink, emphasising contrasts between solid black, delicate lines, dot etchings and negative space.

Although James strives to illustrate pieces with originality, he is fundamentally enamoured with traditional Western colour tattoo styles as well as abstract cubism. But never one to look backwards, he constantly seeks to absorb the virtues of any and all tattooing disciplines and then translate such time-tested sensibilities into modern contexts with ornamental twists. His philosophy is that every tattoo should be as unique as its exhibitor. No matter the subject, the marque should elicit alluring beauty and intrigue. As such, the atypical eye-catchers are considered desirable in his book.

(photo by Tom Joy)

James has been a long-time friend of Northern Monk. You may be familiar with his work on our merchandise, including t-shirt designs for Patrons and Opeth collaboration. On the brewing department of our Patrons Project, we solicited the talents of no other than the highly coveted Siren Craft Brew from Finchampstead to craft a beer that is as entrancing and everlasting as James’ ink wizardry.

If you’re a craft fanatic based in the UK, you need no introduction to the prowess and imagination of Siren, but we’ll reprise their praises nonetheless. Driven by passion and curiosity, Siren harmonises the best of ingredients to craft beers that are full of character and sing with flavours as euphonious and dangerously seductive as the mythical songs of sirens. And now, you can taste some of this magic in our collaboration.

The Project:

Named Attack on the Bounty, the concept behind this beer is what we like to call a “piña colada black IPA”. The idea behind this brewing collaboration came about when our lead brewer David Kerr caught up with his old pal Sam Lee, a rep of Siren, when he came up for the Leeds International Beer Festival. Naturally, we mused over a collaboration because of course duh.

(photo by Tom Joy)

At first, we toyed around with the notion of a coconut lassi type of IPA, but after many weeks of idea-ping-ponging between us two, we came to the agreement that our beer should be dark and showcase a variety of hops. Somewhere along the way, someone brought up a black IPA in the style of a piña colada and we never looked back since.

When one of Siren’s brewers Dave Bell came into our brew house to co-brew the Bounty, we had a hearty chat exchanging wisdom about our personal approaches to brewing. But the real takeaway was us getting our minds blown by Dave’s tales of brewing adventures back in his native Germany, specifically the yeast cultivation from his own beard for a sour ale. So if you notice our brewers growing gratuitous facial hair any time soon, you know what to expect from our next limited release.

Anyway, back to Attack on the Bounty. The hops profile boasts a bouquet of Mosaic, Citra, Vic Secret and Sorachi Ace, swinging a punch of tropical fruit flavours in your face. Then infuse some freshly toasted coconut and pineapple juice and we have a Caribbean cruise in a can. These fruity garments are worn over a body of roasted malt that lends the beer rich chocolate notes and a hue as black as the ink on the limbs of James Butler’s fleshy canvases.

To transpose this tropical sea beast of a brew into the visual realm, James liaised with our director Russell Bisset to determine the overall direction of the concept and subsequently conjured up the lupulous leviathan that now graces the peel-and-reveal can label artwork. James said that settling on a ‘hop kraken’ was a no-brainer given the brief of the project.

“The overall concept of a giant hop kraken was thrown around between me and Russell in the early stages of our discussion. The idea seems like a solid one straight away to me, given the working title ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ at the time. Plus, my experience as a tattooist means that I’m bound to be pretty well-versed in drawing nautical-themed designs!”

He added that the execution of the piece was fairly intuitive as a result of tailoring the design to his strengths.

“Although there were some ideas that I tried at certain points that didn’t make it into the final design, the process of drawing the design was fairly straightforward once the concept had been established. Keeping everything in a stark black-and-white colour scheme was a conscious decision on my part as it reflects both the fact that this beer is a coconut black IPA as well as my personal style being typically all-black.”