If you remember last week, I published an article about a visit to Largo’s Barley Mow Brewing. One of the things I learned is 1) there are a lot of Masons at the brewery, and 2) Masonic imagery abounds in a lot of their can designs.
Apparently there’s an absolutely ton of Masonic imagery in Foolery (Barleywine, 10% ABV), their recent bomber release.
It was interesting to hear about the label from Marketing Manager Tom Barris. According to him, the concept for the label pretty much formed instantly in his mind’s eye while driving. They always try to sneak some imagery into the labels, but Foolery was meant to be stuffed full of it. The half full hourglass, the symbol of infinity, the scythe, the light and dark, heck you could probably find Waldo if you look hard enough.
I tapped a friend of mine, Luke, who also happens to be a Master Mason, tobsee if he could give a little primer on the imagery. Here’s what I got back:
“The overall theme is known as a “Memento Mori” which is a meditation on the finite-ness of life, usually employing a skull and cross bones and/or an hourglass, often employed by some lodges before the 1st Degree of Masonry and the Order of the Temple in the York Rite. It originated from a Roman tradition where a bloody skull or bone was held over the head of an emperor during his triumph parade, while a slave whispered in his ear that all men must die, in order to keep the emperor humble.
“The winged-hour-glass is “Tempus Fugit” which has a similar connotation. The skeleton figure could be seen as Santa Muerte or “Holy Death,” which is a deity in modern Santeria.
“He holds an Indian peace-pipe and arrow that almost look like the shepherd’s crook and flail, symbols alluded to in Scottish Rite Masonry. It was originally the emblems of authority of the Pharaoh in ancient Egypt–the ability to both succor and destroy his people, carrot and stick, if you like. It was transmuted by Catholic symbology into the emblems of faith–the crucified and life-giving power of the Christ. The crossed arms are the burial position of the Pharaohs, also called the “sign of the Good Shepherd,” which is used during Scottish Rite prayer.
“The tree in the circle at the bottom is the World Tree, a mandala found in Norse and Celtic mythology.”
On top of it all, this arcane writing sits on the side of the bottle:
Now reread that while listening to Red Right Hand by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Kind of intense.
So’s the beer. It’s a barleywine, that just comes with the territory. Double digit ABV, a big, chewy, body, and a flavor with deep flavors of black currant, raisin, molasses, and prune are all present, all incredibly well done.
But there’s also a strong hop quality to the beer, which was a little surprising. They’re big and earthy, bringing an odd spice to the beer that I haven’t really seen before. That spice tended to dissipate a bit as the beer warms up (or it might have been me feeling the 10% ABV. No way to tell).
But it’s a good solid beer with an entertaining bottle to examine as you drink. But don’t ask me what it all means.
I’m still working on that writing.
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