Local beer and local art make a perfect combo for Winnipeg couple

When you think about art, is beer the first thing that comes to mind?

Probably not, but a Winnipeg husband-and-wife team is hoping to change that.

With their Blank Canvas Beer project, Brad Chute and Jenna Khan are combining their two loves and highlighting local artists and local brewers at the same time.

“A big thing we wanted to do was take art off the walls, put it on a beer can and into the hands of beer drinkers,” Khan told 680 CJOB, “and maybe introduce two different communities who maybe know something of each other — and might learn something about each other as well in both directions.”

Their first beer, Arctic Stout, was released Feb. 13 and is a collaboration between visual artist Kal Barteski — known for her Back Alley Arctic project in the Wolseley area — and Torque Brewing’s Perry Joyal.

“We had this idea quite some time ago, and we met Kal socially, just by chance,” said Chute.

“I ran the idea by her, and she was quite excited about the idea of putting some of her art onto beer and getting the chance to show off what she can do.

“We’re calling it an ‘arctic stout’ just to tie in the polar bear imagery. It’s a stout in flavour — it’s a darker beer with lots of flavour, lots of rich, rosy notes — but Perry decided to make it as light as possible … trying to go paler and paler and paler, and I think he succeeded.”

Khan said the beer, which sold almost 1,000 cans at its launch party in Torque’s taproom, was created after a tête-à-tête between artist and brewer.

“We wanted to have a beer that was reflective of the art outside of the can and vice-versa,” she said.

“When Perry and Kal were first talking — we brought them together for a conversation — the word ‘unexpected’ was used a lot … and that’s how Kal felt the first time she ever saw a polar bear out in the wild.

“You picture them as white and fluffy and cuddly, but there are also a lot of colours to them, their skin is black … so she wanted to put something unexpected on the can as Perry wanted to inside the can.”

While this is the first Blank Canvas Beer release, Chute said they’re having preliminary discussions about a follow up, which will be a completely new collaboration.

“We’ve spoken to other breweries and other artists, because the idea is that each release will be a totally different brewery, totally different artist, totally different beer,” he said.

“The idea is we want to do a new release every three or four months, sort of seasonally … we’re in the early days of talking with folks.”

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