My Crafting Involves You to Open a Beer

[box type=”info”]Bowman will be signing her book at the Tattered Cover bookstore this Friday at 6:30.  You want to go to there.  Bring her a beer[/box]

“My crafting involves you to open a beer.”

Book Cover

The Book

And thus begins the beer crafting journey of Colorado native, Portland resident, author and beer lover, Shawn Bowman. It began after receiving that note from her eight-year-old daughter who needed more bottle caps for a craft project.  “Boom, it was like getting struck by lightening; ALL crafting should involve me opening a beer. I started writing and I never looked back.”

The Denver Craft Ninjas wholeheartedly agreed. And so when Bowman was in town for promotion of her newest craft book, “Beer Crafts: Making the Most of Your Cans, Bottle Caps, and Labels”, she and the Ninjas holstered their glue guns and packed a metric shit ton of glitter. They invaded Denver bars and breweries to spread some crafting love while enjoying some amazing Denver beer.

Trve Brewing Owner, Nick Nunns Getting into the Ninja Spirit

Trve Brewing Owner, Nick Nunns Getting into the Ninja Spirit

Their first stop was TRVE Brewing.  Where else would a crafting beer crawl begin but a kick ass Nordic Death Metal brewery? Beers in hand, Bowman taught the Ninjas how to embrace their inner drag queen and craft tiaras out of beer boxes and dollar store head bands.  “I have the most fun making tiaras.  They are hilarious and bring out my inner drag queen.”

As the glitter began to pile up on the bar of TRVE, Bowman shared some of her insight into the craft beer industry, what you would find in her beer fridge, and her dream food and beer pairing.

Denver off the Wagon: What do you think is the most exciting craft beer trend to emerge this year?

Bowman:  Cans. It’s all about the cans.  300 breweries are now doing cans, small companies doing mobile canning giving smaller breweries the ability to can up to 600 beers an hour.  Breweries don’t need a huge production space and they are able to effectively and cheaply get product into the stores.  Breweries are looking at cans as a canvas from a crafting point of view, there are a lot of great designs to choose from.

DOTW:  If you could build a scale model of a landmark out of old beer cans, what landmark would you choose?

Bowman:  Holy Crap! Let’s do it life size!  Probably the Titanic because if you built it from beer cans, it probably wouldn’t sink.  I would also love to tackle something from a different angle, like a historical reenactment.  Not sure how it would work in beer cans, but it would be fun to try!

Bowman’s energy and passion are infectious and one can’t help wonder what a diorama of prehistoric mastodons, rendered completely in beer cans, would look like.  As a matter of fact, I pretty much need this in my life immediately.

DOTW: What’s in your beer fridge?

Bowman:  Picking a favorite beer is like decided who your favorite kid is, every trip to the fridge is like Sophie’s ChoiceNew Belgium’s La Folle is pretty damn stunning and I love the imports too.  Orvall, Theakston’s Old Peculiar and anything coming out of Brew Dog.

A former chef, Bowman enjoys the food aspect of beer and beer pairings as well.

DOTW:  What is your ultimate food and beer pairing?

Bowman:  One of my favorite things about coming to Colorado is a trip to Yak and Yeti.  Craft beers made to match kick ass Indian food, freaking brilliant.  These brewers are palate artists, sweet chai and coconut flavors to match the hot food and hot pepper ales for the curries is so awesome.  I’d love to see more brew houses built to compliment regional cooking.  Maybe Caribbean or Thai… anything to get us past the whole bacon infusion stupidity.

Tiaras firmly placed upon each Ninja like low rent versions of Carmen Miranda, we boarded Banjo Billy’s tour bus for a gorilla craft crawl, first stop Pint’s Pub where pull tabs from the top of beer cans and glow in the dark lanyard were used to create a bracelet.  Enjoying one of the amazing cask conditioned ales that Pint’s has to offer and with enthusiasm that made me alternately want to nap and run a marathon, Bowman tutored the group on crafting with beer cans.

Bowman:  Cut up some cans, it’s freaking easy.  It looks intimidating, but 10 second with a can opener, some sharp scissors and blammo, you’ve got a cheap, flexible metal source material which you can cut into any shape you want.  You can piece them together with brads or a glue gun, so make yourself some admiral pins or earrings.  You are literally 10 minutes away from beverage to a fetching birthday gift.  It’s rock star crafting!

My new bracelet dangling off my wrist and only the smallest of craft related injuries to show for it, the Ninjas headed on over to River North Brewery where Bowman instructed the group on just exactly how to whip out those can earrings.

River North Ninjas

River North Ninjas

DOTW: What do you think are the biggest differences between the craft beer scene in Denver vs. Portland?  Anything one city does exceptionally better or worse than the other?

Bowman:  Again with the Sophie’s’ Choice!  One thing I cannot get in the North West is a green chili beer.  Breweries will do a lot of dark beers like a stout or porter with ancho or habenero peppers and chocolate, but no light ales.  My first stop when I get to Ft. Collins is to Coopersmith’s for a Green Chili Ale.  I crave it when I have been gone too long.  Portland has gone a bit overboard on big beers.  One of my neighborhood bars has ten beers on tap and none of them were under 8%.  The big beer trend is getting a bit played out.  It’s like being on a date; you need to wow me and not go for the clit right away.(Author’s note: this was where I developed a giant lady crush on this broad.)  I’m super stoked to try all the new places in Denver and Boulder too. My favorite brewery in Portland is a tiny place, Upright Brewing which does open tank fermentation farmhouse beers.  They are really lovely and just punches a whole other dimension into the taste.  Round, full and complex yeasty, cannot get enough of it.

(Author’s note: and this was the point in which a tangential 10 minute conversation regarding open tank fermentation took place, mostly around how “panty dropping” it was.  Again, I love this broad.)

The Ninjas and new honorary Ninja Bowman wrapped things up at The Irish Rover by yarn bombing the hell out of chairs, banisters and railings alike.  Using Bowman’s crocheted beer cans, the Ninjas bedazzled the patio, drank, and made plans on what can be glittered at TRVE.  Answer: everything.

Yarn Bomb via Craft Ninja

Yarn Bomb via Craft Ninja

As I watched Bowman, my new beer/craft/foul mouthed soul sister, gather her crafting supplies and walk off into the sunset, I knew that I would be inspired to do more beer crafting (diorama, bitches!) and probably more drinking.  Most likely at the same time.  Definitely at the same time.

Bowman will be signing her book at the Tattered Cover bookstore this Friday at 6:30.  You want to go to there.  Bring her a beer.



About Michelle Simons

Michelle likes beer, booze, bands, beards and boys. And alliteration.


    Love all the community outreach breweries are doing.