Arcade Brewery Creates 6-Pack Comic Book With 'The Walking Dead' Illustrator

By Ben Kramer in Food on Apr 14, 2015 3:00PM

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Illustration by Tony Moore. Photo via arcadebrewery.com

Alcohol and story is as intertwined as the genres of G-Funk and P-Funk. Hemingway, Thompson, Kerouac were all lovers of drinking. So, when Arcade Brewery decided to start their “6-pack Stories” series, the wedding of beer and story made sense. But their inspiration was comics rather than novels.

The right of the series, Festus Rotgut is more than a black wheat ale. It’s a flash comic that spans across six bottles, following Festus Rotgut, Zombie Cowboy. Written by Jason Aaron with illustrations by Tony Moore (The Walking Dead and Thor), the story brings eye-catching art to the packaging. But it's more than just a pretty cool label— it dictated the beer's style.

Arcade sought out the artists before any recipe was in mind. Knowing the illustrator through brewery co-owner Lance Curran's time at Threadless (he met Moore by working on a short documentary about him), Curran explained the series concept to Moore, who liked the idea. He brought in Aaron and together they birthed the story that would become Festus Rotgut.

After being presented with the finished comic, Arcade had the task in deciding what beer would match this character. As Arcade brewer Jay Eychaner recalls, he and Chris Tourre, the second co-owner and brewer, did competing recipes, with Eychaner brewing a strong pale rye. But Tourre’s black wheat ale won out. Both men, as Eychaner remembers, were trying to imagine what, “Festus himself would be drinking,” when crafting their versions of Rotgut.

When asked to describe the flavor profile of this toasty beer, Eychaner said, “I think of it as creamy. I think of it as chocolatey. I think of it as...it’s an 8% beer, but it doesn’t taste like an 8% beer. It can really trick you.” Rotgut is deceptive and much like the un-dead, should be treated with caution. As Eychaner alludes to, the high ABV won’t be felt immediately.

What should be felt immediately is the spicy hop bite. There's a hop presence that brings a spiciness and earthiness that meets the tongue upon first sip. This is mainly brought in by Crystal hops, which were also dry-hopped into Rotgut, furthering those spicy, earthy flavors and aroma.

If zombies, comics or beer are of interest to you then Festus Rotgut is your boy. The dead man can be found at Vas Foremost Liquors (2300 N. Milwaukee Ave), along with several other liquor stores in Chicago. How long it’ll be around for is unknown, but it’s always better to try these things sooner than later.