Q&A with Ashley Nesladek of Gigantic Brewing

By Poppy Milliken
Posted in The Field Guide to Drinking in America, on May 26, 2015

Four different Gigantic Brewing beers waiting for consumptionWe recently had a chance for a brief Q&A with Gigantic Brewing’s tasting room manager and Jill of all trades, Ashley Nesladek. NWIPA is hosting a Gigantic tap takeover and book signing for The Field Guide this Thursday, May 28th. The brewery has been a great supporter of The Field Guide and Overcup Press and we were happy to have the chance to ask a little about the creative process and what we might expect at the event this Thursday. 

FG: The Craft Beer market in Portland is pretty big. How does Gigantic stand out from the crowd? Outside of Oregon, where can travelers find Gigantic Beers?

AN: Our beer is sold in Alaska, Oregon, California, Chicago, New York City, Hawaii, Washington, Colorado, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlandsthe sun never sets on Gigantic.

First, we don't give a shit about standing out in the market. We just try to make the best damn beer we can. Basically, we make beer we want to make and beer we want to drink, and try to kick it in the nuts every day. If people like our beer, and we hope they do, then that's all we ask. Second, we're not very cool [ed. we might argue that point], but we know some people who are a lot cooler than us. A lot of them are artists who in turn know a lot of other artists, and that's how we get to work with some really amazing people for bottle label art.  THAT definitely helps us stand out in a crowded market.

FG: Gigantic is sold commercially only in 22oz bottles, which allows you to show off your wonderful labels. Can you tell us a little bit about how the label art is developed and created? Who is responsible for that process?

AN: Like I said, we know people much cooler than us.  We come up with a beer we want to make and a name for that beer. We then talk to our art director Rob Reger (of Emily the Strange fame), and our strategic partner Matt Wagner (of the Hellion Gallery in Portland and Tokyo). Through them, we have a "waiting list" of artists who have agreed to work with us. We fit the beer and the name to the artist and then Rob gets in touch with them. We simply tell the artist what kind of beer it is, and the proposed name (because sometimes it changes once we see the art), and let them do their thing. We only give them direction if they ask for it. So some artists just send us back a piece in a week or a month saying, "here's your labelI'm done with it."  Others might present a few options, maybe a few color choices, get a lot of feedback along the way. It all depends on the artist, but they basically drive that bus.

FG: Gigantic is scheduled to do a tap takeover at NWIPA on May 28th. Can you let us know what to expect from this evening? What beers will be showcased and would you tell us a little bit about them?

AN: We'll be sending IPA, Ginormous IIPA, Pipewrencha gin barrel-aged IPA, and White Light White Heat, which is a white(ish) IPA. We may be sending Smooth Operator as wellwhich is an oatmeal pale ale dry hopped with simcoe. So there will be a bevy of hop forward beers for people to try.

Beer label for Gigantic Brewing's Ginormous Imperial IPA