Label Love: Zeroday Brewing Releases Barrel-Aged Holiday Ale

Zeroday Grievance 2015 Barrel Aged Edition

When beer is treated like a work of art, what better way to present it to the public than to release it in a beautiful 750ml cork and caged bottle adorned by custom artwork from a local artist. Well, that’s exactly what Zeroday Brewing Co. located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is doing this Sunday, Dec 6, at the brewery starting at 1pm when they do their very first bottle release. The label artist, Ryan Spahr will be signing bottles during the event.

Brandalynn Armstrong serving up Grievance Holiday Ale
Brandalynn Armstrong (Co-owner) serving up Grievance Holiday Ale

Bourbon Barrel Aged Grievance 2015 Holiday Ale
Zeroday has taken their Grievance winter warmer and added a twist by aging it in Elijah Craig bourbon barrels. It’s described as having a “warm aroma of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans and cinnamon with a gentle boozy note of bourbon,” says co-owner Brandalynn Armstrong. “The mouthfeel is on the lighter side, and it holds on the tongue like a good spirit. Sweet up front with a nice dry finish, with notes of tart cherry, cinnamon and vanilla. The barrel aging adds subtle oak and coconut undertones.”

Thirsty yet? It’s basically the Holidays in a Bottle. Definitely a sipping beer for the upcoming cold winter nights… and days as it weighs in at 8.5% ABV.

History of Grievance (Holiday Ale)
In 2012 during their homebrewing days, Theo & Brandalynn (Now Co-Owners of Zeroday Brewing Co.) decided to brew a beer for holiday gifts for friends and family. Theo played around with some “holiday ale” recipe ideas while Brandalynn helped with coming up with the overall flavor profile they were aiming for. Both being Seinfeld nerds, they decided to call it “Festivus.”

“We made a fun label including a Festivus pole and wax dipped the bottles. It went over really well,” says Brandalynn. “For the 2013 edition, we tweaked the base Festivus recipe and home brewed it again.” This time they called it “Grievance” which was a subtle nod to Seinfeld and avoided any type of licensing predicament that “Festivus” presented for them. The Armstrongs numbered the bottles and again gave them out as gifts.

In late 2014, Zeroday was in the process of going pro as they worked on their brewery and taproom. It was decided to skip a year of brewing Grievance for gifts. Fast forward to 2015, Grievance (original recipe) was put on tap last week in the taproom and the barrel aged version will be sold in bottles signed by and numbered by Theo (also the brewmaster) as well as the label artist this Sunday for $20. There is a 3 bottle per person limit.

“We are pretty excited for our first release. We still have some bottles of the 2012 and 2013 holiday ale which should be fun to taste at some point with this year’s and future brewings of Grievance,” says Theo and Brandalynn.

Zeroday is very much a brewery dedicated to the local Harrisburg Midtown community in which they are located. With that in mind, they decided each of their barrel aged bottle releases should have art outside the bottle to represent the liquid art inside.

Enter, Ryan Spahr, local artist known for his vibrant marker illustrations. He’s been stopping in Zeroday’s taproom and enjoying their beers since they opened in 2014. “Brandalynn and I set up a gallery show at the brewery for ‘3rd in the Burg’. They really liked my work in the show and then approached me about doing the label art for the Grievance bottle,” says Ryan.

Ryan, Theo and Brandalynn actually had a brainstorming session together to come up with the concept and direction for the commissioned artwork. Collaboration between visual artist and brew artist. I love it!

At first, the trio thought a winter scene might work best. As they were sipping the beer while continuing to discuss the idea, it was obvious that a warm and toasty brew such as this shouldn’t have a cold wintery look and feel – although many breweries do take this approach for their winter holiday ales. But maybe there was something in the name of the beer that could work visually to stand out from what everyone else is doing and also show the warmth of the beer. “Theo had the idea of two people looking at each other,” describes Ryan. “We wanted to give that feeling of family grievance, but not come off as angry.” Playful yet bold.

The result? A stunning, vibrant rendition of that idea inked on paper using large ethanol markers.

Zeroday's Grievance Original

The next step was to provide the artwork to Bart Kaminski of KollisionMedia who created Zeroday’s brand identity and marketing graphics. Bart digitized Ryan’s illustration and layered in the brewery’s logomark, beer name, beer details, etc. using the brand look and feel.

Zeroday Grievance Label Concept with Artwork


Grievance's label art model
Ryan Spahr’s “Coffee Buddy”: Greg

Ryan noted, “once we settled on a visual concept, all I needed was a model. In my head, I saw the two figures being somewhat curmudgeonly old men. I really liked the idea of using someone actually from Harrisburg, PA. My morning coffee buddy, Greg, whom I often now refer to as ‘my Muse’, was perfect for the part.” Now, when you see Greg on the street give him a nod and a smile. He’ll now be immortalized in this beer label masterpiece!


  • The next bottle release is in the works right now. It’s called Lyrical Gangster: Blue Agave Saison which will be conditioned in Mexican Anjeo Tequila Barrels,
  • A yet-to-be-named porter with black truffles is in the planning stages. That will be aged in red wine barrels,
  • and, a Russian Imperial Stout will be going into bourbon barrels.

(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untappd: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)

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