What began as an experimental side-project, focused on creating accessible takes of new styles unavailable at the time in Wisconsin has evolved into an international endeavor to create new flavors and styles, the likes of which have never been seen before.
Untitled Art was founded by Levi Funk of Madison, Wisconsin’s Funk Factory Geuzeria and Isaac Showaki of Octopi Brewing, just outside of Madison, in 2016. It was Funk’s realization that Wisconsin didn’t have a Hazy IPA being brewed in the state that was the initial inspiration for the brewery coming to life. He reached out to Showaki who was in the process of opening what’s become one of the nation’s largest independent contract breweries in Octopi.
Beyond this desire for a greater variety of cutting edge styles within the state, there was no initial plan for distribution or a brick-and-mortar taproom, nor any anticipation of the success that would come as a result of their deliberately blank canvas approach to marketing. Today, Untitled Art is distributed in roughly 23 states and Europe, their various elixirs are poured and sold at Octopi Brewing’s taproom, and the success of this seemingly hairbrained scheme has exceeded everyone’s expectations.
What truly sets Funk’s concept apart from others isn’t so easily definable. From the start, the brewery was concocting batches on Octopi’s 50 barrel brewhouse – an unheard of volume for a new brewery. Next, there was little intention of making specific flagship styles, but more to focus their energy on newer flavor-forward styles, such as Florida Weisse, Pastry Stout, and the like. This desire to examine all the flavors of the rainbow compelled both Untitled Art, as well as the breweries they work with across the country, to collaborate and showcase these explorations.
What further exemplifies Untitled Art is their minimalist approach to branding these beverages. There aren’t any catchy names, simply the style and/or basic ingredients such as the hops used or if it contains lactose – the original releases didn’t event include the ABV on the label (legal in Wisconsin). As for the can art, the abstract expressionism they feature is generally purveying a visceral feeling of it’s contents, not a literal depiction of the ingredients within – save their Florida Seltzer and CBD Water releases.
The results speak for themselves. Untitled Art has created over 177 different releases in less than 5 years, all with the intent of letting the consumer form their own opinion of what they’re drinking. There’s no intention to win them over with a niche definition of the brewery, a unique back story, or marketing gimmicks. The beer speaks for itself – full stop. With the success they’ve found in pushing the limits of flavor and style, we can expect the same going forward as they look to create styles that we’ve never seen before.
As for us at Day One, it’s been exciting to watch this evolution in real time as we’ve brought more and more of their new releases to Oregon over the past year-and-a-half we’ve worked with them. The 12 different offerings below, available now, are an apt cross section of all that Untitled Art creates – from Hazy IPA, Sherbet Sours, and Pastry Stouts to CBD Water, Fruited Hard Seltzers, and a Wine Spritz:
- Black Forest Cake Stout ~ collaboration with Hubbard’s Cave ~ Smoothie Stout brewed with cacao nibs, vanilla bean, cherry puree and milk sugar – 9.5%.
- CBD Sparkling Water ~ both Blackberry and Lemon Lime ~ sugar-free and 0% abv.
- Chocolate Raspberry Imperial Stout ~ Imperial Stout with just over a metric ton of raspberries added at the last stage to give the beer a rich chocolate covered raspberry flavor – 11%.
- Florida Seltzer, Black Cherry ~ Hard Seltzer made with real fruit – sweet and tart cherry purees. Gluten-Free – 5%.
- Florida Seltzer, Strawberry Kiwi ~ Hard seltzer made with real fruit – strawberry and kiwi purees. Gluten-Free – 5%.
- Hurricane, Hard Seltzer ~ collaboration with Hop Culture ~ We partnered up with Kenny from @hopculturemag to bring you a Hurricane Hard Seltzer cocktail… in a can! No road trip to New Orleans needed. Like the classic curvy cocktail oft seen in the French Quarter, ours is brewed with oranges, key limes, passionfruit, pineapples and finished off with splashes of rum & cherry juice – 9%.
- Mango Coconut Sticky Sour ~ collaboration with Drekker Brewing ~ Berliner style weiss ale brewed with mango, coconut, cinnamon, brown sugar, and milk sugar – 6%.
- Oat Cream IPA, V2 ~ collaboration with Finback Brewing ~ In collaboration with Finback Brewery, we created a follow-up Oat Cream IPA! Version 2 still comes in at 7%, but we turned the creaminess up to 11 by having a third of our grain bill made up of oats. To balance the creaminess with some bittering bite, we made a hop combo of citra, mosaic, wai-iti and Galaxy – 7%.
- Sweet & Sour Blood Orange Imperial IPA ~ collaboration with LIC Beer Project ~ We collaborated with @licbeerproject to bring you the next iteration in our increasingly popular Sweet & Sour IPA style. And it’s all that and more, More, MORE! WAY more all across the board. Some could even call it extra but we’re just calling it what it is – a delicious IPA. With this release, we turned up the ABV up to 8.8%, added way more hops, MORE blood orange fruited goodness, MORE sour and more tasty goodness in a glass – 8.8%.
- Wine Spritz Merlot ~ Hard Seltzer/Wine Blend ~ We combined our neutral sugar base with premium wine to create a lightly carbonated seltzer that is slightly sweeter than its wine counterpart. Merlot Wine Spritz is rich and fruit-forward with an uplifting dry finish – 6.9%.
- Yuzu Raspberry Sherbet ~ Sherbet Sour ~ Yes, we brought the sherbet back! But this time, we zuzzed it up with exotic yuzu lime. The yuzu flavor is best complimented by the semi-sweet & tart full-bodied flavor of raspberry puree and brightened up with vanilla beans. To give it an extra creamy mouthfeel, we it topped off with milk sugar – 7%.
Content for this article sourced from Untitled Art, Craft Beer & Brewing Podcast with Levi Funk, Madison Magazine, and Wisconsin State Journal.