Bridgeville illustrator's new book breaks down 'Brewology'
Mark Brewer seems to be staying true to his name.
Even though he once thought malts were “something for a chocolate shake,” he now is the author of “Brewology: An Illustrated Dictionary for Beer Lovers” (Skyhorse Publishing, $16.99).
Brewer was inspired to go in this direction when he began experimenting with home-brew.
“I love beer,” says the Bridgeville illustrator. “I love making beer. And this is about as cerebral as I can be.”
The book isn't too cerebral, though. It is a glossary of beer terms with wacky illustrations. For example, “head retention,” which deals with the amount of time a foamy head lasts, is illustrated with a beer drinker wearing a cast that keeps his noggin in place.
Guy Gilchrist, the first illustrator to employ Brewer, says his work comes from a strong sense of “goofiness and silliness.”
The book will be released June 23, which will begin a signing tour at 50 breweries in six states, as well as a June 24 stop at the Barnes & Noble store in the Waterfront, Homestead.
The tour — listed on markbrewer.com/brewology — includes the Roundabout Brewery in Lawrenceville, June 25; Sharp Edge's Great European Beer Festival in Friendship, June 26; Spoonwood Brewing Co., Bethel Park, July 2; and the Hop Farm in Lawrenceville, July 2.
It all leads to a signing and book launch party July 29 at the North Side's Penn Brewery, for which Brewer designed a logo for the Microbrewer's Fest early in June.
“Mark's work just dovetails nicely with what we do,” says Gene Mangrum, food and beverage director of Penn Brewery. “He rolled in here one day to tell us what he was doing. It made sense. He's writing about beer, and we're the first craft brewery in this area.”
Brewer's art and writing also would appear to dovetail.
The illustrator, 44, has been working in commercial art since he was 16 and has had his own freelance art career going for 20 years.
Growing up in Connecticut, he took his interest and drawing to Gilchrist, who was doing the art for “Nancy,” “Beetle Bailey” and “Muppet Babies” at that time.
“When someone would come in to see me, I would give them about a month's work and see what they could do,” Gilchrist says. “Mark was back in a week and did everything perfectly.”
Gilchrist calls Brewer the “hardest working, most sincere” artist with whom he has worked.
But Brewer was unsure about life in art. He went to Columbia College in Chicago to study writing, finally deciding his talents were drawing him to the other use of the pen.
He moved to Pittsburgh in 2001 and now has 30 clients, including Trib Total Media, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the Washington Post.
But the writing bug never went completely away. It was awakened a little by his dabbling in home-brewing, and he started jotting down ideas.
Brewer approached Skyhorse with thoughts on the book, and the company liked the idea — but wanted 10,000 words of type, 200 terms on beer and 100 illustrations.
“Ten thousand is a lot of zeroes,” he says. “But I got busy. I nearly drove myself crazy cross-checking and fact-checking.”
The book does not have the look of manic research. The terms are presented in large, easy-to-read type. Many of the illustrations are accompanied by a black-and-white sketch that show the basis for the finished product — or sometimes a change of mind.
Although the book job was different from his art career, writing has taken a hold, and there could be other books on the way.
“The next one could be about coffee,” he says. “Or, it could be another round for beer drinkers.”
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.