Give us a thick stack of comic books and a sixer of good craft beer, and you’ve just created our perfect Friday. Schlafly Beer, the largest locally owned and independent craft brewery in Missouri, has similar tastes in brewing, art and storytelling. The company just announced that its new Walking Tree Wheat, a special release mango Hefeweizen for this year’s Art Outside Festival, will be sold with a comic book via its 750-ml bottle packaging.
Schlafly commissioned St. Louis illustrator Dan Zettwoch to design the packaging and label for the mango Hefeweizen beer and also develop the story of the Walking Tree Wheat, which is showcased in a colorful comic that accompanies the 750-ml bottles.
The packaging and comic art features a mango tree which folklore states has been known to walk back to their roots — a symbiotic tie to the purpose of Art Outside, which is to showcase local art outside. Zettwoch presented several iterations of the storyline to the Schlafly team, and his sketches developed into the final packaging and comic. “I started doing research about mangos and found this story about how mango trees walk. I thought that it was the perfect storyline to showcase an almost Indiana Jones-type graphic novel to accompany the beer.”
What’s the beer like?
As for the beer, the Walking Tree Wheat Ale is a twist on Schlafly’s celebrated Hefeweizen. The smooth, unfiltered wheat features American malts and ale yeast. Real mango purée without any artificial flavor is added to the beer during fermentation. Head of Brewing Emily Parker states that they were careful in the mango fruit selection process. “Since we use real fruit in all of our beers, we knew that we’d have to compare several varieties of mangos to find the flavor profile that we wanted. We tried different mango purées — one was super sweet with lots of coconut notes, another super tart, and the winner, a complex variety from India with flavors of mango, but other tropical fruits as well.”
The Walking Tree Wheat is the third iteration in the brewery’s yearly Artists Series of a special brew tied to Art Outside. Last year’s release was called King Kaya with artist Ryan Frank, which became the brewery’s Double Bean Blonde Ale, a chocolate/coffee golden ale special release this spring. Art Outside is a three-day-long alternative art fair at the Schlafly Bottleworks location (7260 Southwest Avenue) featuring art from over 60 artists based here in the St. Louis area. This year, Art Outside will take place over Memorial Day weekend on Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 29.
Where can I find the beer already?
Walking Tree Wheat will be available on draft at the Schlafly Tap Room and Bottleworks locations for a limited time, the brewery’s Art Outside Festival over Memorial Day weekend, as well as in select St. Louis-area retail stores in specially-designed 750-ml bottle packaging.
Now, enjoy these images of the process and final product.