The Draftsman

Our Mutual Friend Brewing Company has turned a pint of beer into a work of art

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On Tuesdays, they come for the glasses. Not many bars are busy on Tuesdays, but the crowds are thick enough that food trucks rotate down a list for the chance to park nearby. That’s because one day a week, Our Mutual Friend (OMF) makes available for sale a limited edition glass designed by a local artist at the microbrewery in RiNo. They are available only for that month. And then, they are gone.

In December 2012, Brandon Proff, Andrew Strasburg, and Bryan Leavelle opened OMF, a hip but casual brewery. They wanted a place that was a part of the community, a place that reflected RiNo, Five Points, Denver, and Colorado, with local, home-grown emphasis. “We roast our own grains on site, and we source all of our malt from a family farm in Alamosa,” Proff said. They even provide an exclusive beer for acclaimed local restaurant The Populist.

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But OMF needed a way to get their name out there—something interesting and fun that would set them apart. Co-owner Brandon Proff, who also works as a graphic designer, came up with an illustration to place on glasses in the brewery to celebrate the 2013 Great American Beer Festival. They were sold for $10 each and came with three fills from OMF’s taps of artisanal beers. The popularity of the glasses was startling.

It was clear that this could be the start of something interesting. OMF reached out to various creative people around town to see who would like to contribute. At first, he tapped into friends, but it wasn’t long before creative people began to ask how they can design a glass themselves. There is now a queue of artists waiting to be a part of it. Why? Because it is an interesting challenge. The artist has to work on a design that will suit a three-dimensional object, which wraps completely around the glass. What’s more, OMF uses different shapes of glasses to suit their beers. Designers choose the glass style, and collectors get to keep the wide range of local art—on their shelves and in the form of Belgian stem glasses, German steins, and slim lager glasses. And there are very ardent collectors.

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The limited runs are usually kept at 300 glasses and when they are gone, they’re gone. “People come in asking for previous glasses, but if we don’t have them, that is it. You are just going to have to wait for a new design,” Proff said. “We get a lot of people asking if they can get the current glass on a non-Tuesday day of the week. And they can’t. It keeps it special.” Some customers recently gifted their complete collection to a couple as a wedding gift.

The monthly glasses did what they were meant to do in building notoriety and getting people’s attention. But offering the glasses also contributed to their original mission. “It is great for many reasons, but something we like about it is that with each design, we get to know and be friends with another creative person,” Proff said. With every glass that OMF releases, they both expand their community and bring it closer together.

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