7 min read

Artist Series #1


509 Style & Justin Gibbens

The Artist Series is a small batch beer series that pairs a PNW artist with an Iron Horse Brewery beer to create original, one-of-a-kind limited edition label artwork for 16oz Cans. We lead off with a local favorite, 509 Style and local artist favorite, Justin Gibbens. Here’s his story and how this all came to be. Click here to skip right to the video.

About the Artist

Justin Gibbens (b. 1975)

Justin Gibbens was trained in both scientific illustration and traditional Chinese painting, a skill set he employs in his subversive zoological drawings. His stylized and embellished beasts speak of evolution, mutation and biodiversity, and perhaps serve as cautionary tales and stand-ins for our anthropocentric selves. By lifting the formal conventions of classic natural science illustration, Gibbens imagines strange and provocative depictions of curious creatures and beautiful beasts of a forgotten natural history.

Gibbens received his BA in painting and drawing from Central Washington University in 1998 and a Scientific Illustration Certificate from University of Washington in 2003. He was the recipient of a 2006 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award and a 2008 Artist Trust Fellowship Award. He is a founding member of PUNCH Projects (formerly PUNCH gallery), an artist collective based in central Washington. His work has been exhibited throughout the Pacific Northwest and nationally. He is represented by G. Gibson Gallery in Seattle, Washington and Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon. His work has been collected by the Washington Arts Consortium, Grinnell College, Microsoft, 4Culture/King County Portable Works Collection, the City of Seattle, the City of Kent and the Tacoma Art Museum.

Though a native to the Northwest, Gibbens’ aesthetic and ecological wanderlust has taken him to far away, otherworldly and sometimes inhospitable places of Antarctica, the Indian subcontinent, the Galapagos Islands and Southern Florida. As a counterpoint to his studio practice, Gibbens has been adapting his practice to include larger-scale public mural projects. He lives in rural Thorp, Washington with his dangerously talented wife Renee Adams.

Justin Gibbens Artist from Ellensburg, WA

About the Beer

509 Style a nw mild ale

509 Style is an NW Mild Ale that is one of Iron Horse Brewery’s original beers, originally produced back in the good ol‘ Prospect street days. It was originally known as Rodeo Pale Ale and sometime in 2009, a rebrand of the beer seemed necessary to better align with the direction of Iron Horse Brewery. 509 Style is a staple at the tasting room and is a local favorite around town. We knew this was the perfect beer to kick off the artist series because of its local, pnw roots. Oh, you don’t care about the story and you want to know more about the beer?

ABV: 5.09% IBU: 11 OG: 1054
HOPS: Cascade & MT Hood MALT: 2 ROW & Carapils, and a bit o’ wheat

Appearance: white head with low retention, gold (burnished good), mostly clear (slight haze)
Aroma: low intensity, light bread, slight grain, hint of lemon, very light honey
Palate: light dough, fresh bread, low+ sweetness, low-med bitterness, light orange
Mouthfeel and body: lightly creamy, low astringency, low+ body, medium+ carbonation
Finish: low intensity, medium length, dry, light astringency, lemon, orange peel, bread dough, hint of pear skin

Q&A with the Artist

Describe your process for this piece.
It probably started with Jared pitching some concepts to me in terms of what the recipe was going to be. When I found out it was a reboot of the 509 we started thinking ok how could we make an image that would speak to that – kind of thinking something bucolic, something rural, something rustic, but maybe also something that would bring in my own personal aesthetic and influence which would be a lot of naturalism and wildlife and that kind of thing. It seems like we came up with something we’re both happy with and we went with it.

​What’s it like to pioneer this Artist Series?
It’s super flattering. I’ve known Professor Vallejo for a long time. Way back when in our formative years we were high school buddies, so to reconnect with him in this professional capacity was super awesome. Of course Iron Horse Brewery is a mainstay and a phenomenal brewery, and though it is local it’s more than that. It’s community. To be asked to pioneer this is super thrilling. I’m stoked.

What does 509 mean to you? How did you show that?
509 means to me a certain kind of effortless easygoing approach to life where maybe it’s more important that we think about recreation and playtime. I think the overall charm of it is obviously for anyone who knows their art history, tip of the hat to American regionalism, that’s Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting of course. Those are the classic farmers posed in front of their farmhouse. That obviously has relevance to where we are here in central rural Washington state.

509 Label art by Justin Gibbens

Why do you art?
I art because I have very few other marketable skills so it seems like a necessary thing. If it wasn’t art I guess it would be brewing beer and you don’t want me to do that, so yeah I think I’ll keep up with the art.

What else should we know?
Skulls are cool. Skeletons are pretty cool. I haven’t gotten into any of that imagery since my junior high days when I was coming up with my own skateboard imagery. To be able to bring back some of those images was super fun.


509 Artist Series Label