Surly pranks beer community with unicorn label art for its forthcoming West Coast IPA, "Overrated"

Which looks more plausible?
Which looks more plausible?

Earlier this month, artwork for Surly's forthcoming project, a West Coast IPA called "Overrated," hit the internet.

Surly responded to the leak in its newsletter, and explained that the image going around wasn't the label the brewery had wanted. Their initial vision, Surly said, had been nixed by regulators for being too, uh, radical.

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"The unicorn-themed can art was what we really wanted to for Overrated, but the Feds denied our artistic vision," the newsletter read. "They said it was too appealing to underage drinking, as if adults can't be into unicorns and rainbows?!"

Not just unicorns and rainbows: The image Surly included with the note, below, was done up in shades of pink and periwinkle, and included a fairy floating next to a magenta mock-up of the brewery's logo.

Some beer bloggers bit. Surly was "recently denied permission by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to use the proposed label design," wrote Paste Magazine.

Of course, Surly's unicorn image was just the cherry on top of a prank. "It was tongue-in-cheek, but there's a lot of Beer Advocate people that don't get tongue-in-cheek sarcasm," a worker at Surly, who wasn't authorized to give his name, told the Hot Dish when we called.

What's likely the actual label, though, is even more interesting than if Surly had taken a sharp turn away from Darkness and into rainbow land.

The art depicts an excited, hand-waving crowd cheering underneath stars and fireworks, colored with eye-catching but reasonable blues and deep reds. But then, the label takes a stab at explaining the beer's name:

It's been said, 'It's easier to brew an extremely hoppy beer than an extremely balanced beer.' And you know us, we are always looking for the easy way out, so we jumped on the West Coast IPA Bandwagon and brewed this dry and hoppy ale. 'Surly's a little bit of a one-trick pony, they just brew gimmick beers,' and maybe we are OVERRATED, but at the end of the day, it's just a beer. If you like it, great, so do we. If you only liked us when we were small, then leave this one on the shelf. Let one of the fanboys grab it.

Surly: 1, Hipsters: 0. The "Bandwagon" line references Surly's other West Coast IPA, which is exclusive to Target Field.

Todd Haug, Surly's brewmaster, took to Twitter to explain "people might think" Bandwagon and Overrated are similar, but that he's "stoked" about the "new hop variety."

Surly was tight-lipped when we asked for more details on Overrated. "Right now, Surly is focused on Pentagram," brewery president Omar Ansari says. "Some Overrated can artwork is out there on the interwebs, but we're not prepared to talk about a prospective beer."

Though Surly wouldn't confirm a release, the Hot Dish hears that the brewery is eyeing an early April launch. Stay tuned for an official date and more details about this newest beer in the expanding Surly stable.

Here are full-size versions of the labels:

The label beer fans will likely see on shelves before spring. Click to enlarge.
The label beer fans will likely see on shelves before spring. Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge all the unicorny, pink-filled prankness.
Click to enlarge all the unicorny, pink-filled prankness.
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Surly Brewing Company

520 Malcolm Ave. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414


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