2023 Vintage Series Artwork

2023 Vintage Series Artwork

If you came here for high-brow art or poignant artist statements regarding their post-modern commentary on deteriorating human nature, this is not that. Call it an index of artwork on our 2023 Vintage Series labels, with a little about the subject matter and, where applicable, how it relates to the beer. Or not. Mostly, if you're wondering what the hell you're looking at when you pick up one of our stouts, this should help.

With the [ongoing] rollout of the 2023 Hawkers Vintage Series, it might become apparent that there is a common thread in the label artwork that ties them all together. This year’s releases each feature a unique creature, legend, or monster that has been dreamed up in literature, mythology, lore, cultural history, or film—the more classic in nature, the better. As our Vintage Series generally comprises beers that are big, unapologetic, barrel-aged, and not to be trifled with, the theme seemed to fit well.

Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde

If you attended any of the GABS events, or taken a look at the banner image for this blog, you’ve seen the thematic parent for the series. You likely know the rough story, but the (very) short version is this: Dr Jekyll drinks a serum of his own making in order to partake in his vices without shame, thus transforming him into Mr Hyde, able to indulge said vices freely and without regret while disguising his true identity. Eventually, Hyde begins to take over involuntarily. I won’t spoil the rest, but the ending isn’t happy.

The imagery of Jekyll / Hyde seemed appropriate as an overarching theme to this series, representing a transformation in character. Similarly, our Vintage beers go into a barrel and come out changed, developed, refined. The ageing process can sometimes have elements of unpredictability, both good and bad. In general, however, the beer gains complexity and depth in the barrel—arguably a point of difference to the story of Jekyll and Hyde, but the parallel is a fun one, anyway.

As we release new Vintage Series beers, they’ll be added to this blog so as not to spoil upcoming releases. Hint: there are some absolute belters coming up. You can click on the beer below to jump to that section of the page.

Image of Hawkers Imperial Stout 2023 Can with flat label artwork of Grim Reaper Illustration

Imperial Stout (2023)
10.5% ABV
The Grim Reaper

This beer is arguably the ridgy-didge of our Vintage Series, which likely extends as a mostly universal truth to most breweries with a vintage program. Another (mostly) universal truth is a fear that nearly every person on this planet is familiar with—death. It seemed that the best representation for the cornerstone of our Vintage Series was itself a cornerstone of the macabre. The Grim Reaper is a personification of death, which has roots in Black Plague era Europe (no surprises there). The black robe is paralleled to the robes the priests wore while conducting funerals, while the scythe has the obvious (albeit sinister) imagery of ‘reaping souls’. There is also some influence drawn from a combination of the Greek god Chronos and the Titan Cronus, often mashed into one mythological icon representing time and harvest. That being said, nothing lasts forever, which is a hard truth that can found at the bottom of a can of 2023 Imperial Stout.
Shop This Beer buttonBack to top


Barleywine (2023)
11.2% ABV
Frankenstein’s Monster

Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is the classic of all classics, taking a rightful place among the top ranks of the world’s greatest literature. Using the iconography of Frankenstein’s Monster was simply an obvious choice, though the story certainly raises the question of who the real monster is. For the unfamiliar, Dr Frankenstein, young and perilously motivated, sets off to university and begins pouring himself into creating life (short version, at least). Instead of the joy of triumph he expected to find upon his eventual success, he finds immediate and monumental regret, loathing his own creation prompting him to flee his lab. The monster escapes and immediately finds he is not accepted in the world, percolating into an unattainable longing to be loved and an unwavering quest for revenge on the doctor for bringing him into a joyless and painful existence. Both are miserable, and nobody wins. But, if you’re drinking this Barleywine, you win. Maybe if Shelley’s characters all had sat around and cracked one of these together, they could have worked through some stuff.

Shop this beer buttonBack to top


Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (2023)
13.0% ABV
The Kraken

Originating in Norse folklore, the story of the Kraken has certainly evolved over time and become something of a pop culture icon; while most of us presumably haven’t sailed the Scandinavian seas in our lifetime, we’ve still heard of the terrorising octopod that eats ships. It’s not unlikely that the myth would have originated from the sighting of a giant squid, only becoming embellished with every retelling of the tale. In any case, the beast seems to appear in some form or another somewhat frequently throughout history, and if you’d never seen a giant squid or an octopus before, it’d probably scare the scurvy out of you, too. In contemporary terms, the Kraken has become associated with pirates, and by extension, rum. Nevermind a certain spiced-rum that pulls branding from this very myth—these barrels were not those barrels.

Shop This Beer button

Back to top

 Image of White STout can with flat label artwork

Bourbon Barrel-Aged White Stout (2023)
6.0% ABV
The Krampus

As a creature seen as the antithesis of Santa Claus, the Krampus has roots in European folklore as a goat-like beast that would kidnap children and punish (or maybe eat) children who were naughty—markedly more sinister than the lump of coal in the stocking at Christmas that kids these days are promised for misbehaving. Usually depicted with a bag or basket (for carrying children, of course) and a bunch of twigs/sticks for punishing his haul, I think it’s safe to say some of the fairytales back in the day were a little excessive. In any case, the parallel of the Krampus as a representation of Santa’s opposite (the ‘anticlaus’?) is a great allegory for the White Stout as being the opposite side of the same coin to a conventional stout; light vs dark, angel vs demon, etc.

Shop This Beer button

Back to top

Image of Maple Barrel Aged Imperial Stout (2023) can with label design

Maple Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout (2023)
11.8% ABV

Native American folklore about the wendigo originates in the north woods of the USA’s midwest and Canada. As the story goes, the wendigo is largely associated with cannibalism, particularly in periods of extreme cold, famine, and starvation. Short story is once an act of cannibalism is committed, a person becomes or is possessed by the wendigo, from then hungering only for human and never satiated. The name pops up in a number of Native languages, but the general vibe is the same—a beast or spirit that personifies greed and gluttony. Interestingly, when a wendigo consumes a person, it simply increases in size instead of becoming full, thus is forever hungry no matter how much it eats. Originating in the northern forests that contain many of the sugar maple trees used to produce maple syrup, the lore was a great match for the Maple Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.

Shop This Beer buttonBack to top

Image of Bourbon Barrel Aged White Stout - Tiramisu Edition can with label artwork

Bourbon Barrel-Aged White Stout - Tiramisu Edition (2023)
6.0% ABV

The Leviathan appears in a few Biblical passages, and in short it’s a sea serpent that represents a physical form of evil. It has come to also generally refer to a beast in a more generic sense of the term, but every monster has roots. Does it have a specific or even tenuous link to white stout or tiramisu? No. But, you can’t win them all—had there been some sort of mythical chocolate monster, I’d have gone with that.

Shop This Beer buttonBack to top

Image of Bourbon Barrel Aged White stout - strawberries and Cream edition can with label artwork

6.0% ABV
The jury’s out on whether this myth is based a real person or not, but there are a number of historical candidates, some of whom are enshrined in fairly violent stories. Legend goes, that if you chant her name into the mirror three times with the lights out (or other variations), an apparition will appear in the mirror. Versions of the myth range from a benign spirit appearing in the mirror to one that will straight up murder you. Comparatively, the Strawberries and Cream White Stout should be a very enjoyable experience.

Shop This Beer buttonBack to top

Image of Double Bourbon Barrel Aged White Stout Can with flat label

9.7% ABV

The Yeti is another of those beasts that hardly needs an introduction. Regarded by many as something of a Himalayan version of Bigfoot, that pretty much sums up the vibe. The word 'Yeti' is an evolution from Tibetan language, where the folklore originated (though other stories do pop up in other places, such as Siberia). It's commonly described as a massive furry hominid with sharp teeth, though Tibetan lore incudes a version, the "Rang Shim Bombo", that's only 3-5ft tall. How adorable.

Shop This Beer buttonBack to top

Image of BBA White Stout Can featuring the Headless Horseman


9.7% ABV
Popularised by Washington Irving's novel The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the Headless Horseman has apparently been a spooky story around the world since the middle ages. For the sake of pop-culture, let's talk about the Sleepy Hollow variety; based in Sleepy Hollow, NY, the Headless Horseman is thought to be a soldier who lost his head (obviously) by American cannon fire during the Revolutionary War. In [the incredibly short version of] the story, Ichabod Crane finds himself terrorised by an ominous cloaked rider (sans head, of course) in the night and disappears, although the novel leaves the disappearance of Crane open-ended. Was it a malevolent ghost in search of his obliterated noggin, or was it a local prankster just scaring the milk out of his tea? Either way, the legend is classic and charmingly haunty.
Shop This Beer button

Image of BBA Imperial Stout PP&J Edition featuring illustration of King Kong

113.1% ABV
Yet another classic beast who's reputation precedes it, King Kong is featured on this exclusive release packaged just for Carwyn Cellars and their 2023 Black Box. Created for 1933 film bearing its name, King Kong is the sad story of a GIANT gorilla-like beast (aka Kong) captured by a film crew from his home on Skull Island. Taken to NYC to be exhibited as the eighth wonder of the world, he inevitably escapes and climbs the Empire State building, eventually falling to his death when attacked by planes. The story is laden with tragedy, particularly in an innocent party suffering the consequences of human actions, giving the story quite a timeless quality.


 Image of Bourbon BA Double Imperial Stout Can with Label featuring Dracula
14.0% ABV
Arguably one of the most famous spooky stories of all time, Dracula (or Count Dracula, if we're using titles) is a character out of Bram Stoker's Dracula, in which an unwitting Jonathan Harker travels to Dracula's Transylvanian estate on business, eventually discovering the horrifying truth about Dracula's undead-ness. Dracula's character is inspired by Vlad the Impaler (1400s Romania) and an actor, Henry Irving, for whom Stoker once worked. Vlad was known for his brutality, while Irving for his penchant for self-serving manipulation.
The myth of vampires, generally speaking, is wildly widespread, and each version of the legend applies its own seasoning. Based on the supernatural strength, charisma, and otherworldlyness of Dracula, it was a fitting selection to grace the front of the BBA Double Imperial Stout label.

Image of BBA Imperial Smoked Stout 2023 can with label featuring a witch
14.0% ABV
Witches and witchcraft are woven into the history of both America and Europe. While the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 are a notably famous period of witch hysteria, Europe has a dark history when it comes to literal witch hunts. The concept of witchcraft (and by extension, witches themselves) is largely borne of things misunderstood (wouldn't be the first time that's happened, to be certain). The Salem trials, for instance, began with two girls who were having fits and seizures that couldn't be explained at the time. It's now thought that a fungal infection was responsible for the girls' condition, but if there's one thing true of humanity, it's that people are terrified of that which they don't understand. Combine that with a historically terrible gender equality imbalance, and you've got yourself some witch hysteria. All up, 18 executions took place in Salem (6 of whom were men), however in the darkest days of Europe, the number is as high as 80,000 all told over the course of about 160 years. Yikes.
Shop This Beer button

12.9% ABV
Mummies of Ancient Egyptian (not to be confused with the plural colloquial term for 'mothers') are obviously a real thing. The undead variety, however, became a popular supernatural antagonist after Boris Karloff's 1932 film The Mummy. Prior to that, however, there were still long-standing superstitions floating around about disinterring a corpse-king that's been percolating away in its sarcophagus for a few thousand years. When Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamen's tomb, it was coupled with a few inexplicable deaths of people tangential to his expedition. That would likely be enough to deter most from cracking open the ancient coffin of an Egyptian boy king, but apparently old Howard was made of different stuff.
Shop This Beer button

Image of Apple Brandy BA Barleywine featuring illustration of Godzilla

12.9% ABV
The birth of Godzilla (or Gojira as it was originally called in Japan) was in a 1954 film by the same name co-written and directed by Ishirō Honda. While there is some ambiguity about where the actual name comes from, the story of the origins of the beast itself are a little more aligned—nuclear radiation has awakened and given some extra go-juice to an ancient primeval beast that looks a lot like a t-rex but with gym-bro arms, cool plates down its back and better posture. It's up for debate as to what the real metaphor was; some postulate it's a representation of nuclear weapons, others have suggested the United States. In any case, Godzilla has stood the test of time and seems to have cemented its place in pop-culture.
Shop This Beer button

Willett Family Estate Rye Whisky Barrel-Aged Double Imperial Stout - (2023)
14.1% ABV
The tale of Medusa is certainly one that has made its way into pop culture from its origins in Greek Mythology. While the mythology around her exists in a few different forms, she is widely known as a female figure with snakes for hair whose gaze could turn people to stone. She was one of three Gorgon sisters, and unfortunately for her, the only one that was mortal. Mythology says that she was seduced by Poseidon in Athena's temple, who in turn took enough of an offence to it that she cursed Medusa with snakes for hair. Medusa met her end when Perseus decapitated her, continuing to use her severed head for a while to turn a few enemies to stone before turning the head over to Athena. Brutal.

Willett Family Estate Rye Whiskey Barrel-Aged Barleywine - (2023)
12.7% ABV
Greek Mythology can get pretty creative when conjuring up beasties that lurk in the shadows of the world, and some of them are outright bizarre. Cerberus was a monstrously sized three-headed dog was tasked with guarding the underworld, chomping down those who tried to escape and barring living humans from getting in. The Hound of Hades, as it's sometimes referred to, could be lulled by music, which is how Orpheus gained himself access to the underworld (absolute mad lad). It's also quite apparent that it was a very direct inspiration for the large three-headed dog named 'Fluffy' in J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter novel, who was coincidentally put to sleep by a little music.

Willett Family Estate Bourbon Barrel-Aged Rye Wine - (2023)
13.2% ABV
In Homer's The Illiad, the protagonist Odysseus and his crew are famously held captive by the one-eyed creature named Polyphemus, who was defeated when Odysseus poked out the beast's only peeper and escaped. The Cyclops (or Cyclopes, Kyklopes) is a race of one-eyed giants that were generally thought of as savages, albeit savages with skills—they are credited with the production of Zeus's lightning bolts.



Got a favourite label or illustration? Let us know by commenting below! Conversely, tag us in a post on Instagram—we'd love to hear from you.