The Story

Hopsylvania is a brewing & art project that I started back in January 2016 when I first sketched out a very rough draft of what would later become my iconic hops bat logo. Throughout the following year I continued to iterate on that design while also testing the waters of a potential home brewing hobby. I began with a couple of extract kits, but somehow managed to get both of those beers wrong. They were sour, off-flavour and barely drinkable. It almost seemed like I shouldn't even be doing this. Fed up with extract kits, I decided to switch to all-grain brewing with the challenge of crafting my own artisanal beer from start to finish. After many, many hours of research and DIY hacks I was finally able to brew my very first decent beer, a pale which I called "Dust N' Bones", inspired by an ink sketch I had made which reminded me of a Guns N' Roses song. That sketch would eventually end up on the label design and from that moment on all my other beers — from IPAs and heavy stouts to saisons and wild herbal ales — all would continue to be named after songs from some of my favorite artists, each with its bespoke label artwork, and meticulously crafted recipe using mindfully sourced ingredients.


The Brewhouse

In terms of brewing equipment, I started off in February 2017 with a DIY mash tun converted from a water cooler, along with an 18l boiling kettle and some plastic buckets for fermenting. These were enough to get me through my first 10 or so batches. As time passed and I became more and more familiar with brewing, I also started noticing the limitations of my setup, which is why after plenty of research I decided to switch to The Grainfather system almost a year later. This then enabled me to not have to worry about temperature control, timing the boil additions or being unable to do step mashing, and instead helped me focus more on improving my recipes by understanding the science behind their ingredients. With another year having passed, I realized how limited I also was by the lack of control over my fermentation temperature, so I got a small dedicated fridge which I hooked up to an STC-1000 controller and a heating belt. Because this project is also about packaging, I've always been bottling my beers so that I can showcase my label designs, but as of spring 2019 I started to also keg some of my batches, especially the ones that are more prone to oxidation. Depending on which style I'm brewing, I will ferment in either my main stainless steel Klarstein or in Speidel and FerMonster vessels, or even PET buckets. Regardless of what I'm brewing though, it always starts with the excitement of a new batch, followed by researching the style, crafting the recipe in Brewfather, and eventually getting everything ready for brew day!


The Artwork

This project is not just about brewing artisanal beer, it’s also an outlet for me to express my creativity as a visual artist. I spend endless hours at the drawing desk illustrating each label to match the chosen song name and beer style, each with its own color scheme but all spawned from that very same bit of darkness. This project has enabled me to grow as an illustrator. It tought me disclipline, patience and grit, as I constantly try to channel more intricate and symbolic artworks.


Behind The Bat

My name is Radu Luchian and I'm originally from Romania but currently based in Munich, Germany. Fueled by an unrelenting curiosity and will to create, Hopsylvania emerged as a convergence of my interests and fascinations: nature, ecology, foraging, design, photography, illustration, music, and of course... brewing. My beers are brewed at home in small batches only to be shared with family and friends, simply out of passion for the craft and as a tribute to that which inspired them.

Photo by Colin Stewart.

Hopsylvania Brewer

To know more about how I created my brand and what challenges I faced, read the case study on my personal website. It covers everything from logo design, lettering, and first labels, right down to packaging, merchandise, coasters and more.

Read case study