The Art of Science: Drink in the Science

photo (3)The Finch & Pea has, from its inception, been a labor of love by Mike and myself. The labor of that love has been spread to several other individuals over the past few years.

In some ways, Mike & I are very good bosses. We don’t yell. We don’t ask for reports to be filed. We understand that life is more important than deadlines. We are also pretty crappy bosses, in the sense that no one makes any money directly and there are no benefits. We don’t claim to provide “exposure”. We claim to offer fun and creative freedom. We also offer really nice beer glasses*.

Earlier this year, I teamed up with Matthew Cummings, the glass artist behind The Pretentious Beer Glass Company, to create a custom The Finch & Pea beer glass for the staff. Together with his colleague Lisa Wulf they came up with this beautiful (but amateurishly photographed, by me) imperial glass.

Things are just things, but one of the beauties of such artisan craftsmanship is that they can also be symbols, filled with meaning. The connection between a beer glass and a self-styled “online science pub” is pretty obvious. The imperial glass itself is impressive. It can hold two, properly poured bottles of beer – not that you should do such a thing. Rather, you should pour a pint of beer and allow the glass to capture the brew’s aromatics. Rigorous experimentation shows that it is also highly functional for (generous) glasses of whiskeys of all kinds.

Photo Credit: Matthew Cummings (All Rights Reserved; Used with Permission)

Given our devotion to the various disciplines of genetics, one of the most appealing things about these handmade glasses was that each one would have its own slight, neutral variations that would make it unique. These variations would not affect the glass’ beauty or functionality, but would help define it as an individual glass, much like the vast majority of the genetic differences between you and me.

Matthew was instructed to draw inspiration from the style of The Finch & Pea, but under no circumstances to put our lovely logo on the glass. Instead, his colleague, Lisa Wulf discovered an illustration showing different varieties of finch by Charles Darwin, which she hand-etched onto the glasses. The original drawing, reproduced on the prototype, identified the finches alphabetically. Serendipitously, Darwin happened to do the same number of finches as there are letters in The Finch & Pea – that is what some call coincidence and the more poetic call fate.

Either way, Matthew Cummings and Lisa Wulf have achieved the impossible by making beer drinking at my house more fun than ever before.

*For qualifying participants, if you don’t have one yet, they are on their way. It turns out that hand-blown, hand-etched beer glasses take time to make. It also turns out that, for parents of young children, shipping them takes even longer.


Author: Josh Witten

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