The art of brewing

Published 2:57 pm Thursday, December 7, 2023

Student draws label for Wharf Hill flagship beer


Wharf Hill Brewing Co. didn’t have to look far for an artist to design a label for its flagship “Isle of Wheat” beer.

The brewery approached David Elliott, coordinator of educational technologies and communications for Isle of Wight County Schools, this spring about the possibility of a senior art student doing the work.

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Recent Smithfield High School graduate Elizabeth DeFluri, who’d previously interned with Elliott, got the job and spent the next three months creating a colorful logo that features the shoe-shaped outline of Isle of Wight County, the beer’s namesake. For her efforts, DeFluri became the inaugural recipient of the brewery’s $1,000 branding scholarship.

“Elizabeth has put so much time and energy into creating this logo and helping us create a scholarship program, all while still preparing for her high school graduation and for college,” said Dawn Carter, Wharf Hill’s social media marketer.

Carter said Wharf Hill is looking forward to working with students in the future to create artwork for the brewery’s other flagship beers.

By the time DeFluri was offered the job, she’d already completed most of her high school graduation requirements, giving her plenty of time to devote to the project, which itself proved to be a learning experience.

“Discussing the project with Wharf Hill staff gave me valuable insight into the microbrewery industry, especially in regard to connecting with consumers through graphic design,” DeFluri said.

DeFluri, who’s a few years shy of being legally allowed to sample Isle of Wheat herself, also learned standard label dimensions for different-sized beer cans and to leave a certain portion of the label blank for  brewery information and government-required statements such as the surgeon general’s warning against drinking while driving or pregnant.

Wharf Hill’s menu describes Isle of Wheat as a Hefeweizen-style beer using malted, toasted and flaked wheat to give it a cloudy, pale golden color. It was the first beer created when Wharf Hill opened in 2015. The name was chosen as part of a community naming contest when Lee Duncan owned the business. Wharf Hill’s current owners – Pam Brock, Dave Walker and Tom Owen – have continued the tradition of beer names themed around county history.

There’s a red “Old Brick Church” ale named for St. Luke’s Historic Church & Museum and an “Old Courthouse” Porter named for the 1750 courthouse on Main Street.

Wharf Hill’s current owners are also looking to continue Duncan’s tradition of involving the community in its marketing.

“Now that we are canning beer we wanted to get labels designed for our cans and also give back to the county along with helping bring attention to talented high school seniors,” said Pam’s husband, Guy Brock. “We chose the Isle of Wheat as our first beer for a beer can label due to it being our most popular and our first beer developed.  When Isle of Wight County Schools got us in touch with Elizabeth and we talked about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to get with a yearly art competition for a scholarship, her input and feedback was so much more than we could have hoped for.”

The Brocks hope to open the scholarship to public, private and homeschooled high school seniors in Isle of Wight County.

This isn’t the first time DeFluri’s artwork has reached beyond the walls of Smithfield High School. Earlier in her senior year at Smithfield High, her former Spanish teacher, Jill Vargas, connected her with Kris Warshefski, lead developer of the internationally-used foreign language teaching website Voces Digital. Voces ended up commissioning DeFluri to create graphics for Voces’ “Trivia Knight” game.

DeFluri, using the digital illustration program “Procreate,” drew three different-sized piles of treasure, a knight’s helmet and two dragon heads, one breathing fire, for “Trivia Knight,” which Warshefski described as a game where students take on the role of a knight to gather treasure from trivia-obsessed dragons. DeFluri used the same program to draw the final version of the Isle of Wheat logo.

DeFluri, in a prior interview with The Smithfield Times, said she’s always been captivated by art but began to pursue it seriously at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic shuttered Virginia’s schools during the middle of her freshman year, drawing and specifically graphic design became her creative outlet for dealing with the isolation.

“The pandemic really opens my eyes to the significance art has in the world and I developed a reverence for the designs and concepts people take for granted daily,” DeFluri said.

DeFluri produced videos, graphics and press releases for Isle of Wight County Schools during her internship with Elliott, and has also produced documentary-style videos for the Smithfield Lion’s Club.

She plans to attend Virginia Commonwealth University this fall, where she will be majoring in communication arts.

She is the daughter of Susan and Paul DeFluri of Smithfield.