Life got a whole lot smaller last year. The pandemic took away most opportunities to socialize and made our silly little walks the highlight of each day. Trapped inside, we turned to whatever was comforting (and more importantly, time-consuming): sourdough baking, windowsill gardening, rock tumbling, sewing—any number of new-but-timeless tasks.
Vivi Moss started taking pictures of slugs. Then she tried hosting a metal podcast. And then, she started painting beer can art on her face.
A homebrewer, Moss learned the trade with classes at Modist Brewing Co. and the homebrew supply store Northern Brewer. She started working at Eastlake Craft Brewery, where she worked as a bartender and bottler, then moved to Portland, Oregon, before the pandemic hit.
“It was my favorite work experience—I love everyone there so much,” Moss says of Eastlake. “The brewery landscape [in Portland] is very different here than in Minneapolis. It’s a lot older—craft breweries have been around for so, so long.”
Moss grew up in Texas and her parents didn’t drink at all; she and her sister are “first-generation beer drinkers.” In the Pacific Northwest, it was tougher to break into the beer industry she’d come to love in the Twin Cities. She was fighting for jobs with people who grew up in the industry, whose parents owned breweries and bars. Their first words were practically “hops.”
So she got a job at a bakery-cafe with her partner. Their new, much smaller apartment meant putting homebrewing aside. When COVID hit, things got tougher still.
“The world got really dark,” she remembers. “People were sad, and struggling, and suicides were happening around us … I’m definitely more of an extrovert than an introvert, so I was struggling myself. I knew I had to do something creative.”
Thus, her Instagram account, @viviandthecoldones, was born.
Moss felt silly, at first—a Texas-born tomboy who grew up playing in punk bands and would rather be getting sweaty on her bike. “For the longest time I was like, ‘It’s so not me,'” she says.
But she was good at it, too: “In Texas, it’s part of the culture there.” Your family will teach you to do makeup before you’re in middle school. “You’re 12? You don’t leave the house without it.”
Moss reviews every beer, posting her thoughts along with the complete cosmetic breakdown—from Colourpop palette to Tarte Cosmetics foundation—in every caption.
“It challenges me all the time,” she says. “Beer cans out here are bananas.”
Portland, like Minneapolis, is full of craft breweries, and when you factor in the stuff from out of state, there’s endless inspiration and endless content.
Moss is vegan, so stuff with lactose is out—no dessert beers or “hazy milkshake things” make the grid.
That’s not the stuff she likes anyway. With an “old-school dad palate,” she’s drawn toward traditional styles. The only problem is that those don’t tend to be the hypebeast-y beers with snazzy designs. (“A Czech pilsner with a cool package? Oh my gosh, it’s revolutionary.”) It’s why she’s thankful for breweries like Wayfinder Beer out of Portland, which specializes in lagers but has super-cool can art thanks to Orion Landau.
Even the beers she does drink aren’t always worthy of a post. Some are “massive art fails,” and other times, the look is finished but the beer… isn’t. If she doesn’t like what’s in the can, she doesn’t post negatively about it.
When she started Vivi and the Cold Ones, people told her she should be a makeup artist. Even that was a step up from the guys who approached her when she was behind the bar at Eastlake to ask, tactfully, “Do you even drink beer?”
“Now, people are like, ‘What beer is that? What did you think?’” she says.
It’s an opportunity to be taken seriously in beer without working in beer.
Vivi and her partner just moved into a new, bigger place—and the homebrewing store is right up the road. She’s going to start brewing again, and someday wants to be the beer boss at a brewery of her own.
“I’m doing art, doing beer, and eventually I’ll get to do my own beer labels. And that’ll be really cool, right?” she says. “I know I don’t look like a beer dude, but I kind of am.”