How Sunny the Cat Inspired 2nd Shift Brewing’s Sunny Cat IPA

The Beer: Sunny Cat
The Brewery: 2nd Shift

2nd Shift Brewing’s beloved New England-style IPA, Sunny Cat, owes its inspiration — and name — to the orange tabby immortalized on its label, Sunny. 

According to Libby Crider, co-owner of 2nd Shift Brewing, Sunny lived the first few years of his life as a barn cat before he decided to join the Crider family. The loveable kitty moved with the brewery from its original location in New Haven, Missouri, to Sublette Avenue, where he assumed his role as 2nd Shift’s honorary mascot. 

Customers from across the region flocked to 2nd Shift not only for the brag-worthy beer and incredible space, but also to pamper the four-legged barback. Sunny enjoyed the sunshine in the Hill until 2019, when he sadly left for cat heaven at the grand age of 15. 

Upon hearing the news, 2nd Shift patrons brought in framed pictures of Sunny and even cross-stitched memorabilia. To this day, they continue to swap their favorite memories of the cat.

To officially honor Sunny, the brewery launched the Sunny Cat ale five years ago, in March 2019. On the can’s current label, Sunny sits upright on his favorite green couch, which matches his grassy green eyes. The bright colors contrast a deep, sky blue background. Candyce Fritsch, 2nd Shift’s creative director and the artist behind the label, explains, “A stout label should probably look different than a lager label.” She says Sunny Cat is “a sunny day beer,” so it made sense that the art depicts the happy orange tabby on a cloudless day. 

It’s true — the taste of a Sunny Cat beer almost requires a sunny day, or vice versa. Crider agrees, saying her ideal Sunny Cat day is “sitting on [her] patio on a sunny day knowing if Sunny were with [them] he’d be on the porch weaving in between [their] legs.” 

It’s difficult to find a more refreshing brew. The ale’s notes of tangerine peel create a bright and citrusy flavor, with a perfect amount of subtle haziness that makes the taste softer than a regular IPA. The warm orange color and easygoing flavor notes are both odes to Sunny’s complexion and carefree disposition.Sunny Cat stays on tap (unless it’s sold out) at 2nd Shift and boasts citywide popularity, particularly during the summertime. 

Libby and Steve Crider, who co-own 2nd Shift, are huge animal people. The space is dog friendly, and the current brewery cat, Simon, a well-loved tuxedo cat, greets patrons on the patio looking for a playmate. I can imagine a decadent dessert brew named after him.

“We’re proud to be known as the animal-friendly brewery,” Crider says.

No matter the erratic St. Louis weather, the orange tabby’s likeness will soon again be seen across corner store shelves and stained wooden countertops. Take note! Sunny days lie ahead.

“He was the bestest boy, we miss him, and his legacy lives on.” 

This is the first column in a series about the inspiration for the art gracing the cans or bottles of local brews. Got a suggestion for writer Lauren Harpold to explore next? Email her at [email protected]

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