For a new brand to gain traction, establishing a presence and making a connection with consumers are essential. Craft breweries have established a creative link for beer drinkers, giving them inside access to the ingredients and process. Consumers not only respond to labels that pop on shelves, but also crave an opportunity to get to know the personality behind the brewery.
Below is a collection of examples that stood out in the category from both aesthetic and tactical considerations.
1.) Hand-Crafted Details
Hidden in the woods of coastal Maine, Oxbow Brewing (New Castle, ME) is producing some of the country’s best American Farmhouse-style ales. From the cabin-like taproom, glass-blown tap handles, and hand-drawn labels, there is a beautiful intersection of rustic-meets-precision to the brand. Each label has a unique personality expressed through custom typography that is letterpress printed on textured paper labels. The crafted care is apparent in all aspects, from liquid to label.
2.) Unexpected Use of Metallic
The use of metallic ink is nothing new to the world of beer and spirits, however, Off Color Brewing (Chicago, IL) has taken a unique approach that caught our eye. The black and white illustrations are printed directly on metallic labels. The absence of ink reveals areas of silver shimmer, which are used as textural elements. The storybook-inspired illustration style contrasted by the absence of color makes for a standout execution in a sea of saturated labels.
3.) Direct Print with a Twist
Screen printing directly to the bottle is a technique that has become increasingly popular, producing a result that is seamless and resistant, with bolder and more consistent color output. Almanac Beer Co.’s (San Francisco, CA) Farm to Barrel series has elevated this technique with a smart and sophisticated design that reflects its brand story—bringing together Old World traditions with New World inspirations. An intricate woodcut-style illustration is printed in copper and cream ink on each bottle. A unique, brightly colored paper label wrap is applied to the bottom of each differentiated style. A shared bottle design offers both brand consistency and smart cost savings.
4.) Less Is More
Seattle Cider Company’s (Seattle, WA) tasting room “The Woods” may be filled with rustic wood tables and rich, earthy tones, but when it comes to its packaging the brand takes a more simplistic approach. The iconic brandmark and type-driven design allow the natural flavors and locally grown, hand-pressed Washington apples to be the hero. Contemporary and uncomplicated, it sets itself apart in the cider category.
5.) Cans Uncrushed
There are a number of quality factors to support the huge influx of breweries choosing canning over bottling. From a design perspective, the pro: a larger creative landscape for storytelling; the con: the limitations of offset printing on a nonabsorbent surface. 21st Amendment Brewery (San Francisco, CA) has been canning since 2006, producing some of the best looking designs around. Each beer showcases a 360° uniquely illustrated story with heavy line work and simple use of color that lends itself well to the printing technique.
6.) The Flavor Experience
Bar industry folks will be the first to agree that the temperature and serving vessel of a beer can add or detract from the tasting experience. Many breweries have taken the liberty of incorporating helpful “cellaring” and serving information to its labels as an education tool. The Bruery (Orange County, CA) illustrates the appropriate glass, serving temperature, and even the color one should expect to see when pouring each style of beer. 4 Hands Brewing (St. Louis, MO) illustrates suggested food pairings for each of its beers, reinforcing the desire to not just look at it as beer, but as a premium beverage that can pair perfectly with any meal.