There’s no denying my love of vector style artwork. Clean edges and bold strokes really excite me when it comes to label designs. It’s never been a style I’ve excelled at so I’m quite envious of those who do. These labels for Coalition Brewing Company feature large, colorful illustrations that really catch my eye.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Coalition Brewing takes their namesake very seriously, offering a program in which local home brewers can brew at Coalition’s facility. With a strong “keeping it local” mentality, it’s no surprise that the brewery relied on a local Portland based designr – Bethany Ng – to create these stunning labels.
The large, beautiful illustrations provide a great personality to each of the brews. The usage of bold, solid colors gives the imagery a playful feel, allowing the beauty of the vector art to stand out amongst the type. One almost unnoticeable piece that I love is the subtle half tone pattern in the backgrounds of Two Dogs, King Kitty and Rooster’s, as well as the star from the breweries logo used on the collars of the dogs and cat.
Tip of the hat to my friend Hannah for bringing these labels to my attention. Hopefully next time I’m up in Portland I’ll get the chance to see these in person, as well as taste them.
You can ask anyone who knows me; I’ve got a slight obsession with felines. I have a small herd of cats myself and every time I go to the pet store, I have to stop and play with the kittens up for adoption. It’s a little ridiculous, but they’re just so damn cute.
Needless to say when I came across this packaging while perusing my feeds, I was excited. Designed by Isabela Rodrigues of Sweety Branding Studio in Brazil, these bottles feature bright bold patterns as well as one of the most awesome geometric cat illustrations I’ve ever seen. The way the the patterns from the bottles were used to create the cat’s face ties the whole thing together.
Designed for Le Chat, which is supposedly a french brewery (I can’t seem to find any information about them), it has very elegant, large text that really stands out. The usage of a clean serif typeface provides a level of classiness on top of what could be considered a very playful pattern. The simplicity of the 4-pack carrier really helps the beauty of the bottles stand out. The designer could have continued with patterns and bright colors on the carrier, but instead chose to keep it simple using only one color and allowing the natural cardboard color to consume the majority of it. I really love how the cat face easily translate to a one color mark without losing any legibility.
Overall, this is a great example of mixing colors, patterns and a classic seriffed typeface. I really wish there were higher resolution photos of these because I’d love to know what kind of beers these are and what’s written below “Le Chat”, but for now, I’ll just take in the beauty of the bright patterns. Heck, I’d love to know anything about this brewery, so if you happen to have anymore insight, please let me know!
When talking about craft beer and hops, there are a handful of breweries and beers that stand out. One that we in Southern California know quite well is Stone Brewing and their Arrogant Bastard line. Their effort to continually push the boundaries of bitterness and sheer hop overload has become synonymous with the brewery. With an attitude like this, it’s not surprising that their packaging has an almost badass feel to it, featuring a variety of gargoyle illustrations and slogans like “you’re not worthy”.
Their current portfolio of beers have such a disjointed feel that there are only a few elements that remind you who the brewery is. The signature gargoyle illustration would be the first indicator, though even that seems to come in a variety of poses and illustrative styles. The colors across all the different packages are widely varied as well, giving no sense of continuity whatsoever. While I realize much of this packaging has an iconic status amongst consumers, as a whole, the brand is lacking.
This is where designer Thanh Nguyen comes into the picture with his conceptual repackaging of the iconic Arrogant Bastard line.
The first thing you’ll notice is the sweet sweet consistency across all three bottles. There’s no way to mistake that these beers aren’t all related in some way. The iconic gargoyle still exists, but instead of changing poses, it just hangs out in the same place with his pint of what is sure to be the bitterest beer hell has to offer. The color coordination of the beer styles is an interesting concept, allowing you to quickly know which specific beer you’re about to crack open.
Something that seems a bit odd is that the Stone name is down played to an extreme degree across all the bottles and even the variety box. The focus is on the Arrogant Bastard line, which in the end would likely confuse those looking at it into thinking this is the brewery name. The type treatment gives this brand a retro feel and while I like this, knowing the brand personality Stone embodies, this is lacking that badass feel they’re so well known for.
The hanging tags are a nice touch, though seem a bit repetitive being as the beer style and black theme is already in the label just below. A nice sneaky touch here, as pointed out by LA I’m Yours, is that the wire almost resembles barbed wire being wrapped around the neck of the bottle. This could be argued as being the aggressive, badass feel I’ve been wanting, but it’s too little too late.
Overall, the design of these bottles is great and while I love the style, consistency, and subtle touches, it just doesn’t say “Stone Brewing is here to kick you in the face with hops.”
Canning appears to be all the rage right now, with a large number of micro breweries putting in canning lines and even a slew of mobile canning services making their rounds to breweries too small for their own line. I’ve heard mixed opinion on which is better, with both sides citing good reasons their way is better. One thing I know for sure that puts cans above bottles is that the canvas space for labels is larger (based on a normal 12 oz bottle that is). With the ability to print directly on the can, you don’t have the added hassle of label sizes or shapes.
One brewery that hopes to launch it’s beer line in cans in March is Uinta Brewing from Salt Lake City. Having some of my favorite illustrative labels, I’m excited to see how everything translates to cans. The ability to have a full bleed illustration stretch from end to end is very appealing to me as a designer. Their current bottles come in a non standard size, a little closer to Anchor Brewing’s bottles, and they always seem to catch my eye. Using either vibrant colors or extremely contrasting colors in all of their illustrations, Uinta really knows how to stand out on the shelf.
Another part of Uinta’s artwork that I thoroughly enjoy is the differences between their very illustrative standard line and their very subtle, almost icon driven, organic series. While the organic series has much more simplified artwork, the colors are still just as vibrant and will catch your eye as easily as the standard line. The large clear typography on the bottles stands out nicely and, as can be seen above, translates perfectly to the artwork on the canned version. It also doesn’t hurt that Uinta’s beers are all very solid.
I will definitely be looking for these cans in March, what about you?
Collaborative brewing has always been around, but it feels like it’s becoming more and more popular. The concept is great - instead of one brewer trying to come up with an idea for a beer, you combine forces, growing the overall creative power behind what that beer could be. While collaboration between breweries isn’t a new concept, it’s becoming more and more popular for brewery to collaborate with outside entities like record labels, celebrities, and even iconic doughnut shops.
One of the most intriguing collaborations I’ve seen recently was that of Rogue and Voodoo Doughnuts. They came together and creative the iconically bright pink Maple Bacon Porter. While I personally didn’t care for the beer – it smelled distinctly like maple syrup and was extremely sweet – the fact that these two entities were able to combine their creativity and come up with something that hadn’t been seen before should be applauded. Additionally, as mentioned, the iconic pink bottle jumps out at you no matter where it’s sitting on the shelf.
So we’ve established that collaborations are great and creative recipes are great, but at what point does creativity go off the deep end?
In one of it’s latest collaborations, Rogue seems to have pushed the envelope a bit too far. Combining forces with another local Portland icon, Rogue and Powell’s Books are brewing up an anniversary beer in honor of Powell’s 41st. This brew, aptly names White Whale Ale, was inspired by the classic novel Moby Dick. Michael Powell was inspired to become a bookseller when he happened upon a first edition of this Herman Melville classic in a box of books he had purchased. It seemed only fitting that this be the basis for the collaboration.
While this sounds fairly normal, the book being the basis for the beer was taken a bit too literally, with pages from an actually copy of Moby Dick being added to the brew kettle. While this definitely pushes beer where it’s never gone before, one has to take a step back and ask “so, why?”. What good does adding paper and ink to a beer do for the beer itself? As far as I can tell, nothing, but in full disclosure I have not had this beer.
I believe this is an example of trying too hard to be different and innovative. You have to give these two credit for coming up with something that no one has done, but while innovation and creativity are amazing, there’s always a line. This crosses the line from creative to just plain eccentric. How much of this was done for the sake of the beer and how much was done for the sake of getting press? If you think about it, in a collaboration with a book store it kind of, almost, sort of makes sense, but to see it actually happen takes it to that next extreme.
I’d be very curious to know how this beer is as well as any reasoning behind how adding the pages of the book could actually help enhance the beer. Have you had it? Let me know what you thought!
While this isn’t specifically related to beer, it does relate to the after effect of drinking it and is ridiculously creative.
Queen’s Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands during which much celebrating and of course beer drinking takes place. As one could imagine, finding a place to relieve yourself in a crowded city can be quite tricky. Many often took the easy way out, relieving themselves directly into the many canals that run through Amsterdam.
WaterNet, the local water authority decided that they were sick of people ruining all of their hard work to keep the canals clean and came up with a creative way to solve the problem. They turned the act of urinating into an interactive parlor game and challenged everyone to see who had the largest bladder. The person who won would be rewarded with a rebate on their water taxes.
While this would not be widely accepted in the US and considered just plain gross by some, I applaud WaterNet for it’s creative solution to a public health problem.
Check out all the details and action in this video:
I’ve always been a fan of simplistic and clean vector style art, especially in package design. In a world where everything is competing to grab your eye as you walk down the asile, it tends to be the simpler items that stand out amongst the slurry of old fashion banners, large product shots and over illustrated mascots.
The style used for No-Li Brewhouse‘s labels is exactly what I would be looking for while picking up some beers. The clean white labels with reversed illustrations feel very unique while the color coded styles not only pop, but can help to create quick recognition when a consumer comes back for more.
Another piece of the branding puzzle that this brewery got right is with consistency and attention to detail. The branding is carried into the bottle caps, with a slogan hidden on the inside. I’ve seen this done with other breweries and it’s a really nice touch.
Not only is the design of these labels great, but the naming and copy writing brings the brand together as one solid entity. A lot of excellent creative thinking went into this project.
While I can’t speak for how the beer tastes, I must admit that I absolutely love the design as a whole.
While sifting through my new feeds, I came across this beautiful creation. An X-Wing made entirely from Kaiser Bier cans and with stunning detail. The placement of the logo throughout the fighter are perfectly aligned and mirrored on each wing. This definitely takes creative recycling to a whole new level.
I wonder what beers they serve at Mos Eisley Cantina?
Culinary usage of beer has been increasing in popularity in recent years. As beers become more interesting so do the creative uses for them as ingredients. Chef Jonathon Sawyer, from The Greenhouse Tavern has created an interesting line of small batch vinegars using recycled excess beer and wine.
Each label contains a fermentation start date and batch number; giving a peek into the Chef’s passion for crafting vinegar.
I absolutely love the packaging used for these vinegars. The flask style bottles and vintage labels give it such an awesome old time feeling on the outside, with a modern creative twist on the inside.
What are some creative uses for beer that you’ve seen recently? Let me know below!
As consumers, we tend to base the majority of our purchasing decisions on a basic set of rules, one of which is how visually appealing a package is. I know I’m guilty of buying beer solely based on the label artwork. Breweries are investing quite a bit of time and money into making sure their bottles stand out on the shelves, developing a variety of personalities ranging from extremely minimalist to urban grunge. Web Urbanist has a list of 20 extremely creative bottles and cans that you need to check out.