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Collaboration to the Extreme


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!

Gamification of Urination

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:

Simplicity Stands Out

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.

Tip of the hat to The Fox is Black for sharing this with me.

Source: No-Li Brewhouse | The Dieline

X-Wing Made From Beer Cans

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?

Source: X Wing Beer Can | Neatorama

Creative Use of Leftover Beer (and Wine)

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!

Source: Tavern Vinegar | TheDieLine

Judging a Bottle (or Can) by Its Cover

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.

Source: Hand-Crafted Design: 20 Creative Beer Cans & Label Designs | Web Urbanist

Experimenting With Native Ingredients in Brazil

With breweries like AB InBev controlling nearly 70% of the overall beer market in Brazil, craft brewers have had to get creative with their beer recipes to compete with the same old choices. Experimenting with native ingredients instead of using the more expensive traditional ones has lead to the beginning of a revolution in the Brazilian beer market.

Cervejaria Dado Bier, a brewery from Southern Brazil has begun using erva mate (also known as yerba mate), a traditional tea-like beverage that is consumed primarily in Argentina, Southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, to add bitterness to the final beer. Another creative brewery, Cervejaria Colorado, has been adding manioc, a very popular amazonian root used in culinary creations similar to cassava, to their Cauim lager.

As you can imagine, getting these beers approved for distribution in the US has been a difficult process, especially with the usage of native ingredients. Epic Beer from New Zealand has had the same problem with their collaboration beer, Portamarillo, which is made with tamarillos, a sweet New Zealand tomato. Regulations and testing abound for ingredients not indigenous to the US, but Cervejaria Colorado managed to make it through the process and plans expand to a beer shelf near you.

Source: Artisanal Beer in Brazil | Cool Hunting

OMG Ommegang!

This is a redesign I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now. I’ve had very mixed feelings towards it and I know it’s a bit late, but what the heck.

The logo update overall is a great improvement. Stylistically it feels much more cohesive, unlike the original in which the lion seems like it was an afterthought. The single tone for the text feels more sophisticated and mature. When I look at the old logo, it feels like the house of Gryffindor decided to start a brewery. The new integration of the lion symbol feel much more strategic. The way it divides the name feels odd, but not necessarily in a bad way. One major issue I do have with the new logo is the overuse of plaid in the lion figure itself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a person that has a closet full of plaid shirts. I like plaid. But trying to fill such a detailed symbol doesn’t work. I find myself struggling to make out the detailed shape of the lion.

Making the lion a solid color or subtle gradient makes things more recognizable. I do realize that this takes away some of the fun and personality, but the question is how much personality is too much.

Another area in which this brand improved dramatically is with the bottle art. As you can see, the old labels felt very disjointed and not at all like a uniform brand. The name placement, the colors, and especially the imagery make these almost feels like they come from a variety of different breweries.

The new labels on the other hand are perfectly uniform. With the brand’s name easily recognizable and the cohesiveness of the beer names, you easily see which one you’re picking up. The color usage across the brand is great and creates a smooth palette, while the silhouetted imagery across all the bottles is fun without being over the top. Each image is unique and represents the spirit of the beer. I have to admit that the Three Philosophers label is one of my favorites as I love the use of negative space in the image.

Overall, I’m very pleased with this rebrand. My biggest complaint is the plaid loving lion and even then, that’s fairly minor in the grand scheme of the overall design. The team at Duffy & Partners did an excellent job.

Original Article: Plaid Beer | Brand New