With the recent explosion of international craft breweries and home brewing has come a flood of highly creative beer brands. Today, the branding and packaging of beer takes many forms.
Some tell wonderfully illustrated and fascinating stories, others take inspiration from the wonders of nature, and then there are those that focus purely on using minimalism at its finest.Here, I have chosen those that stand out amongst an ever-growing sea of craft beer brands and packaging.
Design by Moruba
If there is anything I am a sucker for in design, it is the ability to interact with a product. Dolina is an excellent example of interaction design, using a scratch-off matte gold foil to conceal an old world illustration of a skull by Marta Zafra. On the concept, Moruba studio said “Dolina is a craft beer made in Burgos and inspired by the archeological site Atapuerca. As the field of archeology gave way to this design, it invites drinkers to scratch off the label and make their own discovery.”
2. Austin Beerworks
Design by Helm’s Workshop
Bold branding, block lettering and bright colours is always going to stand out in a crowded craft beer market and no one does it better than Austin Beerworks. Helm Workshop has paired this with a very humorous naming format for each beer, taking inspiration from Norse mythology and military operations, to power tools and ‘80s action blockbusters. All up, this would have to be one of the strongest and most memorable craft beers on the market.
3. O|O Brewing
Design by Lundgren+Lindqvist
This is what happens when the world’s best designers team up with an innovative team of local brewers to create a very limited edition series of craft beer. Gothenburg-based studio Lundgren+Lindqvist have done for craft-beer what the Leeuwin Estate Art Series did for wine. As they state on their website, “we designed the labels leaving a defined space serving as a canvas for artist collaborations. With each beer being produced in limited quantities, the labels will serve as a micro-gallery growing over time.” It is an excellent idea to attract the most discerning wine or spirits advocate to the wonderful world of craft beer.
4. Hilliard’s Brewery
Design by Mint USA
When talking packaging in beer industry, you can never forget the humble can. Beer can design has gone through many phases since its inception, the latest of which being Carlton Draught’s ‘Keg Can’, which, as cool as it is, will never make me want to drink what’s inside. On the other hand, the team at one of Seattle’s latest craft breweries, Hilliard’s, has decided to go with a design testament to classic ‘70s Americana. Earth tone plaid patterns and German inspired calligraphy type have paired perfectly with well-placed white space to make one sexy beer brand, and a can like no other.
5. Ippon Matsu
Designed by Kota Kobayashi“Ippon Matsu” Japanese for “One Pine Tree” was created to commemorate the tsunami that nearly swept the entire city of Rikuzentakata off the map. The name was inspired by a single pine tree that remained standing out of an entire great forest. For the survivors of the disaster, that one tree became a beacon of hope.This beer’s design represents charity and hope. A scroll-like, handwritten label seals the top with the story of Ippon Matsu written on the inside. The front label is a solitary pine made of three triangles that are facing up, symbolising the wish for progress towards Japan’s brighter future.
“The purpose of Ippon Matsu Beer is to spread the message of charity, raise awareness and help those living in the aftermath of the tsunami. All profits are donated to the reconstruction efforts in Rikuzentakata, Japan.” -Kota Kobayashi
A stunning combination of brilliant storytelling, a noble cause and minimal design at it absolute finest, the packaging for this beer has dominated the awards scene and rightfully so. It’s not often that a craft beer can create an entire movement. Anyone can become part of the movement here: http://www.ippon-matsu.com/.
6. Brassneck Brewery
Design by Post
I remember the first time I saw this big, bold, gold and very minimal packaging – it was right up my alley. The identity was designed to make the most of the breweries specialty, growlers, and to do this they have used condensed typography juxtaposed against the whimsical ink drawings of artist Maggie Boyd.
7. St. Stefanus
Design by Brandhouse
When designing the label for St. Stefanus, Brandhouse wanted to highlight almost 700 years of beer brewing tradition, dating back to the Augustijn monks who originated the recipe. A wonderful combination of old world typography is what makes this label work for me, with Brandhouse even going to great lengths to source the black letter font from the Augustijn’s monastery songbooks.
“As authenticity is key in this category, every element in the identity can be found at the abbey or the brewery – the capital S of the logo features in an old manuscript, the bleeding heart icon on the crown cork is from a stained glass window and each bottle is signed by Jef Versele the brewmaster.” -Brandhouse
8. Mateo & Bernabé and Friends
“Mateo & Bernabé and Friends” is a Riojan craft beer inspired by patron saint of celebrations, the design of this beautiful label features an iconic illustration to represent each holiday. This is then embossed onto a cream stock over bold red type to create a wonderfully simplistic and beautiful label. The neck tag is also a great feature, with my favourite being the ‘Bernabé’.
Designed by Manifiesto Futura
Manifesto Futura designed this beer as a tribute to all working people. It is an outstanding exercise in minimal design. I especially love the custom condensed typeface monotone colour palate. Illustration by Golpeavisa (golpeavisa.com.mx) has also helped to build this masculine identity.
Design by Penny Muire
I am going to finish on a label from my most loved Craft Brewery, Rogue, from Portland, Oregon USA. Rogue’s packaging all works around celebration, my favourite of which being ‘The Dead Guy Ale’. Rogue started this label purely as a draught beer to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead for Casa U Betcha in Portland, but the design and great tasting beer proved popular with both the public and zombie loving fans. So much so that it replaced the label for the Rogue Maierbock Ale. Designed by Penny Muire, this is a fantastic dedication to the growing zombie craze.